“Mid-flight between Miami and Havana, in either direction, I believe I can hold both sides together. Increasingly, there is the possibility for a coherent perspective, for an imagined future that transcends the rupture without denying the pain, without compromising the ethics and principles that in the long run make a difference in history.”

– María de Los Angeles Torres, In the Land of Mirrors (200)

In the summer of 2005, the historian and scholar of human migration, Melanie Shell-Weiss, published an essay in a special, transnational issue of the regional journal Florida Historical Quarterly. The article was called “Coming North to the South: Migration, Labor and City-Building in Twentieth-Century Miami,” and it described the experiences of early-twentieth-century Bahamian migrants to South Florida in order to argue that “Miami has always been a transnational city, even if it only recently has become a global city.” In the commentaries section of this same issue, Alex Lichtenstein, an historian of race and labor in the American South, set out to respond to Shell-Weiss’ thesis that Miami was “not a new immigrant city.” He cited sociological distinctions between “internal” and “foreign-born” migrants, and he questioned the historical impact of the latter group in “the first half of the twentieth century” when compared with the second half. He dug into the city’s census records, listing out percentages of foreign and native-born migrants for each decade of Miami’s history. He then weighed the early statistics for human migration against other urban areas with substantial portions of foreign-born migrants. Afterward, he concluded that “by no stretch of the imagination could Miami be described as a city significantly shaped by foreign immigration prior to 1960.” Later, he stated bluntly that “the visible imprint of the Bahamian contribution was limited,” leaving only a “faint” impression on the urban landscape. This impression was minimal when compared to that of the Latin American and Caribbean migrants who completely “remade the face of the city” in the decades following the Cuban Revolution of 1959.[1]

These FHQ exchanges between Shell-Weiss and Lichtenstein epitomized the character of Miami historiography in the early-twenty-first century. Everything from a mutual desire to “distinguish sharply between the pre- and post-1960s eras,” an interrogation of a “foreign” Bahamian influence in reference to that of later “foreign” migrants from the Spanish and French-speaking countries of the Caribbean and Latin America, and what some have called an often-excessive “quibble over numbers” was characteristic of where the urban history of Miami stood in the early 2000s, as well as where it had come from. All things considered, the debate over whether Miami was or was not a “new immigrant city” was essentially a trial about the city’s past. Indeed, if Miami was a “new immigrant city,” as Lichtenstein argued, then where did its pre-1960 history belong? On the contrary, if Miami had “always been” a transnational city as Shell-Weiss claimed, then how should the unique effects of its post-1960 transformation be fully appreciated?[2]

The following essay will provide background to this special historiographical moment. It will offer a cursory overview of Miami historiography from about the founding of the city in 1896 up to these 2005 exchanges. The defining factor of the essay is that its analysis is confined entirely to the provincial, urban historiography of one single city. In other words, this paper does not draw upon theoretical models applied in different urban environments, American or otherwise; it is not comparative in scope; and it does not cite broader historical contexts. Of course, there are moments when Miami’s historiographical turns are probably more indicative of larger trends—like the rise of cliometrics, new social sciences, or postcolonial narratives—than they are of any self-contained idea about the city or a single generation of writers. Nonetheless, the present author hopes only that this historiography of Miami, however insulated and self-serving in its content, will provide a detailed case study for those authors who are bold enough to make larger connections.

A brief recapitulation of Miami history will help set the tone for its first period of historiography. The region of Miami was acquired by the US government from the Spanish Crown during the first era of American imperialism in the early nineteenth century. The acquisition was secured through military and naval actions like the Seminole Wars and the patrolling of the US West Indies Squadron. Nonetheless, the secluded area was a faraway home for mariners, squatters, traders, and homesteaders until a northern capitalist invested in a railroad extension at the end of the nineteenth century. In this way, Miami become one of the last major US cities to be founded. For the first sixty years of its existence, Miami was an unusual American city. It was largely built upon a unique combination of capital from white Yankee transplants, vacationers, and business leaders; and labor from black workers of the US South and the adjacent Caribbean islands. The city blended the rigid, segregationist social policies of the American “New South” with the industrial energy and moral detachment of the American Northeast and Midwest. All of this was characterized by a Protestant religious culture and a driving emphasis on sub-tropical, “Sunbelt tourism” over manufacturing and agriculture. Whites from the Deep South had formed the majority of Anglos in the Miami area. They came from places like South Carolina and Georgia and were deeply Protestant. They were joined by wealthy entrepreneurs and speculators from the Northeast and the Midwest.[3]

During its early years, Miami’s history was written primarily by civic officials, advertisers, promoters, business executives, and journalists. These authors wrote consensus-style, booster narratives grounded in progressive ideals of capitalism and individualism. They praised the singular efforts of early, Anglo entrepreneur-settlers whom they envisioned as carving a literal and metaphorical pathway for Miami’s promising future through the untamed wilderness in a remote corner of Florida. Northern white homesteaders and venture capitalists were positioned as “great men” in promotional histories that downplayed such controversial topics as racial antagonism between whites and blacks, environmental degradation, and Indian dispossession. If Miami’s history was worth telling at all to these early authors, it was mostly because history had a power to produce a digestible, all-American sense of community among the white, urban residents. This sense of community helped to sell more land, encourage expansion, and produce a profit for a group the historian Chanelle Rose calls the “civic booster elite” and N.D.B. Connolly calls the “civic leaders.”[4]

Writing in 1921, E.V. Blackman encapsulated the sentiment of these early histories. Blackman was a real-estate speculator, pastor, and civic organizer with direct ties to the city’s elites as secretary and general manager of the Dade County Fair Association. The broad themes of Miami’s early histories—exceptionalism, triumphalism, capitalism, optimism, and racial avoidance—were all signaled in the title of his work: Miami and Dade County, Florida; its Settlement, Progress and Achievement. Blackman introduced his book by declaring that he was inspired “by an earnest desire to see woven into permanent record the wonderful story of this wonderful community, for the benefit not only of contemporary readers, but for future generations as well.” To him, Miami’s history was a model continuation of the ongoing project whereby white settlers of “splendid stock” carved “empires out of wilderness.” His book lauded a pantheon of white male homesteaders and industrialists. The first used ingenuity to survive the “primeval forests” of Dade County, while the second used their capital and ambition to establish the premier cultural institutions of urban Miami. The “rapid growth” of urban Miami’s “good things” was seen as indicative of “the class of people that came here in the early days.” The local churches, public schools, civic organizations and clubs, bar association, medical profession, banks, press, and the roads and bridges were just a few of the specific developments that received special treatment in Blackman’s early work.

