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Origins of Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul George, BT Contributor   
April 2020

Origins of Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay

IPix_PictureStory_4-20n recent decades, many portions of unincorporated Miami-Dade County have evolved into incorporated municipalities. Archaeology informs us that portions of two of those new communities, the picturesque towns of Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay, hosted humanity 10,000 years ago -- an astounding amount of time for an area considered too young to possess a history.

Little is known of the area between that long-ago period, when Paleo-Indians traversed an Edenic wilderness, and recent centuries. In the 1830s, however, the story received a strong boost with an award to Dr. Henry Perrine by the federal government of a 36-square-mile township encompassing much of today’s deep-south Miami-Dade County.

Perrine planned to create an agricultural colony on a ridge overlooking Biscayne Bay for the cultivation of subtropical trees and plants.

Perrine was unable to activate the land grant, owing to his tragic death at the hands of marauding Seminoles in the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), but others later carved out a farming community called Cutler.

Centered near today’s Charles Deering Estate, Cutler was noted for its long docks reaching into the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, a popular inn for visitors, and a bustling general store, and became the lifeline for nearby agricultural communities. Its time, however, was brief. Bypassed by the expanding Florida East Coast Railway as it hurtled south along the spine of the Florida peninsula, Cutler dissolved in the early 1900s, to be replaced in the 1920s by the Charles Deering Estate. This region today is part of the Town of Palmetto Bay.

Another portion of the Perrine Land Grant hosted the Peters’ tomato farm, the most successful agricultural business in South Dade. Later, the expansive residential community of Cutler Ridge, closely connected to the Homestead Air Force Base and the venue for the first major shopping mall in South Dade, emerged in the first flush of post-World War II prosperity. That area today represents a portion of the Town of Cutler Bay.

 

Paul George is historian at HistoryMiami Museum. To order a copy of this photo, contact HistoryMiami archives manager Ashley Trujillo at 305-375-1623, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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