Miami is one city that brings the world of glamor to mind, most probably since a lot of movies and other popular shows seen all over the world were filmed right there. This sunny city is an ideal vacationing spot not only because it is quite scenic and enjoys the perfect climate for visiting tourists and locals alike, but also because of its reputation as a cultural and entertainment mecca. This is where one would find the world renowned Art Deco style of architecture, popular nightspots, and high fashion establishments along Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road. These places have been used frequently as backdrops for movies like Miami Vice, or popular shows like MTV’s Spring Break.
There are several factors that make Miami a unique travel destination. For one thing, it does have a tropical climate all year round, which makes it truly more appealing to spend a holiday in. The fantastic beaches of Miami, the lively entertainment, the fun things to do outdoors, and the assortment of traditions and multi-cultural happenings, all contribute to making the City of Miami a favorite among so many. This unique vibrancy of Miami finds its source from its strategic position that has allowed it to serve as accessible entry point to the exquisite Caribbean, Central America, and South America as well. Miami-Dade is in fact noted as a primary international trading center. South Beach is another area that is very popular in Miami, the reason being its diversity of residents. This makes Miami an international city in every sense of the word. Additionally, a huge number of buyers from different parts of the world have started to buy prime properties of the city’s real estate. Capri South Beach is one of the city’s most popular residential developments that offer interested buyers the chance to be able to live in the most exclusive residential developments on a beautiful oasis-like atmosphere. It is just a stone’s throw away from the city’s finest shopping and dining areas, as well as its many entertainment spots. The city is currently among the top performers in real estate in the US.
A lot of Miami’s charm comes from its diverse neighborhoods, ranging from the lofty skyscrapers in its downtown area, to the “Little Havana” that is home to its Cuban community. Miami Beach has also earned its fame all over the world for the city’s “gold coast” hotel district, extravagant properties, and outstanding recreational establishments.
Miami is situated on a wide plain that lies in between the Florida Everglades, to its western side, and Biscayne Bay, east of the area, which extends from Florida Bay in the north up to Lake Obeechobee. The area’s elevation does not rise over 12 meters or 40 feet, averaging just about 1.8 meters or around 6 feet above sea level for most of the city’s neighborhoods, especially those that sit by the coast. The highest waves could be found along Miami Rock Ridge. The major part of Miami lies upon the shoreline of Biscayne Bay that has hundreds of barrier islands, both natural as well as artificially made, the largest one of which holds Miami Beach along with South Beach. The Gulf Stream runs towards the north, 15 miles from the coast, which allows the climate of Miami to remain mild and warm all throughout the year.
The city of Miami has moderately mild weather that is frequently sunny and hot. It sits by the ocean, which during the summer contributes to an increase in its humidity level, though the breeze coming from the ocean could, for the most part be quite refreshing. May up to the early part of June, and the middle of September till October are the most ideal times to come for a visit as these are the times when the weather is at its finest. When winter sets in, the climate in Miami from December till February has average temperatures ranging from 13 °C or 55.4 °F to 15 °C or 59 °F. Apart from winter months, temperatures slightly vary, remaining constantly warm. The average temperatures during the summer months of June to September range from 25 °C or about 77 °F to 30 °C or about 86 °F.
Summer climate in the city is nice and warm. Generally, temperatures in the main city are usually a bit higher than other parts of Miami because the larger buildings and skyscrapers usually absorb much of the heat. However, no matter what the weather is in Miami, there would never be a lack of places to see, or things to do here.
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When it comes to safety in Miami, there have been a number of stories related to various law breakings committed in the city, especially from popular TV shows and movies. While it is a fact that the city has had a history of mob-related unlawful conducts and drug activities, the crime rate has dropped significantly in the past years. The most important thing to remember while in the city is to keep away from neighborhoods that are unsafe, and to have a keen awareness of your particular surroundings. Going to areas that are favorite tourist spots are the safest places to be. When in Miami, it is best to know which of the areas are better left avoided. Some of the safer areas to be while visiting the place are Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and Coral Gables. While downtown is quite safe in the daytime, it is a good idea to be careful in the evenings when visiting any of the popular bars and restaurants in the area.