Blackman’s work is a veritable parade of proper nouns, one extraordinary American settler and his contribution after another. Sometimes these settlers are listed out with their town of origin, date of migration, and occupation. Blackman even dedicated his book to the railroad tycoon whose “magic” had “transformed” the “wilderness into a modern, populous country.”  He quoted the developer’s “prophetic words” approvingly: “the opening up of the wilderness will not, I am sure, be effaced with time, but rather will grow in value as the years go by and as the people come in and ‘possess the land.’” Finally, Blackman directly mentioned race only when he had strong words for nonwhite groups whose existence seemed to threaten this idea of civilization. The Seminoles, for example, were “hostile red men” and a “menace to the peaceful development of the country.”[5]

From roughly the 1920s to the 1950s, Miami was living in a period of time where its formal histories were written as booster propaganda by the city’s leaders or those allies willing to support their cause of progressive urban development. The sociologist Anthony Maingot borrows the term “open city” from historian Daniel Boorstein to characterize Miami during these early decades. As he describes, an “open city” refers to a town built on undeveloped frontier land, rather than overtop the layout of a previous settlement. Open cities lack “monuments from the past or walls to defend, [and so] they [are] prone to be overwhelmed by their imaginary present greatness and their debt to the future.” While the land underneath open cities has a long history, migrants do not feel burdened by this past because it lacks explicit markers or reminders. As Maingot quotes, these cities “measured themselves not by their ability to keep out invaders, but by their power to attract immigrants.”[6]

During its “open city” era, profiles of Miami were penned by civic leaders like E.G. Sewell, president of the Miami Chamber of Commerce; R.G. Danner, City of Miami Manager; and William Freeman Coolbaugh, advertiser for a New York lending agency, Montray Corporation. These histories encouraged Americans to move to or visit “THE MAGIC CITY BEAUTIFUL” by citing success stories. Some authors from this generation, like the zoologist Alpheus Hyatt Verrill, went so far as to publish rumors about common laborers who “unearthed [historic] treasure” in Miami’s soil. Others realized historical arguments were not essential to the project of development. “While everything in the past of Miami is something we can all glory in,” wrote Coolbaugh, “why should one write and think of the past when the present is so wonderful and the future so promising.” Even after a devastating speculation bust and a series of hurricanes from 1926 on was followed up by the Great Depression, writers of Miami’s history remained optimistic about the future. In 1936, Florida lawyer J. Kenneth Ballinger wrote, “we have achieved a new real estate movement that has not, of course, brought as much money, or quite so many people, or as much nervous prostration to the people of Florida as that other one did, but it is infinitely more satisfying.”[7]

Many writers contested aspects of promotional histories written by the civic, booster elite. This category includes formal mouthpieces of the black community, like the Miami Times and The Industrial Reporter, as well as those in organizations like the UNIA and Colored Board of Trade. Blacks like Garth Reeves and Kelsey Pharr critiqued the “hard racial climate in Miami” during the era of Jim Crow and called segregation both a “joke” and a “ruse.” During this era, there was also a growing cast of white homesteaders who wrote memoirs about Miami’s early days. These include Ralph M. Munroe, Isidor Cohen, Charles W. Pierce, and Fannie Clemons. These writers critiqued individual aspects of the progressive narrative. For example, Cohen was a local businessman who lambasted the “menace” of a “public utility monopoly possessing political power.” Munroe was a yacht designer who attacked the city’s environmental degradation and its founding on the dispossession of the Seminole tribe. Author Tracy Hollingsworth even countered the shallow interpretation of Miami history that began with the American, frontier era. In her History of Dade County, Florida, she went all the way back to sixteenth-century French and Spanish colonization in order to contextualize Miami in the 1930s. Nonetheless, all of these specific critiques from diverse writers were tempered by a common, underlying investment in the fruits of urban development. These writers were, first and foremost, city reformers invested in what they saw as a more-perfect ideal of civilization. They did not want to undo the “progress” of urban Miami. For instance, while Pharr upbraided municipal leaders for city racism, he was also co-authoring tracts with leaders of the black business community to encourage migration. These tracts portrayed the “Colored Town Section of the City of Miami [as] a Thriving Community” with strong “Civic Pride.”[8]

This underlying consensus for Miami’s urban development can be observed in the relationship between Florida governor Napoleon B. Broward and quintessential Miami developer Henry Flagler. Broward was allied with reformist factions of the Democratic Party, and he sought to stop direct handouts of government land to private companies like railroads, banks, and real estate magnates. He did not, however, oppose the fundamental ideals of urban development. On the contrary, he relied upon a massive development scheme in order to counter private interest. Broward would “reclaim” wilderness land for the state through draining and canalizing the Everglades natural area. Here is an example of two very prominent figures, opposed in their political interests yet united in their assumptions about the promise and inevitability of Miami’s urban development. [9]

Modern historians like Rose and Connolly have contextualized Miami as a “tourist city” in order to explain the seeming contradictions of activists like Pharr. Indeed, as the historian Raymond Mohl states, by 1913, Miami “was a thriving town of 11,000 permanent residents and about 125,000 annual tourists.” As these numbers demonstrate, seasonal visitors had already outpaced permanent residents by a rate of one-to-twelve by Miami’s second decade. Here scholars can blend the generally antithetical concepts of the “consumer” and “producer” city, arguing that Miami was built upon the idea of consuming a national demand for vacationing by producing a physical and cultural infrastructure that could do so. Following this logic, writers of Miami’s “white press” and “civic booster elite” depended upon suppressing racism in the media as much as they depended upon emphasizing traits like optimism, capitalism, and individual success. “South Florida’s exotic labels,” Connolly writes, “served to conceal the brutality and racism often required to create and preserve one of the nation’s most celebrated tourist destinations.” To conclude, most of the voices that contested Miami’s earliest histories dissented because they wanted to be included in the boons of the “tourist city,” not because they wanted to completely reshape its identity.[10]

This first age of Miami historiography culminated in the journalist Helen Muir’s 1953 work Miami U.S.A. This was the first comprehensive metropolitan history, covering the region from its pioneer age to 1952. The title of the work encapsulated the central idea that Miami was a hometown U.S.A., a fractal of everything considered stereotypically “American” in the postwar, nuclear age. Muir declared that Miami had “the lure of a tropical country, but it was strictly American with all the good and bad ingredients that America can produce.” Like Blackman’s earlier work, the book amounted to an all-American catalog of white settlers who had moved south to become millionaires, as well as the quirky yet rational “frontier” culture they created. Muir sometimes mentioned race, but she never hinted at racial antagonism. For Miami’s period of “lynch law,” as it is now characterized by historians like Connolly, Muir offered only this misleading and vague statement: “The Klu Klux Klan offered to ‘police’ Miami but its services were refused.” [11]

