Miami is famous as a tropical melting pot of distinct cultures, diverse languages and global cuisine. Small wonder it’s easy to forget about early founders. However, take a second to review what makes Miami the city it is today. Get to know some of the founders at these historic points of interest.
404 NW 3rd St
Miami, FL 33128
Built in 1836 on a plantation owned by Richard Fitzpatrick, Fort Dallas became one of the first military outposts dating back to the Seminole Wars. It was sold to Dr. William English after the Civil War who used it as a home in a new tiny village he named Miami. Julia Tuttle, widely recognized as the matriarch of Miami, brought her family to live in a large home adjacent to the Fort in 1891. Set along the Miami River with a sweeping view of Biscayne Bay, the building was eventually relocated—dismantled stone by stone—and was used as Julia Tuttle’s home afterward. It is open to the public from dawn until dusk.
Henry Flagler is considered to be the Father of Miami. The railroad magnate was lured to Miami by co-founder Julia Tuttle who told him about the tremendous potential that lay in unlimited expanses of tropical land bordered all around by jade green ocean. He subsequently brought railroads south through the state of Florida, eventually completing the line for the Florida East Coast railroad all the way south to Key West. Just off Miami on Biscayne Bay stands a simple, uninhabited island with a 110-foot high obelisk with scriptures at its base. Illuminated at night and visible off the coast, the structure stands as a lasting sentinel to the city he founded. The island is accessible by boat only and local tours are available.
907 Coral Way
Coral Gables, FL 33134
George Merrick was a real estate developer best known for founding the City of Coral Gables in 1922. At the time, it was the first planned community in the nation, built on 3,000 acres of citrus groves and pine trees left to him by his father. Credited with founding the University of Miami, he had a hand in the development of major roads connecting Coral Gables north to the City of Miami and south to Cutler Bay, as well as across the everglades. Tours are available Sundays and Wednesdays and take approximately 45 minutes.
Deering Estate at Cutler
16701 SW 72nd Ave
Miami, FL 33157
Formerly the Charles Deering Estate, this 444-acre preserve features architectural, historical and environmental history from the early days of Miami. Lumped on the same property with Stone House and Richmond Cottage, a visit to this spot would validate a trip to the past. The Estate provides tours that feature areas where fossil bones were found, dating back 50,000 years.
The William Jennings Bryan Residence
3115 Brickell Ave
Miami, FL 33129
Designed by renowned architect August Geiger and built by noted American politician William Jennings Bryan, Villa Serena was used primarily as a winter home. This Mediterranean architectural masterpiece was built using steel and reinforced concrete and includes imported tiles from Cuba. It remains one of the last homes from the famed “Millionaire’s Row” of the city’s early days.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
3251 S Miami Ave
Coconut Grove, FL 33129
Formerly named the James Deering estate after the noted industrialist, this lush compound combined classic interior and exterior elements that include French classicism, European and Asian architecture elements and sculptures, gardens and villas of Greek, Greco-Roman and Italian Renaissance in design to become one of the original city landmarks. Built between 1914-1922, it once employed 10 percent of Miami’s entire population during construction.
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Glenn Osrin is a journalist and seasoned consumer products sales professional living in Miami, Florida. A new vegan, his most recent assignment is writing about the benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle while learning about the Miami vegan community. His work can be found at Examiner.com.