“But this is Miami – you can’t come to Miami and not show any skin…” – Lil’ Kim
A crossroads for all of Latin America, Miami, represents one of foremost centers of culture, business and entertainment in the Western Hemisphere. The city’s unique geographic footprint, sandwiched between the Everglades and the Atlantic shoreline, has led to a vastly higher population density when comparing the city to it’s peers across the southern United States.
Compounding the expanding population is the fact that Miami is one of the nation’s largest tourism markets – bringing winter weary Northerners down to South Florida especially throughout the winter and early spring season. Henry Flagler, a 19th century railroad tycoon, was convinced to extend his railroad line to present-day Miami. Over the coming decades, canals were built to drain parts of the Everglades and open up more land for development. Further, the neighboring community of Miami Beach was connected to Miami proper in 1913. The boom – which caused the population to double in the first three years of the 1920s – led to the city’s preeminent nickname – “The Magic City”.
After an era of stunted growth, the city boomed again in the post-war era. Installation of central air conditioning systems allowed for South Floridians to experience a more comfortable life during the immensely hot and humid summer season. In 1959, the communist takeover of nearby Cuba led to a huge influx of immigrants coming to the Miami area. Today, the heart of the Cuban-American community remains Miami – with the Calle Ocho district serving as a main commercial strip.
While the city has been impacted by the severe weather that comes with each Atlantic Hurricane Season, the growth has been unabated. Today, cranes crowd the skyline as new condo towers line the shoreline of the city. As the city has grown more and more expensive and crowded, some have chosen to instead reside in the counties to the north – which has spurred the booms of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. These communities – along with the massive airports at Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International – are now connected by over 70 miles of commuter rail.