Readers of Miami U.S.A. experience history mostly as a constellation of dreamers: William Brickell, Henry Flagler, George Merrick, Charles Deering, Carl Fisher, Glenn Curtiss, and on and on. A description of one female homesteader-turned-developer adequately captures Muir’s mix of romance, individualism, and progressive optimism. Julia Tuttle’s “determined and full-blossomed dream of bringing the railroad to Miami made the city, lifting it up from the wilderness, making two eras, separate and distinct, divided as if by magic.” In this quote, Muir referenced two eras divided by the coming of the railroad in 1896—a frontier era and an industrial era. Nonetheless, her statement presaged a different bifurcation of Miami’s history that was just about to appear on the horizon. In less than a decade’s time, Miami would indeed be thought of in terms of two very distinct periods, one that existed before the arrival of “new immigrants” and one that began after.[12]

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 completely remade the urban history of Miami. When Fidel Castro’s government took power over that island and passed a series of socialistic agrarian reform laws, hundreds of thousands of Cuban businessmen and professionals became exiles, migrating 90 miles across the Gulf Stream to Miami. These Cuban migrations continued in two waves over the next twenty years, encouraged by America’s adversarial Cold War posturing and more liberal immigration policy. In 1980, the city was transformed once again, as Castro permitted 125,000 lower-class Cuban refugees known as the marielitos to join their ethnic relatives in Miami. These numbers were augmented by successive waves of other Caribbean and Latin migrants, spurned onward by hardships in their home countries. Tens of thousands of Haitians, and thousands of Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, and Columbians joined the new immigrant ranks of Miami. Some basic statistics can capture the extent of this transformation. Before the 1960s, Miami’s “Hispanic” population was less than one percent. By the early 2000s, the city boasted the highest proportion of foreign-born residents in the country, the most residents who spoke a language other than English in the household, and the highest overall percentage of “Hispanic” residents outside a few select cities in Southern California and Texas. This “Latinization” drastically re-shaped race relations in Miami. Anglo residents began to flee the metropolitan area, and competition for work and antagonism increased between racial and ethnic groups, particularly blacks and Latinos.[13]

At first, few writers seemed up for the challenge of reconceptualizing Miami’s past to meet its new present. Instead, historians reacted to the major demographic change by trying to preserve the city’s pre-1960 history. The titles of Miami Herald reporter Nixon Smiley’s books testify to this longing. The works had reminiscent names like Memories of Old Miami and Yesterday’s Miami. They were a “nostalgic record of the past” in the face of “startling changes.” Others, like some written by the local Miami historians Thelma Peters and Arva Moore Parks, also looked backward to the frontier-era of Miami history for a renewed sense of comfort and identity. In this category was Lemon City: Pioneering on Biscayne Bay, 1850-1925, Miami 1909, and Biscayne Country, 1870-1926. In her book Forgotten Frontier, Parks described the “timeless” and “ageless” qualities of the Miami pioneer days. To be fair, the massive demographic changes going on since 1959 were perhaps still a bit too recent to have been considered history. Regardless, when this generation did tackle the question of Miami’s modern era in the 1960s and 1970s, they did so with mixed attitudes of insecurity, nostalgia, and near-apology. In 1981, Parks published the first “comprehensive history of Miami” since Muir’s 1953 work. In her preface, she felt compelled to express a hopeful belief in Miami’s continuity and perseverance alongside an acknowledgement of its poor, national image and the immense changes that had taken place over the past decades. [14]

There were many reasons why native Miami historians wanted a return to the pre-1960 era.  In 1980, racial antagonism reached a fever pitch with the McDuffie Riots and arrival of so-called Haitian “boat people” and marielitos. Drug, gangs, and corruption thrived in vulnerable immigrant neighborhoods. Narcotics smuggling was rampant; the city boasted the highest murder rate of the nation. To both outsiders and longtime residents, Miami appeared to be convulsed in a spasm of instability. It seemed only fitting that four of the five men who broke in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington during the Watergate scandal of 1973 were Cubans from Miami. This attitude of anxiety and fear was summarized in a November 23, 1981 issue of Time magazine. The cover story about Miami was provocatively called “Paradise Lost?” Its purple prose eulogized “America’s favorite winter playground” as something from a bygone era. Miami “was a region in trouble. An epidemic of violent crime, a plague of illicit drugs, and a tidal wave of refugees have slammed into South Florida with the destructive power of a hurricane.” Rose adds, “Miami became the only U.S. city that experienced four major black riots in the 1980s.”[15]

As Mohl notes, Miami had strong traditions of corruption stemming back to its early years. “In the 1920s,” he clarifies, “prohibition had created new opportunities for rum runners from Cuba and the Bahamas.” From there, racketeering, gambling, and organized crime became “integral aspects of the burgeoning Miami tourist industry.” Regardless, Miami continued to be a “glitzy resort capital” to most white Americans, who saw the metropolis from a distance and only through the gaze of privileged tourists. The significance of the upheavals in the 1980s was that city corruption had surfaced and could no longer be ignored. Prominent civic officials like the Miami City Manager Donald Warshaw and the Superintendent of Public Schools Johnny L. Jones were being indicted on charges of everything from embezzlement to laundering, bribery, drug-use, prostitution and fraud. Moreover, instability was increasingly tied to racial and linguistic differences.[16]

A cast of white journalists and novelists like Joan Didion, Paul Eddy, T.D. Allman, and David Reiff were drawn to the national reputation of Miami during this tumultuous decade. They began publishing exposé-style, adventure-works that capitalized on the moment. These works offered “New Miami” in a mosaic of impressions, each couched in an attitude of exotic glamor, naïve discovery, and heightened meaning. Whether portraying Miami as a “City of the Future” or a decadent “chimera of runaway money,” authors sensationalized the metropolis to national readership in publications like The New Yorker, Newsweek, Vanity-Fair, and Esquire. They took readers beyond the veil of the “savage nature of the increased violence” in 1980s Miami. They were like an updated version of the Progressive Era muckraker—people like Jacob Riis, whose photos showed privileged viewers How The Other Half Lives in the impoverished immigrant neighborhoods of New York.  In Rieff’s work, readers went on a “short, personal odyssey” into the alleged psychology of Miami. They explored the city’s “reality” and “dirty truth” of resentful whites, conservative Cubans, and struggling blacks, all with Rieff serving as their cultural translator or literary tour guide. His work capitalized on the defining of otherness. For example, he explained the men’s guayabera shirt: “unlike Anglos, Cuban men don’t seem to mind letting their paunches show.”[17]

