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Which was the first 20th century district listed on the National Register of Historic Places?


(Barbara Capitman, circa 1980. Credit Miami News Collection, HistoryMiami, 1995-277-11649)

In 1979, when Barbara Capitman founded the Miami Design Preservation League, that area of Miami-Dade County dominated by Art Deco style hotels had, for some time, been in decline as a resort, much of it looking rather sad and decayed. Capitman and a few others saw these buildings as a vibrant architectural expression of that period spanning the 1930s, from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. A style reflective of the streamlined designs for trains, airplanes and ships of the time, it was dubbed "Moderne" or "Depression Moderne." (Mediterranean Revival had been the favored architectural style during the 1920s.) In any case, the unique vision of Capitman caught hold and many others came to appreciate the unique architectural style of numerous hotels and other buildings inhabiting this section of Miami-Dade County. Renovations began to occur which would eventually turn this area into a major international tourist destination and would earn for it the distinction of being the first 20th century district listed in the National Register of Historical Places.

Answer: Miami Beach's Art Deco District

Posted at 09:44 AM on May 27, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Who is credited with giving Miami the nickname: "The Magic City"?


(Cover of postcard booklet, circa 1920. Credit HistoryMiami)

The creator of the famous nickname came to Florida from New York, initially settling in Lake County, where he raised citrus and propagated the Bible as a Methodist minister. After the devastating freeze of 1895, he headed for Miami, where, the following year, he organized the First Methodist Episcopal Church. Also during the pivotal year of 1896, when the Florida East Coast Railway first arrived in Miami, and the community, so named, was formally incorporated as a municipality, he commenced work as a newspaper correspondent for Henry Flagler, and served as editor of Flagler's Florida East Coast Homeseeker.  In the same booster spirit that coined Miami's nickname, "The Magic City," he arranged for the city's first convention, a gathering of tobacco growers, and organized the Mid-Winter Fair, the first county fair in Florida.  In his account of our community's early years he related Julia Tuttle's expansive vision which she confided to him in 1896. His initial response: "You have a very active and far reaching imagination." Yet, not too many years later, he had to admit that most of her ambitious predictions had come true.

Answer: E.V. Blackman


Posted at 09:41 AM on May 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What was the original name of the first hotel in the Miami area?


(Miami’s first hotel. Credit Ralph Munroe Collection, HistoryMiami, 153D)

Having immigrated from England, Charles and Isabella Peacock could be found residing at Fort Dallas on the north side of the Miami River in the early 1880s. Ralph Munroe, who would soon make Coconut Grove his permanent home, had much to do with convincing the couple to open a hotel to accommodate winter guests. Originally, the Peacocks selected the Lemon City area (Little Haiti today) as a suitable site, but in 1884, Munroe persuaded them to locate south of the Miami River and was, as well, instrumental in procuring building materials for the house  that arose on bay front property, situated in what is now Coconut Grove's Peacock Park. When completed, the residence, Munroe admitted, gave "little evidence of architectural beauty," later to be known as The Peacock Inn, had a long and profitable career, thanks to the congenial hospitality of the couple who ran it. In time, several larger buildings were added. Having been so influential in the undertaking, Ralph Munroe became the Peacock's number one guest and others among his northern friends soon joined him for South Florida's sheltering winters. By all accounts, Charles Peacock was a very able cook and Munroe glowingly characterized Isabella Peacock as "mother, nurse, teacher, friend and helper” to the growing community.

Answer: The Bay View House

Posted at 09:27 AM on May 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How soon after being sentenced to death for the assassination of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was Giuseppe Zangara executed?


(Zangara, 1933. Credit HistoryMiami, 1997-402-2)

On February 15th, 1933, amid a crowd assembled at Bayfront Park to hear Franklin D. Roosevelt speak, Giuseppe Zangara augmented his five foot frame by standing on his toes atop a metal chair, with the intention of assassinating the President-Elect. Using a .32 caliber revolver, Zangara got off five shots, although, after the first discharge, quick witted bystanders grabbed his arm and forced it upwards, almost certainly saving Roosevelt's life. Zangara continued to fire, however, wounding five people, including Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak. Hustled off to jail, Zangara was judged sane by a special commission, in spite of the fact his hatred for kings, presidents and other political leaders was based, not on anarchist antipathy for political authority, but on his chronic abdominal pain which he believed such authorities engendered. Originally sentenced to 80 years in prison, Zangara was subsequently arraigned on charges of murder, after Mayor Cermak died of his wound. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death by Circuit Court Judge Uly O. Thompson.

Answer: Less than two weeks.


Posted at 02:00 PM on May 7, 2013 in History Question of the Week | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What was the first racially integrated institution of higher learning in Florida?



(Registration for Classes, 1970. Credit HistoryMiami, 1989-011-10188)


When it first opened this institution was originally on the site of a former agricultural school. Many of the classes were housed in wooden structures associated with the locale's earlier usage, including (as humorously recalled) ex-chicken coops, still designated "Laying House No. 1" and "Laying House No. 2." In 1962 it moved to a group of converted World War II barracks with the first permanent building completed in 1963. It was during this time that the institution took the step of fully integrating the institution. Originally planned to serve 3,000 students, its enrollment exceeded 50,000 by the mid-1990s.

Answer: Miami-Dade College

Posted at 08:42 AM on May 6, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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