When billeted in a hotel, you must always lock your hotel door and make sure that valuables are kept safely. Try to avoid opening up a map and showing obvious signs of being a tourist and sending signals to undesirable elements. Try not to get into arguments with Miami drivers as they are reputed to possess the most road rage anywhere in the U.S. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and remember to roll up car windows and keep car doors locked anytime. For signs of trouble, dial 911 for assistance. When traveling at night, having a companion with you would be wise. Although you may be in the wealthier neighborhoods in the city, it is still best to practice safety at all times.
The city of Miami is actually America’s newest major city, with a very unique history. Miami’s very first inhabitants, the Tequestas and the Mayaimis arrived in the area roughly 10,000 years back, establishing their settlements on the region’s Bay and river and around Lake Obeechobee. The Spaniards laid claim on the land from 1566 until 1570. Florida came under British rule and the early settlers were non-Spanish. Spain reclaimed Florida around 1783 although their power had already weakened at that time. A new wave of settlers was able to gain land grants. Around the early 1800s the first white settlers in the area were from Minorca. By 1821, the U.S. was able to acquire the area and annexed it to the Union as the State of Florida. At about that time as well, Bahamian seamen and the tribe of Seminole Indians also made Florida their home, after being sent out of their lands in the other U. S. states. The early settlement then was simply an empty and undeveloped land. Being very remotely situated, it was essential to come up with a way for the place to be more accessible. The early settlement got its name from the Miami River, a name that is somehow connected with the early Native American group, the Mayaimis that made that particular area their home for thousands of years.
In 1891, Julia Tuttle, a citrus grower from Cleveland came to Miami and became the owner of several hundreds of acres of land. Like other visionaries, she too believed that Miami had a great future ahead. Other families soon followed and established ownership of acres of Miami’s lands, which during that time was considered to be extremely inhospitable. Julia Tuttle then made an agreement with Henri Flagler, pledging one half of the land she owned so that he would expand his railway all the way to Miami, as well as begin to build the new city, attracting workers from all over.
In 1896, the very first train arrived in the city around April just before the area was incorporated into a city in July of that year. At the start of the twentieth century, the city of Miami started to attract some of the richest people who wanted to become part of the biggest adventure that was Miami Beach. During the 1920s, the city found itself going through an intense expansion, including its population, which at that time had reached almost 30,000. It was at this time that George Merrick, a celebrated developer, built up the first well-planned community in the city, Coral Gables. Carl Fisher soon began to develop plush hotels and playgrounds that had golf and polo courses for the rich clients in the area.
In September of 1926, Miami Beach was almost totally wiped out by a terrible hurricane. By 1935, the city recovered from the devastation. Brand new hotels and apartments buildings were erected to become what is referred to as the city’s Art Deco district. Soon after, World War II began and the U.S. Army took over Miami for the requirements of war. Following the war, veterans returned and offered their contributions to the city’s new development and Miami was at its best again. New hotels were erected, including luxury hotels like the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc.
During the time that Castro had control in Cuba, with an influx of immigrants reaching the city’s shores, the profile of Miami had again changed. An estimate during the 60s up to the 80s showed that roughly half a million Cubans had moved into the city. This led to Miami being recognized as a genuine international city. All of these people and the events in Miami’s history have played key roles in creating the dynamic city that it is known for.
Today, the multi-cultural city of Miami boasts of a continuously growing economy that is founded mostly in its tourism industry. The city is a tourist paradise of beaches, attractions, exciting nightlife, luxurious hotels, and top-rate vacation apartments that welcome all of its visitors with open arms each day of the year.
At present, the city of Miami is a fairly large community of people, including illegal immigrants, as well as permanent residents that include Americans, Bahamians, Argentines, Brazilians, Bolivians and Canadians. There are also large groups of Chinese Chilean, Cubans, Dominicans, French, Greeks, Germans, Koreans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Indians, and so many more that make Miami their home. This is the reason why it is also referred to as a multi-cultural city. Because of this diversity, ethnic neighborhoods like Little Haiti, Little Brazil, Little Havana, and little San Juan, to name a few, have been created.