The works of American journalists in the early 1980s were a far cry from the early histories. These writers interpreted Miami as an exceptional and precarious outlier to a mainstream American landscape—not a quintessential fractal of it, as Muir had done back in the 1950s. The multiracial city was now presented as morally dangerous, mysteriously odd, infinitely exciting, and yet still somehow promising. Notions of progress were colored in reflective and ominous tones, almost like an extreme counterbalance to the city’s origins in progress, optimism and romanticism. Didion writes of “construction cranes” that “hovered on the famous new skyline, which, floating as it did between a mangrove swamp and a barrier reef, had a kind of perilous attraction, like a mirage.” Overall, in this era of Miami spectacles like Miami Vice and Scarface, the analytical stakes of the city’s landscape were hyperbolically overblown. “Every major national transformation the United States is undergoing…has converged in Miami,” Allman wrote. “How Miami solves or fails to solve those problems cannot but provide clues to how the whole country will cope with the massive changes—full of both peril and opportunity—that are transforming the lives of us all.” To be fair, a lot of these authors were trying to justify and sell their “New Journalism” studies of Miami to a national readership who had little interest in the history of Miami for its own sake.[18]

But another sea-change was already underway by the early-1980s. A generation of scholars with academic backgrounds in fields like Urban Sociology, Psychology, Migration History, and Anthropology set to work altering the direction of Miami’s historiography. These academics read the more-personal narratives of “Literary figures” from the Miami Vice genre and they concluded that the city deserved a more “serious study.” This generation included the likes of Yohel Camayd-Freixas, Marvin Dunn, Raymond Mohl, Alex Stepick, Guillermo Grenier, and Alejandro Portes, among others. Instead of trying to praise or promote Miami, recover its “forgotten” prewar stories, or showcase its sordid intimacies for a national audience, these trained social scientists looked to study the city’s existing populations. Rather than compile the culture of “New Miami” in a series of casual snapshots, they set out to do so by conducting more systematic analyses.

While the objective of this new wave of academics was essentially the same as their journalistic contemporaries, their processes were completely different. They did, however, carry forward at least two specific qualities: an animating desire to investigate the multi-ethnic composition of Miami, and a firm belief in the elevated importance of their endeavor. Like Allman, these academics studied “the Miami experiment” because they believed it was a looking glass into precious truths about America’s imminent future. “The passions that [Miami] awoke,” Portes and Stepick write, “and the social energies that it released may carry significant lessons as America becomes again, under the influence of growing immigration, a multiethnic society.” Similarly, in their joint study of the 1980 McDuffie Riots, Marvin Dunn and Porter Bruce closed by introducing larger questions. “Did the criminal justice system fail?” they asked. And “are there lessons to be learned which can be applied to other communities in the United States?”[19]

By the early 1980s, Miami had once again come to be seen as a representative place. The city was not representative as a fractal of what America was in its greater essence, but rather as a fractal of what it might become in the near future. The recent turmoil cast Miami as precarious—an “Ethnic Cauldron,” as Mohl labeled, or a “City on the Edge,” as another groundbreaking study of ethnic tensions portrayed the atmosphere. While this latter designation by Portes and Stepick was “neither ominous nor celebratory,” it was nonetheless intended to capture “the obvious tension in the unprecedented events experienced by” Miami. The city was a hyper fragile place, depicted as teetering on “the edge of a future marked by uncertainty…[and] the promise of pathbreaking innovation in urban life.” Unlike the reminiscent historians of the 1960s and 1970s, these academics were eager to engage the question of contemporary Miami. In doing so, they crossed the optimism of the early historians with the apocalyptic potential of the Miami Vice era.[20]

These new studies of Miami wanted to chronicle the ongoing demographic transformation of the city since 1960. To do so, they blended quantitative and qualitative research methods. Book-length sociological works like City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami and This Land is Our Land: Immigrants and Power in Miami, as well as chapter contributions in edited compilations like Sunbelt Cities and Searching for the Sunbelt, combined newer research methods to better understand how different racial populations in Miami assimilated since their arrival in South Florida, especially how they co-existed with one another. These methods included collecting “big data” from census records, government reports, content analyses, surveys, and personal interviews. The innovation of these techniques is exemplified by the 1988 work of the Cuban exile Yohel Camayd-Freixas, who traced native reactions to new migration by conducting “a systematic content analysis of stories about Mariel printed in the Miami Herald during the first fourteen weeks of the crisis.” In order to analyze local discourse concerning the arrival of the marielitos, Camayd-Freixas sorted through the day-to-day articles of the paper. He defined stories as either “positive” or “negative” based on signifiers in their language, and then overlaid the separate trends on a single line graph.[21]

Social scientists like Camayd-Freixas harmonized numbers from data sets with anecdotes from field interviews. They juxtaposed quotations from anonymous whites, blacks, Jews, Haitians, and Latin and Caribbean immigrants of diverse persuasions with tables, figures, and graphs of aggregated information. For instance, Mohl began one of his essays by addressing the general context of national immigration in the postwar age. He followed up with specific immigration statistics for Miami. A series of five tables set Miami’s numbers in relation to other snowbelt and sunbelt cities of the same period. Readers are presented with stats for “black,” “foreign-born,” and “Hispanic” entrants to Miami for every decade from 1930 to 1980, alongside controlled variables such as what percentage stayed in Miami and what percentage moved. A few excerpts from Mohl’s essay will go a long way toward exhibiting the quantifiable nature of these studies. Mohl writes:

By 1920…5,000 Bahamians made up 52 percent of the city’s entire black population. Between 1940 and 1980 the percentage of blacks in the total metropolitan area declined only marginally, from 18.5 percent in 1940 to 17.2 percent in 1980. Hispanics were historically less numerous, in 1950 totally about 20,000, or 4 percent of the metropolitan population; most were Puerto Rican and there was only a small Cuban community.[22]

And here is a similar quote from only a few pages later:

In 1980 the Hispanic population exceeded 50 percent in 66 of metropolitan Miami’s 237 census tracts. Hialeah…with almost 150,000 people in 1980, was more than 80 percent Hispanic by mid-decade. Sweetwater, a small municipality west of Miami, was well over 80 percent Hispanic by 1985, although not all these were Cubans.[23]

Finally, here is a third example from another source in this genre:

Second the Caribbean Basin’s share of total immigration to the United States has been increasing, from 19.3 percent between 1951 and 1960 to 35.5 percent between 1971 and 1980 and 30.6 percent between 1981 and 1985 (see table 2.1). From 1971 to 1980, Caribbean Basin immigrants represented 86.6 percent of all immigrants from Latin America.[24]

This quantifiable demographic data was often paired with ahistorical quotes by nameless, ostensibly representative figures. Here is one from a “Black owner of a major business:”

There is also a growing number of Cuban-owned businesses in black neighborhoods but they don’t hire Blacks. For example, I was in a drug-store a couple of weeks ago and there was a black Cuban lady at one of the cash registers. I went to her and she didn’t even want to talk to me. I thought to myself, ‘Talk to me, if I’m going to leave my money here, you ought to learn how to speak English.’[25]

And another from a “white American executive:”

