|Miami Amid Its First Boom|
|Written by Paul S. George -- Special to the BT|
A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami
Downtown Miami had changed dramatically when this photograph of 12th Street, today’s Flagler Street, was taken in 1916.
The street was and would continue to be the main commercial street in Miami for five decades beyond that era. This photograph underlines the growing pervasiveness of automobiles, although if you look closely, you can see both bicycles, a favorite mode of transportation in earlier times, and a horse-drawn carriage.
On the far left side of the photograph (the north side of 12th Street) stands Budge’s three story, iconic red brick hardware store and, in the distance, the turreted Halcyon Hall Hotel. On the right side is the Biscayne Hotel, and just beyond it the five-story Burdines Department Store, the city’s first “skyscraper,” also known as the “Big Store.”
The city bus in the center of the photograph rambled west across the Miami River into the Riverside neighborhood, today’s East Little Havana. Baseball was Miami’s most popular sport in that era, and the bus carries the announcement of a baseball game that day.
Although Miami appeared sleepy and formal, in terms of its residents’ attire at the time, the city was immersed in one of its earliest booms. Its population would rise in that decade from 5500 to nearly 30,000, the highest percentage of growth among American cities.
New suburbs north, south, and west of downtown would arise in that era.
America’s involvement in World War I, which was just a year away for the country when this picture was taken, would help transform portions of Miami and its hinterland into an armed forces camp. Indeed the era pictured here was perhaps the last time Miami could be characterized as quiescent, at least in the summers.
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