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 that first come to mind.
While those sections are the only true urban communities that are within the city limits of Miami, along with a small section of Coconut Grove, there are other neighborhoods scattered throughout Dade County.
Many of these Miami neighborhoods have been around for generations, while other Miami neighborhoods did not gain an African-American population until the beginning of the 1960s.
One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and originally called Colored Town is the Overtown Miami community, which 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, 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 for 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, and Town Park as Overtown is 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 the Liberty City Miami neighborhood 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), while 15th Avenue became one of Miami’s most popular sections within the city’s black community.
Unfortunately, the Liberty City Miami neighborhood was 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, led to days of rioting that injured dozens and caused much 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 the John Does during the 1990s.
Liberty City, or the City for short, is one of Miami’s largest communities with neighborhoods like Lincoln Field, the Pork N Beans, the 40s, PSU, 6-1, 15th Avenue, 18th Avenue and many 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 the influx of Haitian arrivals into the community.
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 due to a well known large Haitian population.
One of Dade County’s most legendary neighborhoods of the Miami ghetto is home to the community that was once known by the media as the Triangle around Ali Baba Avenue and for 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 some may refer to the area as 21 Jump Street.
Opa-Locka, which is a unique city with many historic and Arabic style like buildings, was originally developed for white families as there were policies that kept black residents from moving into the community.
By the 1960s, many African Americans began to move from their older neighborhoods of Overtown and Liberty City into newer communities that were once forbidden for black residents, this made Opa-Locka one of the few neighborhoods that black families would relocate into during that period.
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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 more diverse as the neighborhood became racially mixed 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 sections.
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 late 1800s 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 is slowly redeveloping the West Grove section with the local property values 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 fruits as the land and its soil was perfect growing for 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 of “Down South” built their own reputations separate from other parts of the Miami-Dade with the likes of apartment complexes like Chocolate City, Rainbow City, and numerous others expanding from Florida City to Richmond Heights.
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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.