The city of Miami, according to the 2010 census has a population of 399,457 whereas the Miami-Dade County has a population count of 2,496,435. With the city land area measuring 92.4 square kilometers or 35.68 square miles, the city in densely populated, coming up to 4,687.1 people living in each square kilometer or 12,139.5 residents for each square mile. The population mix is made up of 72.6% Whites, 19.2% Blacks, 0.3% American Indians, 1.0% Asians, and 2.7% that reported coming from one or two races. The Whites that are non-Hispanic only make up 11.9% of the total number of Whites in Miami while 70% are of Hispanic or Latino ancestry. This is due to the fact that Miami and the rest of Florida are very near the Caribbean islands of Bahamas and Cuba.
Catholicism is still the dominant religion in Miami with about 24.5%, while over 4% are Jewish and 3.0% are Baptists. Other denominations are also present in Miami, including Mormon, Pentecostal, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian and other Christian religions. Followers of Islam and other Eastern religions are also present in Miami.
For the most part of the history of Miami, the economy of the city has been founded on its tourism. As a matter of fact, not too long ago, Miami came alive only during winter, when visitors coming from the cold northern areas flocked towards Miami’s beaches and hotels. This does not happen anymore since Miami has a herd of tourists that travel here just about any time of the year.
Although tourism is still the primary industry of the city of Miami, its economy has branched out a bit more. Trade is becoming progressively more essential to Miami’s economy. Miami’s closeness to the Caribbean and Latin America make the city the heart of worldwide trade within those parts. Miami’s global trade infrastructure has been wide and diverse. The International Airport of Miami is America’s top airport with regards to international freight, while ranking third for passengers coming from all over the globe.
The Port of Miami, contributing billions of dollars to the local economy tops the list of the country’s containerized ports. For over two decades, the Port of Miami, also referred to as “Cruise Capital of the World” maintains its status as the primary cruise passenger seaport worldwide, accommodating a number of the biggest cruise ships in the world, and presently is the busiest when it comes to passenger traffic, as well as cruise lines.
With its proximity to Latin American countries, Miami is the headquarters of the Latin American operations of several multinational companies, such as Exxon, Cisco, AIG, Disney and Kraft Foods. It is also the center for the production of Spanish-language TV programs by Telefutura, Univisión and Telemundo. Universal Music Latin Entertainment and Sony Music Latin also have headquarters in Miami.
The downtown area of Miami has a large number of the country’s international banks. It also houses numerous large national and international companies. The city’s Civic Center is home to hospitals, medical centers, research institutes, and the biotechnology industries as well. Miami also produces goods and items that include apparel, fabrics, books, magazines, medical as well as diagnostic testing apparatus, plastics, aluminum items, furniture, transportation equipment, electronic parts, cement, and agricultural products like citrus fruits, tomatoes, avocadoes and bananas.
In a UBS survey conducted in 2009, Miami placed first as the richest city in the U.S. In terms of purchasing power, the city came out as the fifth-richest city in the world among the 73 world cities included in the survey.
Downtown Miami, the city’s commercial district, is the place to go to see some of the sleekest skyscrapers and impressive buildings together with a number of cultural centers. The Port of Miami, which is the biggest cruise port in the world, forms a border around the downtown district. Enjoy boat excursions around Miami Bay, as well as the private Fisher Island, which is home to several celebrities in the city.
South Beach, or “SoBe,” as it is locally known, is the town’s trendiest area. In South Beach you’re likely to have celebrity sightings and see other celebrity hopefuls, together with people just having great fun amidst a cosmopolitan atmosphere. This is where you would find designer shops, great restaurants, and exciting nightspots. During the day, the younger crowd enjoys cruising through Ocean Drive. At night, you could get to experience the exotic rhythm of the Latino beats as they reverberate onto the streets from numerous popular dance clubs in the area. Aside from these, South Beach boasts of its white sands and magnificent blue sea. On the other hand, nothing can be more striking to the tourist’s eye than the world famous Art Deco district that features more than 800 buildings sharing the same sleek architectural design with the prettiest pastel hues, lit up with bright-colored neon lights. There are tours that are offered each morning for those who wish to go around the district. You might also avail of self-guided maps from the Art Deco Welcome Center located at 1200 Ocean Drive (12th street) in South Beach.
Get to experience a little bit of Cuba in downtown Miami’s Little Havana. This is where Cuban refugees settled back in 1959 when Castro gained power in Cuba. At present, the neighborhood has a sizable Cuban-American community of about 800,000 residents in a colorful district, with a uniquely Latin atmosphere. Check out the Cuban restaurants and coffee bars, and the small food stalls by the street sides selling Cuban delicacies like “baho,” a Cuban stew and refreshing fruit juices. Get to participate in the biggest street party in America, the “Calle Ocho” festival, a very popular yearly spring carnival, at Calle Ocho or Eighth Street in Little Havana.
Key Biscayne is an area that combines both the traditional Florida-type residences and the more flamboyant mansions that belong to a few of the wealthiest residents of Miami, You would find some of the best beaches of Florida here, with the finest sand and fairly calm waters, making them a favorite among families. The other famous attractions worth seeing in the area are Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, which houses the Cape Florida Lighthouse that was constructed in 1825; and the Crandon Park. Both parks feature beautiful beaches and bike trails, along with nature walks for visitors who wish to take in the beautiful scenery at a nice and easy pace.
Adults and children alike will surely have a great time at the Miami Seaquarium on Biscayne Bay. This is where you would find more than 10,000 marine creatures displayed, including alligators, crocodiles, seals, and fish of various shapes, sizes and colors. Catch star acts like Lolita, a killer whale all of 7,000 pounds, and the famous dolphin, Flipper. While you are at it, take the time to see Zoo Miami, which is the city’s high-tech cage-less zoo. There are over 310 species of animals roaming a 116- hectare area, separated from the spectators by moats. The zoo features wildlife shows, tram tours, petting zoo, food courts and gift shops. It also has a playground for the whole family to enjoy. Another place suitable for the whole family is Jungle Island where you could see animal shows and exhibits.
If you have seen the first Tarzan movie with Johnny Weissmuller and Esther Williams, then you would be glad to know that it was shot at Venetian Pool, a former limestone quarry that was turned into a pool fed with fresh spring water daily. If you are interested in large mansions in a public residential area that had been former homes of celebrities, then head off to Star Island. Some of the houses here were former residences for celebrities like Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Will Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.
Miami also has some of the best museums around. The Historical Museum of Southern Florida at the Miami-Dade Cultural Center offers visitors an interesting insight on the region’s history. The museum has an impressive collection of archive material and historical objects, aside from multimedia presentations that covers the history of Florida dating back 10,000 years ago. The Wolfsonian Museum that is affiliated with Florida International University features a collection of an eccentric Miami world-traveler who founded the museum, including propaganda arts. The museum has unique exhibits addressing political themes of the 19th and the 20th century. For science aficionados, the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, offers interactive science exhibits dealing with physics, anatomy, light, electricity and sound. They also have laser and astronomy shows every day in the adjoining planetarium. The museum also boasts of the largest collection of natural history in South Florida, as well as the wildlife center, which aims to rehabilitate birds and reptiles suffering from various injuries. It has a display of over 175 animals.
Lowe Art Museum has a large collection of antique art, sculptures, pottery and ceramics from several time periods, including Renaissance, Baroque and Greco-Roman. There are also art pieces from Latin America and Asia. On the other hand, Frost Art Museum showcases American photography from the 1960s and the 1970s, bronze items from ancient Africa and Asia, Caribbean and Latin American artwork and paintings as well as pre-Columbian artefacts that were created around 200 to 500 AD.
Just south of the downtown area is Coconut Grove, one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. The district is home to a multi-cultural community of New Englanders and Bahamians, intellectuals and artists who built their summer homes in the area. At present, Coconut Grove is a stylish district of Miami, filled with theatres, galleries, nightclubs, fine dining restaurants, and trendy sidewalk cafes.
