The Miami Ghetto:
A Rare Look Into the Real Miami Neighborhoods
When people think about the streets of the Miami ghetto the areas of Overtown, Little Haiti, or Liberty City are the main communities to first come to mind.
While those sections are the only black communities that are in the city limits of Miami, along with Coconut Grove, there are other predominantly black neighborhoods throughout Dade County.
Many of these Miami neighborhoods have been around for generations, while other Miami neighborhoods did not gain an Afrian-American population until the beginning of the 1960s.
One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and originally called Colored Town, the Overtown Miami community was once considered as the “Harlem of the South”.
The 2nd Avenue area of the community was the heart of Miami’s black community during the time when Overtown was the only place black families could live at, outside of West Grove a small community in Coconut Grove that was founded by Bahamians.
Eventually, the historic community of Overtown became the center of all black society in South Florida with entertainment for African-Americans and numerous black-owned businesses.
Unfortunately, the decline of the Overtown Miami neighborhood began during the 1960s as Interstate 95 was placed directly in the heart of the neighborhood, which displaced thousands of people and destroyed numerous businesses.
Currently, the Overtown Miami area is experiencing gentrification and is constantly changing as the close distance to Miami’s downtown is allowing the construction of high-rise luxury condos and upscale businesses while pushing many of the residents out.
The streets of Overtown within the Miami ghetto once consisted of various sections like Swamp City, Culmer Place, Rainbow Village or Town Park, a low-income neighborhood with mainly apartment buildings and housing complexes.
Liberty City Miami
While there once was a small black community around Hadley Park, not until the building of the Liberty Square housing projects during the 1930s did Liberty City Miami begin to become part of Miami’s African-American community.
Eventually, the Liberty City Miami community and its black population slowly expanded to nearby Brownsville (Brown Sub) and 15th Avenue became one of Miami’s most popular sections within Miami’s black community.
Unfortunately, the Liberty City Miami neighborhood would also known for one of Florida’s worst race riots, which occurred during the summer of 1980 after a local African-American was killed by Miami police.
After years of tension between black Miamians of Liberty City and the other societies of the city, along with lack resources and community mistreatment, days of rioting that injured dozens and caused damaged to the community.
The street culture of the Miami ghetto has a claim with many knowing the Liberty City Miami area for the days of the many Miami legends and entrepreneurs like Convertible Bert or the days of the Cloud 9 and John Does during the 1990s.
Liberty City or the City is one of Miami’s largest communities with neighborhoods like Lincoln Field, Pork N Beans, the 40s, PSU, 6-1, 15th Avenue, and other blocks and apartment complexes.
What began as a small community in Northwest Miami by the name of Lemon City slowly changed during the 1970s as Haitian refugees fled the corruption of their native country to live in Miami.
Mostly all were placed in the Lemon City community, which already had a black presence, helping the existing black neighborhood to eventually become known as Little Haiti for its influx of Hatians.
Over the years, the Haitian population further grew and expanded into Miami neighborhoods like North Miami and North Miami Beach, as those two communities would be an extension of Little Haiti with a well known large Haitian population within their city limits.
One of Dade County’s most legendary neighborhoods of the Miami ghetto is home to the community known by the media as the Triangle around Ali Baba Avenue and apartment complexes that were once known locally as the Pinks and the Blues.
With the media constantly showing the violence of Opa-Locka during the 1980s and 1990s the city decided to place steel barriers in a certain area, this area would eventually become known as the Triangle, while in recent years many refer to the area as 21 Jump Street.
Opa-Locka is a unique city with many historic and Arabic style like buildings, while when the city of Opa-Locka was created there were policies that kept black residents from moving into the community.
By the 1960s, many people began to move from their older neighborhoods of Overtown and Liberty City into new communities that were once forbidden for black residents, this made Opa-Locka one of the few neighborhoods that black families would relocate into.
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Wynwood is a neighborhood that was once called Little San Juan after being Miami’s culture center for its Puerto Rican population that arrived during the 1950s.
Not until the 1960s and the 1970s did the community of Wynwood become a more diverse neighborhood with African-Americans and Latinos.
Today, the community is becoming more of a gentrified neighborhood with the near location to Biscayne Blvd. as investors are trying to make the area more of an upscale shopping and tourist district.
Miami Gardens (Miami Carol City)
Neighborhoods like Behind the P, Bunche Park, Carol City, and the Norland area, which consists of Norwood and Cloverleaf, are the main sections that are within the city limits of Miami Gardens.
Before Miami Gardens, many neighborhoods had their own reputation like Carol City and the Matchbox Projects or Opa-Locka’s Behind the P neighborhood, together with a few other communities and apartments.
Miami Gardens has 75% of its population living in Miami’s black community, making it one of the country’s largest cities that has a predominantly black population.
Miami Gardens was officially created during the early 2000s as an attempt to make the community an all-black middle-class neighborhood, but only a little has changed since the merger of Carol City and Miami Gardens.
The black community of Coconut Grove is sometimes referred as West Grove or Black Grove, a large neighborhood that is located along Grand Avenue.
Black Grove is one of Florida’s oldest communities after being created during the 1880s by Bahamians that worked locally in service positions that catered to Miami’s rich elite.
This once thriving area started to decline as the city replaced many of the homes with apartment complexes, a way that was supposedly to improve the community but instead actually harmed the area.
Today, Coconut Grove is one of Miami’s most luxurious neighborhoods and gentrification seems to be slowly heading towards the West Grove section as the property values are rising.
South Miami-Dade County
The South Miami ghetto, or “Down South”, is the least talked about as many people look over the neighborhoods of Richmond Heights, Goulds, Perrine, Naranja, Florida City or the South Miami apartments around SW 68th Street and SW 59th Place.
Some of Miami’s oldest black communities are located in South Dade County as many originally came to the area to help with farming and cropping different types of fruit as the land and its soil was perfect growing some of Florida’s most known crops.
As the farming industry for African-Americans slowed down in South Dade County, many of the neighborhoods began to decline due a lack of opportunities and resources.
As years went on the communities “Down South” built their own reputations separate from other parts of the city the likes of apartment complexes like Chocolate City, Rainbow City, and numerous others expanding from Florida City to Richmond Heights.
The housing projects played a huge role in the forming of the Miami ghetto, with the first housing project that was created being the Pork N Beans (Liberty Square) in Liberty City Miami.
Liberty Square was built to relieve the overcrowding in Overtown Miami, while also being a way to move people from Overtown since the community’s location had been sought after since the beginning of the 1900s.
Carver Village, built in the area of Little Haiti and Liberty City, was one of the first times that blacks were able to live outside of their traditional segregated communities.
Even though many black families had problems and confrontations moving into the community after the housing complex was originally for white residents only, Carver Village would eventually become predominantly African-American.
The city’s housing projects would later become under controversy with problems from the government cutting funding, which led many complexes to not be properly up kept, to management and police evicting tenants and placing restrictions on the residents.
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Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.