Port of Miami
Review and History

The Port of Miami lies in Biscayne Bay at the mouth of the Miami River in far southeast Florida just east of the famous Everglades and about 110 kilometers south-southwest of the Port of Palm Beach. The Port of Miami is one of the United States' leading resort and tourism destinations. Greater Miami is the state's biggest urban area, covering all of Dade County and containing many smaller communities that include Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and Hialeah. These communities make up what is popularly known as the "Gold Coast." In 2000, the City of Miami was home to about 362 thousand people, and the metropolitan area contained a population of over 2.4 million souls.

Downtown Miami Skyline

Downtown Miami Skyline

Photo by Dori

The Port of Miami is one of the United States' busiest ports, being both a major gateway for cargo in the Americas and a busy cruise center. The city is also one of the country's major financial and commercial centers, home to corporate headquarters of international and national companies. Due to its strategic location in the near the Caribbean and Latin America, the city is home to the headquarters for over 1400 corporations' Latin American operations. Some of these include Disney, American Airlines, FedEx, Microsoft, Sony, Kraft Foods, and many others. Due to its popularity with both tourists and potential residents, the Port of Miami is one of America's most expensive cities.

Port History

In the 16th Century, Spanish explorers discovered a village of Tequesta Indians on the site of today's Port of Miami. The village may have been as much as two thousand years old. In 1567, the Spanish built a mission on the site in their unsuccessful attempts to overpower the Tequesta. Spain was forced to cede the area to England in 1821, but it took it back in 1783.

<i>Carnival Destiny</i> leaving the Port of Miami

Carnival Destiny leaving the Port of Miami

Taken on 22 December 2011.
Photo by Nbx909

The United States took over Florida from Spain in 1821, they built Fort Dallas as a base for fighting the Seminole Wars. At this time, a few European settlers began to move into the area that is today the Port of Miami.

Miami Waterfront

Miami Waterfront

Photo by Poco a poco

In 1896, the Florida East Coast Railway reached the Port of Miami after a freeze killed most of the state's citrus crop (except the orchards in Miami). The railroad builder, Henry M. Flagler, also dredged the harbor, built the Royal Palm Hotel, and began to advertise for tourists. The city was incorporated that year.

Opening of Collins Bridge<br>June 12, 1913

Opening of Collins Bridge
June 12, 1913

The Collins Bridge crossed Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach from 1913 to 1925, when it was replaced with the Venetian Causeway.
Photo by Vaoverland

In the early 1920s, Florida underwent a land boom, and the population of the Port of Miami more than tripled. However, the short-term speculation came to an end, and a terrible hurricane struck the area in 1926. The Port of Miami languished for over a decade.

Breakwater Hotel<br>Miami Beach Art Deco District

Breakwater Hotel
Miami Beach Art Deco District

Photo by Ad Meskens

In the 1930s, a construction boom saw the creation of many Art Deco buildings in the Port of Miami. However, World War II interrupted the new growth. Soldiers replaced tourists, and the beaches were transformed into rifle ranges. After the war ended, many of those soldiers returned to the Port of Miami to live.

Bicycles riding north on Biscayne Boulevard<br>Circa 1940

Bicycles riding north on Biscayne Boulevard
Circa 1940

Freedom Tower is in the left background.
Photo by Florida Photographic Collection

In the 1950s and 1960s, many Latin American immigrants flowed into the city. The Port of Miami gained a large Cuban community as refugees began to arrive after the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro.

In the 1980s, the Port of Miami gained a reputation for being a hub for the illegal drug trade. In the 1990s, several incidents of violence against tourists discouraged people from visiting the city. However, by the late 1990s, tourists were returning to the city and its vibrant life.

Miami's Hotel Row in 1972

Miami's Hotel Row in 1972

View of hotels along Collins Avenue in August 1972.
Photo by National Archives and Records Administration

Today, the Port of Miami is a cosmopolitan city with a modern skyline of glass skyscrapers and a nighttime afire with neon lights. It is a center for Latin American music and dance and a city of diverse cultures. Little Havana is a Cuban area just west of downtown, and Little Haiti grew up in the 1990s to the north of downtown.

Port of Miami Cruise Terminal

Port of Miami Cruise Terminal

Downtown Miami is in the background. Photo taken 27 July 2008.
Photo by Poco a poco

The modern Port of Miami is an international center for banking, finance, business services, commerce, and manufacturing. Manufactured goods include clothing, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, metal products, and printing. In addition to a wide range of international cargoes, the Port of Miami is a world leader in the cruise ship industry. Miami International Airport also handles cargo and millions of passengers traveling between the North America, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The Port of Miami is also an international center for the entertainment industry, with many film, television, music, fashion, and performing arts events throughout the year.

Miami Cruise Terminals<br>July 1972

Miami Cruise Terminals
July 1972

Photo by National Archives and Records Administration

Since the turn of the century, the Port of Miami has experienced a large boom in building. More than 50 skyscrapers over 122 meters tall have been or are being built, making Miami the third tallest skyline in the United States. In 2008, Forbes Magazine ranked the Port of Miami as "America's Cleanest City," recognizing its good air quality, safe drinking water, clean streets, plentiful green spaces, and city-wide recycling programs. In the same year, UBS AG also recognized Miami as the third richest city in the United States.

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