There is no impediment for any Hispanic to be involved in anything they desire in Miami. There are no barriers. With intelligence and money, anything can be achieved. But thousands don’t want to get involved further than their activities in the Latin Chamber of Commerce. I just found out that Miami ranks thirty-seventh out of fifty in United Way contributions, and this is because a majority of citizens, Hispanics, don’t care to give.[26]

If the early histories of Miami were characterized by the ignoring of racial differences and inflated stories of romantic individualism and optimism, then these new historical and sociological profiles were quite the opposite. In the works of social scientists from the 1980s to the early 2000s, readers encountered new historiographical trends: a taxonomic-like provincialism of ethnicities, an underlying motif of uncertainty, and a methodological preference for judging representativeness through an interaction between numbers and extrapolations from well-chosen interviews. In their desire to understand “the adaptation of foreign-born minorities to their environment,” scholars facilitated a “systematic canvassing” of leaders from all major ethnicities. Authors from this historiographical period operated with the driving assumption that Miami’s multiculturalism needed to be dissected before a comprehensive urban narrative could be written. Each respective ethnic group needed to be isolated, defined in numbers, and then questioned in a search for generic takeaways. For the most part, this generation of writers was careful to maintain a sense of psychological distance between themselves and their resident subjects. In one of his sections about “The Haitians,” Mohl wrote, “Relatively little is known about this new ethnic group in Miami.” In another work, Stepick and Portes stated, “It is as if the parallel social structures and definitions that were created by the arrival of the Cubans simultaneously pushed blacks into double subordination.”[27]

By the late-1980s, historians began using the phrase “new immigrant city” to define Miami’s modern multiculturalism. This evocative label was intended to contrast the “new” immigrant cities of postwar America with “old” immigrant cities of the early twentieth-century, particularly East Coast and Midwestern immigrant strongholds like New York, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago. These select cities had boasted foreign-born populations greater than eighty percent around 1900. During the so-called Gilded and Progressive eras (1880-1920), around 27 million immigrants had entered the United States through select receiving ports at Ellis and Angel Island. This era became an historic age of immigration in the collective, national consciousness; the title “new immigrant city” was designed to place modern Miami in direct reference to this legacy. In doing so, it foregrounded the central question, “Would ‘new immigrants’ to Miami follow the same or a similar path toward assimilation as ‘old immigrants’ had in the early twentieth century.”[28]

Mohl described the above connection explicitly in a chapter of Making of Urban America. Writing in 1997, he observed that “thirty years of new immigration have begun to transform the demographic, economic, and cultural landscape of some American states and cities.” The result was that “New York, Los Angeles, and Miami have emerged as new immigrant cities rivaling the big immigrant centers of the turn-of-the-century industrial era.” Miami was by far the smallest city on this short list, yet it led the pack in terms of per-capita migrants with a “staggering 70 percent.” Furthermore, as Portes and Stepick argued, studies of “new immigrant cities” had the potential to recapture the lost history of their “old” and presumed counterparts. “Bilingual and bicultural cities have of course existed in the history of the nation,” they acknowledge. “But the passage of time and the growing hegemony of American culture diluted these experiences.” In this sense, Miami’s postwar culture shouldered an immense burden. It was seen as capable of not only informing scholars about itself, but also of telling them about the future and the past of American history. [29]

But it should also be noted that those who studied post-1960 immigration to Miami for its representativeness could also find plenty of evidence for its uniqueness. The sociologist Anthony Maingot has listed some of the main reasons that “new immigration” to Miami was unique. First, many of the “new immigrants” from Caribbean countries like Cuba and Haiti came as exiles and refugees rather than as voluntary migrants. Moreover, they did not often arrive in the United States via official channels but came through informal means, either by their own efforts or with the help of existing migrant communities. This fact created a context of virtually uncontrolled in-migration. Third, many Cuban exiles benefited from government assistance during the Cold War period, and they advocated a political attitude that was generally Republican and anti-communist. Finally, historians could add to Maingot’s list of reasons the ways in which race made the post-1960 migrants unique from their supposed, “old” immigrant counterparts. In this sense, the “old” immigrants of the Gilded and Progressive eras were generally of European heritage and their lighter skin tones helped them to assimilate into a category of whiteness once they dropped other markers of cultural difference. While many of the Miami “new immigrants” were white—especially those sometimes known as batistianos, who came before 1980—many were not, and there was no guaranteeing that they would be brought-in to the category of whiteness if they dropped other cultural markers.[30]

Overall, the label of “new immigrant city” lent a comparative vocabulary to Miami historiography while simultaneously shifting its emphasis. Scholars now used Miami as a specific case study in order to ask basic questions about the essentialist nature of American assimilation, adaptation, or acculturation. As previously mentioned, the “old immigrant cities” were largely based upon white migrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, and the concept that eventually came to summarize their gradual assimilation process was that of the “melting pot,” posed by the French-American writer Michel Guillaume Jean de Crèvecœur as early as 1782. In contrast, postwar migrants were mostly people of color who had emigrated from nations that were dubbed “Third World” in the discourse of the Cold War. These migrants formed tightly-knit ethnic enclaves in cities like Miami. In doing so, their existence threw into question traditional sociological models. Scholars began to wonder if the case of Miami proved the old idea of the American “melting pot” was outdated, and if “new immigrant” cities would be more like collections of envlaves.[31]

“In the 1940s and 1950s,” write Stepick and Portes, “it seemed reasonable to assume that all ‘ethnics’ wished to and would follow the path of assimilation.” However, in the 1960s, “new immigrant” groups like the Miami Cubans began forming resilient and concentrated pockets that resisted cultural assimilation.  In this context, writers began discussing “unmeltable ethnics.” Some entirely abandoned the seemingly outdated theories of “inevitable assimilation” or adaptation, and opted instead for articulating a process of often abrasive and unpredictable, ethnic interaction in a “social mosaic.” In general, this notion of the “unmeltable new immigrant” in Miami was epitomized by the words of Jorge Mas Canosa, founder of the Cuban National American Foundation. During a 1992 interview with the Miami Herald, Canosa had said, “I have never assimilated. I never intend to. I am Cuban first. I live here only as an extension of Cuba.”[32]

What emerged from the scholarship of the 1980s and 1990s was a series of new characterizations of Miami. The city was nicknamed the “capital of Latin America, “gateway to Latin America,” and a “new immigrant city.” For their own part, Cuban exiles encouraged this interpretation.  Since the early years of their migration, exiles interpreted Miami’s history through their own mechanisms. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of them dated the beginning of the city’s modern history to their arrival within its borders. Newspapers like El Nuevo Herald and radio and television shows like TV Martí misrepresented pre-1960 Miami as a quiet, insignificant frontier settlement despite the fact that the county had already passed one million full-time residents. This sentiment is even repeated in the history and corresponding documentary by Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire.[33] This recalibration of Miami history is also epitomized by the quote of exile leader Luis J. Botifoll:

