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The Florida East Coast Railway made its way to Miami in 1895. (📸: State Archives of Florida)
REMEMBER WHEN... YOU COULD TAKE A TRAIN TO THE KEYS?
All you hear about nowadays is Brightline, the new-ish private high speed rail service whisking us between Miami and West Palm Beach. But long ago, you used to be able to ride the train all the way down to the Florida Keys. In fact, that train helped turn Miami-Dade into the metropolis it is today.
THE BEGINNING: The Florida East Coast Railway’s first tracks were set in the late 1830s, but the railway didn’t get its name until 1895, after Henry Flagler, a pioneering businessman, purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax River Railways back in 1885.
THE EXPANSION: As more and more hotels and businesses sprung up along the east coast of Florida, the railroad expanded with them, extending down to Ormond Beach, then to Daytona Beach, and a little bit farther down to Palm Beach.
PITCHING MIAMI: It almost stopped there, but some more Miami pioneers, William and Mary Brickell, reached out to Flagler and asked him to extend the railway down to the 305. Julia Tuttle (the founding mother of the city of Miami) sold Flagler and his fellow businessmen on Miami and boasted about how it survived a citrus freeze that impacted crops just north of the city. The pitch worked, and the railway reached Miami in 1895.
A BRIGHT(LINE) FUTURE: The FEC railway also eventually connected to Key West and passenger rides continued until 1968. For decades after that, the railway was mostly used for freight trains, many of them carrying limestone. But that all changed earlier this year, when Brightline service launched between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and then connected down to us in Miami. Now we’re just waiting for the day it reaches Orlando and we can ride the train to Disney. Family vacations will never be the same.
Stay tuned to the newsletter for more semi-regular pieces of Miami history. And check this story for more on the history of the Florida East Coast Railway. Are there other overlooked or lesser-known Miami history tidbits you want us to share? Hit reply and let us know.
WHAT'S NEW IN THE 305
Imma let you finish… but the neighborhood viandero is the greatest grocery delivery service of all time. Sure, InstaCart puts all of Publix at your fingertips, but these grocery/food truck combos, where you can buy anything from a batido to dried beans to produce straight from Homestead, have been roving the streets of Miami and most Latin American cities for decades. They’re a godsend for seniors without cars, but pretty much every resident in Miami served by a viandero can’t imagine life without it. (Miami Herald)
Trailblazer. Since Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement last week, everyone’s been talking about whether Roe v. Wade will be overturned – and if it is, what state will be first to try to an outright ban on abortions. It might be Florida. Rep. Jennifer Mae Sullivan, who last year tried to pass a law that women have to wait 24 hours before having an abortion, says she might push for an outright ban on the procedure in Florida if SCOTUS kills Roe v. Wade. (POLITICO)
Not so fast. Last month the Miami-Dade County Commission gave the OK to American Dream Miami, a $4 billion mega mall on the northwest edge of the county. But first, the developer has to get a whopping 32 permits approved, many of them environmental permits meant to protect the wetlands on the western edge of the county. Building the mall will require paving over 197 acres of them, which are crucial to replenishing our drinking water sources. (WLRN)
Give me shelter. Almost a year ago, Hurricane Irma stripped away the canopies on bus shelters across Miami-Dade County – pretty much the only thing that makes the long wait for buses bearable in the summer. Well, summer is back, but most of the canopies aren’t, which means public transit users are getting poured on and sun-scorched on the regular. They’ve got one question for MDT: how do you expect to get more people using transit if this is their experience? (Miami Herald)
Maps are hard. There’s a pesky little detail that some Florida lawmakers seem to forget: you need to actually live in the district you represent. The latest forgetful lawmaker seems to be Sen. Daphne Campbell. When district lines were redrawn in 2010, Campbell (back then a state representative) got the short end of the stick: the house she owned was outside the new boundaries. She claims that she moved to live within the district, but a former aide says that Campbell spent most of that time still living in the home she owned outside the district. If she’s found to have lied about her residence, she’ll likely be booted out of office, like former Rep. Daisy Baez was last year. (Miami Herald)
Is it too early to drink? There’s a new study out warning us that South Florida’s days above water are numbered. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, flooding will be a “chronic, daily” problem for more than 1 million Florida homes by 2100. In the “greater Miami” area, the homes at risk make up more than 40 percent of the tax base. Ruh-roh. (Miami New Times)
OUR PARTNER EVENTS
💁Tuesday: Talk safer personal care at Jackson Hall with an expert (Allapattah)
🍞 Tuesday: Talk food entrepreneurship at Tostada Tuesdays (North Miami Beach)
🗣Thursday, July 12: Talk diet trends with the experts at Jackson Hall (Allapattah)
🎶Wednesday, July 18: Enjoy some jazz at the Yard (Wynwood)
🎨Check out PAMM’s exhibits on Third Thursday! – free admission (Downtown)
👑Start your weekend with the Drag Kings (Wynwood)
🕵Learn how to “spy” on your competition’s ad strategy (Allapattah)
💃Dance salsa on Española Way (South Beach)
🌱Hang with the SoFlo Vegans Drink meetup group at Jackson Hall (Allapattah)
🏖Join a foodie-friendly beach getty (Surfside)
📽Catch a throwback laser show at Frost (Downtown)
⚡Pay tribute to David Bowie at Churchill’s (Little Haiti)
⚽Watch Uruguay take on France in the World Cup (Various locations)
⚽Catch the World Cup showdown between Brazil and Belgium (Various locations)
🖼Take a tour of the Design District’s public art (Design District)
🎤Catch Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA at Churchill’s (Little Haiti)
🚲Take a historical bike tour of the Grove (Coconut Grove)
⚡Attend a Harry Potter-themed prom (Brickell)
🎦Browse hundreds of film posters at a Poster Drive (Coral Gables)
🚲 Hop on your bike and learn the secrets of the Scottish Rite Temple (Downtown)
🍍 Enjoy live music on Ball & Chain’s Pineapple stage (Little Havana)
👙 Kick it poolside at the Shaker Sunday BBQ (South Beach)
🥁Vibe to some Afrobeats (Downtown)
🌱Learn all about the poisonous plants around us (Downtown)
💃 Dance your heart out at Candela Mondays (Brickell)
🎷 Kick back with a local jazz legend (Coral Gables)
🎥 Catch a special screening of Yellow Submarine (Coral Gables)
Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag @thenewtropic on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with a New Tropic membership.
THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY.
And remember: you’ve only got one more day ‘til the weekend. 🙌
– The New Tropic