Miami, officially the City of Miami, is the cultural, economic and financial center of South Florida and the seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida. The Miami metropolitan area is home to 6.1 million people, the second-most populous in the southeastern United States and the seventh-largest in the nation. Miami is nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America” and is the largest city with a Cuban-American plurality. Miami is also a major tourism hub for international visitors, ranking second in the country after New York City. Miami is noted as the only major city in the United States founded by a woman. Julia Tuttle, a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native, was the original owner of the land upon which the city was built. In the late 19th century, the area was known as “Biscayne Bay Country”, and reports described it as a promising wilderness and “one of the finest building sites in Florida”. The Great Freeze of 1894–95 hastened Miami’s growth, as the crops there were the only ones in Florida that survived. Julia Tuttle subsequently convinced railroad tycoonHenry Flagler to extend his Florida East Coast Railway to the region, for which she became known as “the mother of Miami”. Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896, with a population of just over 300. It was named for the Miami River, derived from Mayaimi, the historic name of Lake Okeechobee and the Native Americans that lived around it.
Miami has a tropical monsoon climate with a marked drier season in the winter. The wet season begins sometime in June, ending in mid-October. While Miami has never recorded snowfall at any official weather station since records have been kept, snow flurries fell in some parts of the city on January 19, 1977. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, although hurricanes can develop beyond those dates. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is during the peak of the Cape Verde season, which is mid-August through the end of September. Although tornadoes are uncommon in the area, one struck in 1925 and another in 1997. Around 40% of homes in Miami are built upon floodplains and are considered as flood-risk zones.
Tourism and Conventions
Tourism is one of the Miami’s largest private-sector industries, accounting for more than 144,800 jobs in Miami-Dade County. The city’s frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. With a large hotel infrastructure and the newly renovated Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami is a popular destination for annual conventions and conferences. Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Miami include South Beach, Lincoln Road, Bayside Marketplace and Downtown Miami. The Art Deco District in Miami Beach is reputed as one of the most glamorous in the world for its nightclubs, beaches, historical buildings, and shopping. Annual events such as the Miami Open, Art Basel, the Winter Music Conference, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami attract millions to the metropolis every year.
Museums and Visual Arts
Some of the museums in Miami include the Frost Art Museum, Frost Museum of Science, HistoryMiami, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami Children’s Museum, Pérez Art Museum, and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a National Historic Landmark set on a 28 acre early 20th century estate in Coral Gables.
The Miami area has a unique dialect (commonly called the “Miami accent”) that is widely spoken. The dialect developed among second- or third-generation Hispanics, including Cuban-Americans, whose first language was English (though some non-Hispanic white, black, and other races who were born and raised in the Miami area tend to adopt it as well). It is based on a fairly standard American accent but with some changes very similar to dialects in the Mid-Atlantic (especially the New York area dialect, Northern New Jersey English, and New York Latino English).
Beaches and Parks
The city has numerous marinas, rivers, bays, canals, and the Atlantic Ocean, which make boating, sailing, and fishing popular outdoor activities. Biscayne Bay has numerous coral reefs that make snorkeling and scuba diving popular. There are over 80 parks and gardens in the city. The largest and most popular parks are Bayfront Park and Museum Park (located in the heart of Downtown and the location of the American Airlines Arena and Bayside Marketplace), Tropical Park, Peacock Park, Morningside Park, Virginia Key, and Watson Island.
Other popular cultural destinations in or near Miami include Zoo Miami, Jungle Island, Miami Seaquarium, Monkey Jungle, Coral Castle, St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church, Charles Deering Estate, Fairchild Botanical Gardens, and Key Biscayne.