Officially the City of Miami, is an American city that is the seat of Miami-Dade County, and is the cultural, economic and financial center of South Florida. The city covers an area of about 56 square miles (150 km2) between the Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay to the east. Miami is the sixth most densely populated major city in the United States with an estimated 2018 population of 470,914. 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. The city has the third tallest skyline in the U.S. with over 300 high-rises, 55 of which exceed 490 ft (149 m).
Miami is a major center and leader in finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment, the arts, and international trade. The metro area is by far the largest urban economy in Florida and the 12th largest in the United States, with a GDP of $344.9 billion as of 2017. In 2018, Miami was classified as an Alpha level global city by the GaWC. In 2019, Miami ranked seventh in the United States and 31st among global cities in terms of business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement. According to a 2018 UBS study of 77 world cities, the city was ranked as the third-richest in the United States and the eighth-richest in the world in terms of purchasing power. Miami is nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America” and is the largest city with a Cuban-American plurality.
Greater Downtown Miami has one of the largest concentrations of international banks in the United States, and is home to many large national and international companies. The Health District is a major center for hospitals, clinics, and the biotechnology and medical research industries. Port Miami is the busiest cruise port in the world in both passenger traffic and cruise lines, and refers to itself as the “Cruise Capital of the World”. Miami is also a major tourism hub for international visitors, ranking second in the country after New York City.
History About Miami
Approximately 400 men voted for Miami’s incorporation in 1896 in the building to the left.
The Tequesta Native American tribe occupied the Miami area for around 2,000 years before contact with Europeans. A village of hundreds of people, dating to 500–600 B.C., was located at the mouth of the Miami River. It is believed that the entire tribe migrated to Cuba by the mid-1700s.
In 1566, admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida’s first governor, claimed the area for Spain. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later. Spain and Britain successively ruled Florida until Spain ceded it to the United States in 1821. In 1836, the U.S. built Fort Dallas on the banks of the Miami River as part of its development of the Florida Territory and its attempt to suppress and remove the Seminoles. As a result, the Miami area became a site of fighting in the Second Seminole War.
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 tycoon Henry 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 and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay to the east, which extends from Lake Okeechobee southward to Florida Bay. The elevation of the area averages at around 6 ft (1.8 m) above sea level in most neighborhoods, especially near the coast. The highest points are found along the Miami Rock Ridge, which lies under most of the eastern Miami metro. The main portion of the city is on the shores of Biscayne Bay, which contains several hundred natural and artificial barrier islands, the largest of which contains Miami Beach and South Beach. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, runs northward just 15 miles (24 km) off the coast, allowing the city’s climate to stay warm and mild all year.
Geology About Miami
View from one of the higher points in Miami, west of downtown. The highest natural point in the city of Miami is in Coconut Grove, near the bay, along the Miami Rock Ridge at 24 feet (7.3 m) above sea level.
The surface bedrock under the Miami area is called Miami oolite or Miami limestone. This bedrock is covered by a thin layer of soil, and is no more than 50 feet (15 m) thick. Miami limestone formed as the result of the drastic changes in sea level associated with recent glacial periods, or ice ages. Beginning some 130,000 years ago, the Sangamonian Stage raised sea levels to approximately 25 feet (8 m) above the current level. All of southern Florida was covered by a shallow sea. Several parallel lines of reef formed along the edge of the submerged Florida plateau, stretching from the present Miami area to what is now the Dry Tortugas. The area behind this reef line was in effect a large lagoon, and the Miami limestone formed throughout the area from the deposition of oolites and the shells of bryozoans. Starting about 100,000 years ago, the Wisconsin glaciation began lowering sea levels, exposing the floor of the lagoon. By 15,000 years ago, the sea level had dropped 300 to 350 feet (90 to 110 m) below the current level. The sea level rose quickly after that, stabilizing at the current level about 4,000 years ago, leaving the mainland of South Florida just above sea level.
Beneath the plain lies the Biscayne Aquifer, a natural underground source of fresh water that extends from southern Palm Beach County to Florida Bay. It comes closest to the surface around the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah. Most of the Miami metropolitan area obtains its drinking water from the Biscayne Aquifer. As a result of the aquifer, it is not possible to dig more than 15 to 20 ft (5 to 6 m) beneath the city without hitting water, which impedes underground construction, though some underground parking garages exist. For this reason, the mass transit systems in and around Miami are elevated or at-grade.
Most of the western fringes of the city border the Everglades, a tropical marshland covering most of the southern portion of Florida. Alligators that live in the marshes have ventured into Miami communities and onto major highways.
In terms of land area, Miami is one of the smallest major cities in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city encompasses a total area of 56.06 sq mi (145.2 km2), of which 35.99 sq mi (93.2 km2) is land and 20.08 sq mi (52.0 km2) is water. That means Miami comprises over 470,000 people in about 36 square miles (93 km2), making it one of the most densely populated cities in the United States, along with New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Climate of Miami
Typical summer afternoon thunderstorm are found rolling in from the Everglades
Miami has a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am) with a marked drier season in the winter. Its sea-level elevation, coastal location, position just above the Tropic of Cancer, and proximity to the Gulf Stream shape its climate. With January averaging 68.2 °F (20.1 °C), winter features highs generally ranging between 75–84 °F (24–29 °C). Lows fall below 50 °F (10 °C) an average of 10–15 nights during the winter season following the passage of cold fronts, which produce much of the little amount of rain that falls during winter.
The wet season begins sometime in June, ending in mid-October. During this period, temperatures range from the mid 80s to low 90s (29–35 °C) and are accompanied by high humidity, though the heat is often relieved in the afternoon by thunderstorms or a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the year’s 61.9 inches (1,572 mm) of rainfall occurs during this period. Dew points in the warm months range from 71.9 °F (22.2 °C) in June to 73.7 °F (23.2 °C) in August.
Extremes range from 27 °F (−2.8 °C) on February 3, 1917 to 100 °F (38 °C) on July 21, 1940. 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 flood-plains and are considered as flood-risk zones.