The culture of Miami is extremely dynamic and is heavily Latin-influenced. There are immigrants coming from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and other Latin Americans who have established permanent residency here. It is very common to stroll along the streets of Miami and not hear anyone speaking in English. This is because of the wide diversity of people with various backgrounds who influence the cultural celebrations throughout the city. Little Havana has various cultural activities, Here, you would see many eating establishments, record stores, and cigar factories, side by side with different shops selling all sorts of wares.
Miami is known as hometown of Italian, French, Russian, German, and French-Canadian civilizations. It is these civilizations that have been greatly influential in many parts of the city. When it comes to dance culture, it is not uncommon to get to see different cultural shows that include the ballet and opera. The “Calumet” dance is among the most famous traditional dances. This dance was originally performed in order to acquire power and strength in preparation for battle. Ballroom dancing and salsa are the other types of dances that are popular in Miami.
Miami is also multi-linguistic. There are so many languages that are spoken in the city. These languages include English, Haitian Creole or French Creole and Spanish. Other languages include Portuguese, Italian, German, Arabic, Greek and Chinese. English is considered the city’s mother tongue, spoken by 25% of the population, while French Creole is spoken by 5 to 6% of the people. Around 75% of the population of the city prefers speaking in the native language before speaking in English.
Education is very well supported in Miami with 392 public schools and training centers for large student population of nearly 400,000. The city has some of the best high schools in the country and number of Catholic and non-denominational high schools. Miami’s colleges and universities have a student population that is more than 200,000.
The city is one of the favorite locations for American movies and TV shows and Spanish telenovelas and films. It has also been a preferred backdrop for several music videos as well as a few popular video games.
Miami, Florida is represented in the four major sports in the United States. The Miami Heat is the city’s NBA team. The Miami Marlins plays for the MLB, the Miami Dolphins for the NFL and the NHL has the Florida Panthers. The city hosts several sporting events including greyhound racing, jai alai, golf tournaments and yacht races. It likewise plays host to Miami Indy Challenge, Grand Prix Americas and NASCAR races. Miami is the home of the Sony Ericsson Open, a professional tennis event and also the home of the city’s soccer team, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (Miami FC) and the Miami Tropics, a Premier Basketball League team.
- The Art Deco District of Miami Beach has the biggest collection of over 800 buildings constructed in the style of Art Deco architecture.
- Jackie Gleason dubbed Miami Beach as Sun and Fun Capital when his show was broadcasted in Miami in the 60s. At present, the city is also called America’s Riviera, as well as Latin Hollywood.
- Over 150 ethnicities with more than 60 languages call Miami home.
- Several of the most unforgettable films that were done in Miami include “Scarface,” Goldfinger,” “True Lies,” “Bad Boys” I and II, “The Birdcage,” and “Out of Sight.”
- The name Miami came from the “Mayaimis,” which was a tribe of Native Americans living in those parts until the 17th century. The tribe got their name “Mayaimis” from “Lake Okeechobee” that was termed “Mayaimis,” meaning “big water.”
- Prior to the development of the city that began in the twenties, Miami was previously a large mangrove swamp.
- A pharmacist from Miami Beach, Benjamin Green, was the inventor of the original suntan lotion in 1944.
- Miami is home to the Everglades eco-system, which is the only one in the world.
- Miami houses over 800 parks. It is also bordered by 2 National Parks, namely the Biscayne National Park, and the Everglades National Park. No other city in the US is like this.
- Teri DeSario and George McCRae, popular musical artists during the disco era of the 1970s are native Miamians. The city is also the birthplace of other famous people like former US Attorney General Janet Reno, MLB’s Hall of Fame member Steve Carlton, gospel singer Marion Williams, David Archuleta of American Idol, Debbie Harry of the group Blondie, singer Stevie B and Tony awardee and actor Ben Vereen. Miami is also listed as the birthplace of Sir Sidney Poitier, who was born at sea while his parents were on their way to Miami.
- Miami is sister city to several world cities, such as Kagoshima in Japan, Qingdao in the People’s Republic of China, Baghdad in Iraq, Ankara in Turkey, Amman in Jordan and Varna in Bulgaria. Likewise it is sister city to several cities in Latin America and Europe, including Asti, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cochabamba, Lima, Managua, Palermo, Murcia, Salvador, Santiago, Port-au-Prince, and Santo Domingo.