In order to appreciate the Cubans’ contribution to Miami’s development, it is convenient to go back to what the city was in 1959. Miami could be defined as a typical Southern town with a population of veterans and retirees. The sole activity was the exploitation of tourism in the sunny winters. Commercial activities were limited and industrial development incipient…It was an underdeveloped area within the American economy, without any great perspective.[34]

As this quote demonstrates, some Cuban exile leaders credited themselves with jumpstarting the modern development of Miami into an industrial metropolis. Meanwhile, as might be expected, they were often more interested in reproducing the culture of their home island than in uncovering the pre-1960 history of Miami. The scholar Maria Christina Garcia has captured this sentiment in the title of her study Havana USA, meant to describe Southern Florida in direct reference to Muir’s pre-1960 classic, Miami USA. Garcia demonstrated how exiles “attempted to recreate in South Florida the society they left behind.” This same idea of a second Havana planted in urban Miami has been expressed in other works, such as The Cuban Americans by Miguel González-Pando, who writes of Miami residents having a kind of “obsession” and “consuming nostalgia” for Cuba.[35]

Interestingly, many Cuban business leaders and their corresponding authors have articulated some of the very ideas of optimism, individualism, and exceptionalism that were such a staple of the city’s early booster histories. Instead of lauding the efforts of Anglo entrepreneurs and industrialists, Cubans immigrants are now depicted as the exceptional individuals who are carving something out of nothing. They are the protagonists in the new success story. In this sense, communities are interpreted not only as “unmeltable,” but as quintessential to Miami’s identity—responsible for turning the city around. Maingot discusses this idea though stereotypes articulated in the press, such as the notion of “Those Amazing Cubans” and a “Cuban Miracle,” as well as books like Greater Miami: Spirit of Cuban Enterprise, written in part by the exile Juan Silverio.[36]

Sociologists like Stepick as Portes have also added to a discussion of Havana USA. “Every year, new parts of Miami become more like Havana, or at least like the nostalgic image that Cubans have of their capital city.” Native white journalists like Howard Kleinberg often lamented these changes, decrying that streets in the “Latin quarter” were becoming named for “Latin American militarists and romantics who never had been to Miami and whose names barely made it into any encyclopedia.” In this way, Cuban exiles were engaging in a similar kind of hero-worship that the early civic boosters had done, only their “great men” were not placed on top of an “open city” but on an already developed tourist center. Instead of white industrialists like Henry Flagler and Carl Fisher, readers were hearing about pre-Castro Latino developers and Latino exile leaders like Jose Manuel Aleman, Ernesto Freyre, Jorge Mas Canosa, and Maurice A. Ferré. Historic Latino figures were enshrined on the names of streets, schools, newspapers, statues, and more. [37]

There is one additional influence to Miami’s historiography that is worth mentioning here. During the 1990s, the sociological studies of Miami’s various ethnic communities overlapped with a new wave of novels. Unlike the literary exposes of the Miami Vice era, these works were written by non-white, foreign-born, and bilingual authors who were attuned to postcolonial trends. Among them was the Cuban-born author Cristina García and the Haitian-born author Edwidge Danticat. Rather than sensationalize Miami for a national readership or dissect its demographic composition from an intellectual distance, these authors used fiction as a tool to dig into the complex psychology of the “new immigrants” themselves. Although many of their works were not based in Miami, the authors articulated emotional relationships that immigrants undoubtedly had with the city. In Dreaming in Cuban, García writes about the dominating paradox between Miami’s physical closeness to, and emotional distance from, Cuba. It “is a particular exile, I think, an island colony. We can reach it by a thirty-minute charter flight from Miami, yet never reach it at all.” [38] Similarly, in Krik? Krak!, Danticat explores the feelings of expectation in crossing over imaginary boundaries:

I used to read a lot about America…I am trying to think, to see if I read anything more about Miami. It is sunny. It doesn’t snow there like it does in other parts of America. I can’t tell exactly how far we are from there…There are no borderlines on the sea. [39]

By the early 2000s, extraordinary work had been done on the different immigrant communities of Miami. Researchers could turn to any number of works for reliable data about the size of respective communities, as well as representative quotes from people who identified as belonging with them. Now, they also could read fiction to explore more intimate details left out of formal interviews.

In short, Narratives of exile and refugee communities in Miami could be written by 2000, composed from the decades after 1960. An important work in this category is In the Land of Mirrors by María de Los Angeles Torres. Like her novelist contemporaries, Torres was a new immigrant living in America. She came to the US in the 1960s as one of 14,000 unaccompanied minors in “Operation Pedro Pan.” Her book was among the first comprehensive, interpretive narratives of an ethnic community to successfully blend sociological and historical techniques. She based her study on both quantifiable and qualitative data. She “systematically interviewed key political actors in the exile community,” and she included tables on variables ranging from migration statistics to campaign contributions. Meanwhile, she infused her story with the personal, intimate, and romantic tones of Miami’s earliest histories as well as contemporary novels by Danticat and García. She captured the psychological distance that stood between South Florida and Cuba. “Today,” she wrote, “these are the longest ninety miles in the world, but they are still only ninety miles.” Finally, Torres kept the historical stakes for the Miami exile community high. “No matter how hard governments may try,” she wrote, “they cannot legislate identities; they cannot erase our history.”[40]

At the turn of the twenty-first century, post-1960 histories of the Cuban exile community by Maria Christina Garcia and María de Los Angeles Torres demonstrated the success of the sociological studies. Roughly two decades of gathering data culminated in the first cohesive exile narratives. But, amidst all of this focus on existing populations in Miami, a new question now loomed: Was Miami’s pre-1960 past still relevant to its present? This is the subject that led Shell-Weiss to challenge the paradigm of the “new immigrant city” in FHQ in 2005. She was not alone in using the early Bahamian presence to push back against the dominating paradigm of the “new immigrant city.” Perhaps ironically, Mohl had been using early Caribbean migration to qualify that paradigm at the same time he was integral in creating it. In 1987, Mohl began a piece on Bahamian migration by writing, “Miami is generally thought of as a new immigrant city…the fact is, however, that Miami has always had a magnetic attraction for peoples of the Caribbean.” But Shell-Weiss had different intentions than Mohl. She did not want to write an article that analyzed Bahamian migration in isolation. She wanted to write a comprehensive story of immigrant Miami that could bridge its great divide. At the same time, she wanted to further the noble tradition of her predecessors in the social sciences—to use Miami to “provide a unique window into America’s ethnic past.”[41]

Shell-Weiss’ project was shaped by the unique inheritance of her historiographical period. Likewise, Lichtenstein’s rejoinder was also informed by the specific moment in which he was writing. While Lichtenstein agreed that “we should rethink the history of Miami by drawing on models from immigration theory,” he did not find Shell-Weiss’ “current model for taking up this task entirely persuasive.” Like many others, he could not help but see the “old” Bahamian legacy in light of the “newer” Latino/a immigrants, a group which had transformed the city in profound and undeniable ways. Perhaps this is why he chose to interpret immigration by invoking the authority of statistical data. “First, let’s do the numbers,” he began. He then proceeded to compare ratios of native and foreign-born Blacks pre-1960 with that of Caribbean immigrants post-1960, suggesting these groups were in competition for a single spot in the city’s history, and their numbers had a direct correlation to their historical relevance. “Between 1900 and 1950,” he concluded, “the percentage of foreign-born residents in Dade County never exceeded 20 percent.” [42]

Lichtenstein was right about the numbers. Miami’s foreign-born population before 1960 was nothing when compared to that of “old immigrant cities” like Milwaukee, New York, or Chicago. Nonetheless, his critique may have missed the point. Shell-Weiss was not trying to divide; she was trying to unite. Unlike the works of Helen Muir and María de Los Angeles Torres, which either ended or began in the 1950s, Shell-Weiss was attempting to conceive a new social history that could bring both epochs of Miami’s past into one narrative. She wanted a produce a work capable of reconciling the disparate worlds of Miami USA and Havana USA, that could shift “the framework of study to span the full twentieth century.” To borrow a phrase from Torres, she wanted to see if she could “hold both sides together.” And in order to do so, she would have to leave behind the concept of the “new immigrant city,” so integral in previous decades, but now constricting. She would have to conceptualize Miami in a completely different way—a way that paid proper respect to how much “new immigrants” fundamentally transformed the urban landscape since 1959, yet did not effectively silence the histories of the “old immigrants” who had come before. These were not only Bahamians and Anglos, but also Puerto Ricans who came in the Operation Bootstrap-era of the 1940s. In the decade since her FHQ article, an emerging cast of historians—from Rose to Connolly to Maingot—have been working on new ways to meet this challenge, to write narratives that can take readers of Miami history across the city’s great historiographical divide.[43]


Provenance: This essay was originally written for a course that I took in the Fall of 2015. It was called “HIS 204: Historiography,” and it was taught by professor Baki Tezcan.

[1] Melanie Shell-Weiss, “Coming North to the South: Migration, Labor and City-Building in Twentieth-Century Miami,” The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 1, Special H-Florida Issue: Florida History from Transnational Perspectives (Summer, 2005), 80; Alex Lichtenstein, “Commentaries,” The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 1 (Summer, 2005): 114, 120. This special issue of FHQ was dedicated to H-Florida, a sub-list of the online scholarly organization H-Net.

[2] Ibid. 115, 119.

[3] For an overview of Miami’s first hundred years, see Paul George, “Miami: The First Hundred Years,” South Florida History, 24, 2, “Special Miami Centennial Issue,” (Summer, 1996): 22-36. For statistics on West Indies migration to Miami during the early years, see Raymond A. Mohl, “Black Immigrants: Bahamians in Early Twentieth-Century Miami,” The Florida Historical Quarterly 65, 3 (1987).

[4] Chanelle N. Rose, The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami: Civil Rights and America’s Tourist Paradise, 1896-1968 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2015), 26. N.D.B. Connolly, A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 38.

[5] Unknown, The Florida East Coast Homeseeker, Vol. 10 (January, 1908), 85. The Record Company of St. Augustine, FL, published this journal between 1899 and 1914; E.V. Blackman, Miami and Dade County, Florida; its Settlement, Progress and Achievement (Washington D.C.: V. Rainbolt, 1921), preface, 190, 21-22, 32, 37, 122, 51, 16-17.

[6] Anthony P. Maingot, Miami: A Cultural History (Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2015), 1. See Daniel J. Boorstein, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (New York: Random House, 1973); Ted Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 75. Here Steinberg uses “new consumer economy” to describe the material contexts that make it possible for “open cities” like Miami to survive on the frontier.

[7] E.G. Sewell told his version of Miami history in news pieces. For an example, see The Miami Daily News, April 13, 1933; R.G. Danner, Metropolitan Miami, Florida: 50 years of progress: Reviewing the Past, Forecasting the Future (Miami: City of Miami, 1946); Alpheus Hyatt Verill, They Found Gold: The Story of Successful Treasure Hunts (Albuquerque, NM: Rio Grand Pr. Inc., 1989), 181, 265-266. This work was originally published in 1936. Another article from 1936 appeared in Fortune magazine. Called “Paradise Regained,” it declared that “today Miami is one of the most fantastic cities of the Western Hemisphere.” Fortune, 13 (January, 1936), 35; William Coolbaugh Freeman and Earl Royce Dumont, Miami (New York: Bower-Mackey and the Montray Coporation, 1921), introductory; “Miami and Montray: Names That Are United To Bring Happiness and Prosperity To Many People,” New York Tribune, Friday, June 3, 1921. This article was the third installment of an ongoing series that Coolbaugh printed in the Tribune; John Kenneth Ballinger, Miami Millions: the dance of the dollars in the great Florida land boom of 1925 (Miami: The Franklin Press, Inc., 1936), 156.

[8] Rose, The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami, 29, 72, 26. Isidor Cohen. Historical Sketches and Sidelights of Miami, Florida (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1925), 25; Ralph Middleton Munroe and Vincent Gilpin, The Commodore’s Story: The Early Days on Biscayne Bay (Miami: The Historical Association of Southern Florida, 1985). Originally published by Ives Washburn of New York in 1930. Tracy Hollingsworth, History of Dade County, Florida (Miami: self-published), 1936. For another example of a famous history that criticized the environmental degradation of the Miami area, see Marjory Stoneman Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass (New York: Rinehart & Company, 1947). In thinking about the greater consensus of writers who contributed to Miami historiography, we can draw upon the ideas of Richard Hofstadter, who said that “major political traditions have shared a belief in the rights of property, the philosophy of economic individualism, the value of competition; they have accepted the economic virtues of capitalist culture as necessary qualities of man.” In The American Political Tradition: And the Men Who Made It (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1948), xxxvi-xxxvii.

[9] Maingot, Miami: A Cultural History, 43. For more on the history of Everglades land reclamation see Michael Grunwald, The Swamp (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007).

[10] Rose, The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami, 15; Connolly A World More Concrete, 5, 26; Raymond A. Mohl, “Shadows in the Sunshine: Race and Ethnicity in Miami,” Tequesta 49 (1989): 63. For more on the “consumer” and “producer” city, see Neville Morley, Theories, Models, and Concepts in Ancient History (New York: Routledge, 2004).

