Miami (/maɪˈæmi/; Spanish pronunciation: [maiˈami] ) is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat ofMiami-Dade County. The 44th most populated city proper in the United States, with a population of 417,650, it is the principal, central, and most populous city of the Miami metropolitan area, and the most populous metropolis in the Southeastern United States after Washington, D.C. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Miami's metro area is the eighth most populous and fourth-largest urban area in the United States, with a population of around 5.5 million.
Miami is a major center and a leader in finance, commerce, culture, media, entertainment, the arts, and international trade. In 2012, Miami was classified as an Alpha-World City in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory. In 2010, Miami ranked seventh in the United States in terms of finance, commerce, culture, entertainment, fashion, education, and other sectors. It ranked thirty-third among global cities. In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Miami "America's Cleanest City", for its year-round good air quality, vast green spaces, clean drinking water, clean streets and city-wide recycling programs. According to a 2009 UBS study of 73 world cities, Miami was ranked as the richest city in the United States, and the world's fifth-richest city in terms of purchasing power. Miami is nicknamed the "Capital of Latin America", is the second largest U.S. city with a Spanish-speaking majority, and the largest city with a Cuban-Americanplurality.
Downtown Miami is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and many large national and international companies.The Civic Center is a major center for hospitals, research institutes, medical centers, and biotechnology industries. For more than two decades, the Port of Miami, known as the "Cruise Capital of the World," has been the number one cruise passenger port in the world. It accommodates some of the world's largest cruise ships and operations, and is the busiest port in both passenger traffic and cruise lines.
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The Miami area was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous cultures. The Tequestas occupied the area for a thousand years before encountering Europeans. An Indian village of hundreds of people dating to 500-600 B.C. was located at the mouth of the Miami River.
In 1566 the explorer, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, claimed it for Spain. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567. Spain and Great Britain successively "controlled" Florida, and Spain ceded it to the United States in 1821. In 1836, the US built Fort Dallas as part of its development of the Florida Territory and attempt to suppress and remove the Seminole. The Miami area subsequently became a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.
Miami is noted as "the only major city in the United States conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle", a local citrus grower and a wealthyCleveland native. The Miami area was better known as "Biscayne Bay Country" in the early years of its growth. In the late 19th century, reports described the area as a promising wilderness. The area was also characterized as "one of the finest building sites in Florida."The Great Freeze of 1894–95 hastened Miami's growth, as the crops of the Miami area were the only ones in Florida that survived. Julia Tuttle subsequently convinced Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to expand 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 nearby Miami River, derived from Mayaimi, the historic name of Lake Okeechobee.
During the early 20th century, northerners were attracted to the city, and Miami prospered during the 1920s with an increase in population and infrastructure. The collapse of the Florida land boom of the 1920s, the1926 Miami Hurricane, and the Great Depression in the 1930s slowed development. When World War II began, Miami, well-situated on the southern coast of Florida, became a base for US defense agains tGerman submarines. The war brought an increase in Miami's population; by 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city.
After Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba in 1959, many wealthy Cubans sought refuge in Miami, further increasing the population. The city developed businesses and cultural amenities as part of the New South. In the 1980s and 1990s, South Florida weathered social problems related to drug wars, immigration from Haiti and Latin America, and the widespread destruction of Hurricane Andrew. Racial and cultural tensions were sometimes sparked, but the city developed in the latter half of the 20th century as a major international, financial, and cultural center. It is the second-largest U.S. city (after El Paso, Texas) with a Spanish-speaking majority, and the largest city with a Cuban-American plurality.
Miami and its metropolitan area grew from just over one thousand residents to nearly five and a half million residents in just 110 years (1896–2006). The city's nickname, The Magic City, comes from this rapid growth. Winter visitors remarked that the city grew so much from one year to the next that it was like magic.
Miami and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Florida Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay to the east, which also extends from Florida Bay north to Lake Okeechobee. The elevation of the area never rises above 40 ft (12 m) and averages at around 6 ft (1.8 m) above mean sea level in most neighborhoods, especially near the coast. The highest undulations are found along the coastal Miami Rock Ridge, whose substrate underlies most of the eastern Miami metropolitan region. The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially created 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.
