Miami, “the magical city” founded by a woman, Spanish-speaking like no other great city in United States and with a growing and diverse population, it turns 125 this Wednesday. And it is preparing to also become an innovative and technological center.
This tropical tourist icon, golden retirement for retirees, world capital of cruises and Cuban exile, once a nest of gangsters and later of the “cocaine cow boys” and a bridge between the United States and Latin America, was founded on July 28. 1896 thanks to Julia DeForest Tuttle (1849-1898).
The hotel entrepreneur and landowner gave the rail magnate Henry M. Flagler part of her land in the area where the Miami River flows into the Bay of Biscay, in exchange for extending the rail line to that then remote and inhospitable place to which the best way to get there was by river.
Founded by a woman
Few major cities in the world have been founded by women. In the US there is no other, but in Latin America Santiago de Chile has among its founders the Spanish Inés Suárez.
The Freedom Tower, the building that is considered the symbol of Cuban exile, in Miami, Florida (USA). Photo: EFE
On the occasion of the 125th anniversary, the mayor of Miami, the Cuban-American Francis Suárez, invited the inhabitants to celebrate the “rich history and cultural diversity” of his city, without forgetting to think about how to adapt it for the future.
The blow that the covid-19 pandemic meant for the tourism sector was strongly felt in Miami (the number of international visitors decreased by 64% in 2020), which highlighted the need to diversify the local economy.
Mayor Suárez leads efforts to project Miami as a technology and innovation center, something that precisely gained more strength with the transfer of companies from other states to southern Florida as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, for fiscal reasons and the rapid reopening of the economy.
Miami, a symbol of Florida tourism. Photo: EFE
According to official data published on the occasion of the Innovation Luncheon, the first act of the program for the 125th anniversary, technology startups in the area received 2 billion dollars in financing from venture capital companies in the last year.
That sum puts Miami at number eight on the list of US cities with the most venture capital activity.
Capital of capital for entrepreneurs is a title that is still great for this city of 142 square kilometers that contributes 500,000 inhabitants to the more than 2.7 million that Miami-Dade County has.
To develop a complete technological ecosystem, Miami needs to develop talent, improve the digital infrastructure and promote the creation of networks of entrepreneurs, according to its authorities.
Stories and secrets
Considering what in just 125 years the mangroves plagued by mosquitoes and periodically punished by storms and hurricanes have become the Tuttle domain, the task does not seem impossible.
The Miami History Museum, which this week opens an exhibition on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, published various articles on its website about how the city was created and developed.
The “Wagner House”, the oldest still standing in Miami. It was built in 1855. Photo: EFE
In one of them it is revealed that the nickname of the “magic city” is as old as Miami and is due to a journalist who was commissioned by Flagler to write an article with positive things about the nascent city with a view to promoting its real estate developments.
In another it is explained that on July 28, 1896, 368 men attended the call to found the city according to the requirements of the time –women did not have the right to vote– who, in addition to selecting the name of Miami, elected the first officials and confirmed the limits of the municipality.
Of those 368 men, 162 were African-American working for a contractor who was tasked with paving the ground and laying out the streets for the Royal Palm Hotel that Tuttle was building.
Party and show in the museum
While the city is still trying to recover from the tragedy of the collapse of the Champlain Tower, which left almost a hundred dead, the mayor’s office prepared a series of acts.
The collapse of the Champlain Tower, on June 24, shocked Miami Beach and the entire state of Florida. Photo: AFP
To commemorate the city’s birthday, the Mayor’s Office organized a party for this Wednesday at the Pérez Art Museum (PAMM) and over the next few days events will be held in its different neighborhoods, some like Little Havana and Little Haiti, linked to communities from other countries.
The U.S. Census Bureau put 2019 at more than 69% the percentage of Miami residents who are Hispanic, with Cubans at the head, and 65.8% of the inhabitants who speak Spanish.
More than 50% of the population is not born and raised in Miami, but in another country.
Hispanic population and cultural diversity
The cultural diversity it is what characterizes and moves our city, says Suárez whenever it comes to the case.
“It’s a Miami Thing”, the exhibition that will open its doors on Thursday at the Museum of History to mark the 125 years of the city, will reflect that characteristic.
Among the hundreds of objects that will be displayed, some never before exhibited, are some centennial artifacts of the Tequesta Indians, others found in the wreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, textiles from the Seminole tribe, drawings by ornithologist John James Audubon and a of the capes of the famous Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado.