On July 28, 1896, this great city of Miami was born. And thanks to the enterprising Julia Tuttle — it’s the only major American city founded by a woman. Today, on our Magic City’s birthday, with help from this history written by the one and only Dr. Paul George with HistoryMiami we looked back at the movers and shakers that made this the great city we know today. P.S. In honor of Miami’s birthday and Julia Tuttle’s achievements, HistoryMiami is offering free admission to women on Thursday. Go check it out!
Miami’s first inhabitants were Paleo-Indians.
They gathered more than 10,000 years ago along Biscayne Bay near the modern-day Vizcaya. Many years later the Tequesta Indians settled along the Miami River and on Key Biscayne.
The name Miami came from the Calusa word Mayami, which means “big water.”
The Miami River was the lifeblood of the area — it allowed easy transportation and its bank offered fertile farming land. When Henry Flagler brought his railroad to the area, the city was almost named after him. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s Miamians called their city “Miamah,” the result of a serious southern drawl.
In 1565, Spain colonized Florida, which lasted for 250 years.
In the 1800s, the country offered a few Bahamian families land grants to farm and colonize the area. Many of them settled near modern-day Coconut Grove and along the Miami River.
William and Mary Brickell moved to Miami in 1871.
They settled at what is today known as Brickell Point. Twenty years later, in 1891, Julia Tuttle moved to Miami and settled across the river from William and Mary.
In 1895 Julia Tuttle convinced railroad mogul Henry Flagler to extend his railroad to Miami.
It wasn’t a hard sell — harsh freezes in the rest of the country meant Miami was one of the only places in the US you could farm year-round. Plus Julia and the Brickells gave him hundreds of acres of prime real estate. (So why then is Tuttle credited with being the mother of Miami you might ask? Welp, lots of historians actually fight about this. They haven’t found a compromise yet.)
On April 13, 1896, the first train entered Miami.
Three months later, on July 28, 1896, 344 registered voters raised their hands and voted to incorporate the City of Miami.