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 glaciations or ice ages. Beginning some 130,000 years ago the Sangamonian Stage raised sea levels to approximately 25 feet (7.6 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 to 300 to 350 feet (110 m) below the contemporary level. The sea level rose quickly after that, stabilizing at the current level about 4000 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 toFlorida Bay, with its highest point peaking around the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah. Most of the Miami metropolitan area obtains its drinking water from this aquifer. As a result of the aquifer, it is not possible to dig more than 15 to 20 ft (4.6 to 6.1 m) beneath the city without hitting water, which impedes underground construction. For this reason, the mass transit systems in and around Miami are elevated or at-grade.
Most of the western fringes of the city extend into the Everglades, a subtropical marshland located in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida. Alligators have ventured into Miami communities and on major highways.
In terms of land area, Miami is one of the smallest major cities in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, the city encompasses a total area of 55.27 sq mi (143.1 km2). Of that area, 35.67 sq mi (92.4 km2) is land and 19.59 sq mi (50.7 km2) is water. That means Miami comprises over 400,000 people in 35 square miles (91 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.
Miami is a major center of commerce, finance, and boasts a strong international business community. According to the ranking of world cities undertaken by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network (GaWC) in 2010 and based on the level of presence of global corporate service organizations, Miami is considered a "Alpha minus world city". Miami has a Gross Metropolitan Product of $257 billion and is ranked 20th worldwide in GMP, and 11th in the United States.
Several large companies are headquartered in or around Miami, including but not limited to: Akerman Senterfitt, Alienware, Arquitectonica, Arrow Air, Bacardi, Benihana, Brightstar Corporation, Burger King, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Corporation, Carnival Cruise Lines, CompUSA, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, Espírito Santo Financial Group, Fizber.com, Greenberg Traurig, Holland & Knight, Inktel Direct,Interval International, Lennar, Navarro Discount Pharmacies, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, Perry Ellis International, RCTV International, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ryder Systems, Seabourn Cruise Line, Sedano's, Telefónica USA, UniMÁS, Telemundo, Univision,U.S. Century Bank, Vector Group and World Fuel Services. Because of its proximity to Latin America, Miami serves as the headquarters of Latin American operations for more than 1400 multinational corporations, including AIG, American Airlines, Cisco, Disney, Exxon, FedEx, Kraft Foods,LEO Pharma Americas, Microsoft, Yahoo, Oracle, SBC Communications, Sony, Symantec, Visa International, and Wal-Mart.
Miami is a major television production center, and the most important city in the U.S. for Spanish language media. Univisión, Telemundo and UniMÁS have their headquarters in Miami, along with their production studios. The Telemundo Television Studios produces much of the original programming for Telemundo, such as their telenovelas and talk shows. In 2011, 85% of Telemundo's original programming was filmed in Miami.Miami is also a major music recording center, with the Sony Music Latin and Universal Music Latin Entertainment headquarters in the city, along with many other smaller record labels. The city also attracts many artists for music video and film shootings.
Since 2001, Miami has been undergoing a large building boom with more than 50 skyscrapers rising over 400 feet (122 m) built or currently under construction in the city. Miami's skyline is ranked third most impressive in the U.S., behind New York City and Chicago, and 19th in the world according to the Almanac of Architecture and Design. The city currently has the eight tallest (as well as thirteen of the fourteen tallest) skyscrapers in the state of Florida, with the tallest being the 789-foot (240 m) Four Seasons Hotel & Tower.
During the mid-2000s, the city witnessed its largest real estate boom since the Florida land boom of the 1920s. During this period, the city had well over a hundred approved high-rise construction projects in which 50 were actually built. In 2007, however, the housing market crashed causing lots of foreclosures on houses. This rapid high-rise construction, has led to fast population growth in the city's inner neighborhoods, primarily in Downtown, Brickell and Edgewater, with these neighborhoods becoming the fastest-growing areas in the city. The Miami area ranks 8th in the nation in foreclosures. In 2011, Forbes magazine named Miami the second most miserable city in the United States due to its high foreclosure rate and past decade of corruption among public officials. In 2012, Forbes magazine named Miami the most miserable city in the United States because of a crippling housing crisis that has cost multitudes of residents their homes and jobs. The metro area has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country and workers face lengthy daily commutes.
Miami International Airport and PortMiami are among the nation's busiest ports of entry, especially for cargo from South America and the Caribbean. The Port of Miami is the world's busiest cruise port, and MIA is the busiest airport in Florida, and the largest gateway between the United States and Latin America. Additionally, the city has the largest concentration of international banks in the country, primarily along Brickell Avenue inBrickell, Miami's financial district. Due to its strength in international business, finance and trade, many international banks have offices in Downtown such as Espírito Santo Financial Group, which has its U.S. headquarters in Miami. Miami was also the host city of the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations, and is one of the leading candidates to become the trading bloc's headquarters.
As of 2011, PortMiami accounts for 176,000 jobs and has an annual economic impact in Miami of $18 billion. It is the 11th-largest cargo container port in the United States. In 2010, a record 4.33 million passengers traveled through PortMiami. One in seven of all the world’s cruise passengers start from Miami.
Tourism is also an important industry in Miami. Along with finance and business, the beaches, conventions, festivals and events draw over 38 million visitors annually into the city, from across the country and around the world, spending $17.1 billion. The Art Deco District in South 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 Sony Ericsson Open, Art Basel, Winter Music Conference, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami attract millions to the metropolis every year.
Miami is the home to the National Hurricane Center and the headquarters of the United States Southern Command, responsible for military operations in Central and South America. In addition to these roles, Miami is also an industrial center, especially for stone quarrying and warehousing. These industries are centered largely on the western fringes of the city near Doral and Hialeah.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2004, Miami had the third highest incidence of family incomes below the federal poverty line in the United States, making it the third poorest city in the USA, behind only Detroit, Michigan (ranked #1) and El Paso, Texas (ranked #2). Miami is also one of the very few cities where its local government went bankrupt, in 2001. However, since that time, Miami has experienced a revival: in 2008, Miami was ranked as "America's Cleanest City" according to Forbes for its year-round good air quality, vast green spaces, clean drinking water, clean streets and city-wide recycling programs. In a 2009 UBS study of 73 world cities, Miami was ranked as the richest city in the United States (of four U.S. cities included in the survey) and the world's fifth-richest city, in terms of purchasing power.
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Public schools in Miami are governed by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which is the largest school district in Florida and the fourth-largest in the United States. As of September 2008 it has a student enrollment of 385,655 and over 392 schools and centers. The district is also the largest minority public school system in the country, with 60% of its students being of Hispanic origin, 28% Black or West Indian American, 10% White (non-Hispanic) and 2% non-white of other minorities. Miami is home to some of the nation's best high schools, such as Design and Architecture High School, ranked the nation's best magnet school, MAST Academy, Coral Reef High School, ranked 20th-best public high school in the U.S.,Miami Palmetto High School, and the New World School of the Arts. M-DCPS is also one of a few public school districts in the United States to offer optional bilingual education in Spanish, French, German, Haitian Creole, and Mandarin Chinese.
Miami is home to several well-known Roman Catholic, Jewish and non-denominational private schools. The Archdiocese of Miami operates the city's Catholic private schools, which include: St. Hugh Catholic School, St. Agatha Catholic School, St. Theresa School, Immaculata-Lasalle High School, Monsignor Edward Pace High School, Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School, St. Brendan High School, amongst numerous other Catholic elementary and high schools.
All-boys Catholic college preparatory schools are Christopher Columbus High School and Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. All-girls Catholic preparatory schools are Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy.
Non-denominational private schools in Miami are Ransom Everglades, Gulliver Preparatory School, and Miami Country Day School. Other schools in the area include Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School, Dade Christian School, Palmer Trinity School, and Westminster Christian School.
Miami has over 200,000 students enrolled in local colleges and universities, placing it seventh in the nation in per capita university enrollment. In 2010, the city's four largest colleges and universities (MDC, FIU, UM, and Barry) graduated 28,000 students.
Colleges and universities in and around Miami:
In 2011, Miami was ranked as the sixth most-read city in the U.S. with high book sales.
Miami is also home to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations that offer a range of professional training and other, related educational programs. Per Scholas, for example is a nonprofit organization that offers free professional certification training directed towards successfully passing CompTIA A+ and Network+ certification exams as a route to securing jobs and building careers.