[11] Helen Muir, Miami U.S.A. (Miami: Henry Holt & Company, 1953), 153, 3. Connolly, A World More Concrete, 5, 136. Muir also assured her readers that Miami “is definitely a member of the Union.”

[12] Muir, Miami U.S.A., 3.

[13] For an overview of Miami’s history during these changes, see Maingot, Miami: A Culture History.  Raymond Mohl states that 600,000 Cuban exiles came to Miami between 1959 and 1973, with about 248,070 coming to the US in the first wave from 1959 to 1962. They were joined by roughly 50,000 Haitians arriving in the1980s, 15,000 coming in 1980 alone. Mohl, “Shadows in the Sunshine,” 65. The liberal immigration policy passed by the US Congress refers to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. This legislation largely overturned repressive immigration policies passed in 1921 and 1924. For an overview of the three separate waves of Cuban migration, see Maria Cristina Garcia, Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994 (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1996). By 1985, there was a total of 750,000 Cubans in Miami. By the 1990s, they represented 50% of the greater Dade county population.

[14] Nixon Smiley and Hoyt Frazure, Memories of Old Miami (Miami: The Miami Herald, 1964), 24; Smiley, Yesterday’s Miami (Miami, FL: E.A. Seemann Publishing, 1973), 162. Thelma Peters, Biscayne Country, 1870-1926. New York: Banyan Books, 1981; Peters, Miami 1909: With Excerpts from Fannie Clemons’ Diary (New York: Banyan Books, 1984); Peters, Lemon City: Pioneering on Biscayne Bay: 1850 – 1925 (Vancouver, CA: Banyan Books, 1976); Arva Moore Parks, The Forgotten Frontier: Florida through the Lens of Ralph Middleton Munroe (North Palm Beach, FL: Past-Perfect-Florida-History-Books.com, 1977), preface, 34, 2; it should be noted that Parks describes South Florida as “the nation’s forgotten frontier” in reference to frontiers of the American west not to Miami’s post-1960 history. Parks, Miami: The Magic City (Miami: Centennial Press, 1981), preface. Mohl describes the 1960s and 1970s as such, “In retrospect, the place was experiencing enormous social, economic, and cultural change during those years, although for the most part the political structure remained in old, familiar hands.” Mohl, “Shadows in the Sunshine,” 65.

[15] “Paradise Lost?” Time Magazine, November 23, 1981. Rose, The Struggle for Black Freedom in Miami, 18. For a few statistics on the Miami murder rate in the early 1980s, see Francisco Alvarado, “1981: Miami’s Deadliest Summer,” The Miami New Times, Wednesday, August 10, 2011. Collectively, these four black riots in the 1980s referred to by Rose are known as the Liberty City Riots.

[16] Mohl, “Shadows in the Sunshine,” 64-65.

[17] Joan Didion. Miami (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 19; Allman, T.D. Miami: City of the Future (New York: Little Brown & Company, 1987); Paul Eddy, Hugo Sabogal, and Sara Walden, The Cocaine Wars (New York: W.W. Norton, 1988); 72; Rieff, Going to Miami: Exiles, Tourists and Refugees in New America (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1987), 175, 50;  Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives (New York: Charles Scribner’s & Sons, 1890).

[18] Didion. Miami, 19; Allman, Miami: City of the Future, 278.

[19] Alejandro Portes and Alex Stepick, City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), xii, xiii.  Marvin Dunn and Porter Bruce, The Miami Riot of 1980: Crossing the Bounds (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1984), 198; Alex Stepick, Guillermo Grenier, Max Castro, and Marvin Dunn, This Land Is Our Land: Immigrants and Power in Miami (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); Raymond A. Mohl, “Miami: The Ethnic Cauldron.” In Sunbelt Cities: Politics and Growth Since World War II, edited by Richard M. Bernard and Bradley R. Rice, 58-99 (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1983); Mohl, “Immigration through the Port of Miami.” In Forgotten Doors: The Other Ports of Entry to the United States, edited by M. Mark Stolarik, 81-98 (Philadelphia: The Balch Institute Press, 1988); Mohl, “Miami: New Immigrant City.” In Searching for the Sunbelt: Historical Perspectives on a Region, edited by Raymond A. Mohl, 149-175 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1990).

[20] Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, xiv; Mohl, “Miami: The Ethnic Cauldron.” Throughout this period, nostalgia remained strong among some local writers of Miami’s history. Books like Howard Kleinberg’s Miami, The Way We Were (Tampa, FL: Surfside Publishing, 1989), exhibit this continuing trend.

[21] Yohel Camayd-Freixas, Crisis in Miami (Boston: Boston Urban Research and Development Group, 1988), 42.

[22] Mohl, “Miami: New Immigrant City,” 155.

[23] Ibid, 156.

[24] Anthony P. Maingot, “Immigration from the Caribbean Basin.” In Miami Now! Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Change, edited by Gullermo J. Grenier, 18-40, (Gainesville: The University of Florida Press, 1992), 21. Top of FormBottom of Form

[25] Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, 12.

[26] Stepick et al., This Land Is Our Land, 43.

[27] Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, xii, 16; Mohl, “Miami: New Immigrant City,” 165.

[28] Shell-Wiess, “Coming North to the South,” 80.

[29] Raymond A. Mohl, “Blacks and Hispanics in Multicultural America: A Miami Case Study.” In The Making of Urban America, edited by Raymond A. Mohl, 283-308, (New York: SR Books, 1997), 283; Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, xii.

[30] Maingot, Miami: A Cultural History, 101-102, 111-112.

[31] Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, 104. Michel Guillaume Jean de Crèvecœur, Letters from an American Farmer (London: Thomas Davies, 1782), 55.

[32] Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, 6; Stepick, et al., This Land Is Our Land, 11, 16. Stepick and Portes also depict Cuban Miami as “a moral community,” so encompassing in its identity that one cannot be a part of it without accepted a certain set of common, core values; Canosa’s statement is quoted in Tom Tancredo, “What I Meant by ‘Third World’ Miami,’ Human Events, 14 December 2006. Accessed 29 June 2016.

[33] Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America (New York: Penguin Books, 2000); Maurice A. Ferré, “Foreword,” in Maingot, Miami: A Cultural History, x.

[34] Luis J. Botifoll qtd. in Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, 148.

[35] Maria Cristina Garcia, Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994 (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1996), 173,174; Miguel González-Pando, Cuban Miami, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998), 98.

[36] Maingot, Miami: A Cultural History, 109.

[37] Garcia, Havana USA, 173; Howard Kleinberg qtd. in Portes and Stepick, City on the Edge, 220.

[38] Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), 219.

[39] Edwidge Danticat, Krik? Krak! (New York: Soho Press, 1995), 6.

[40] María de Los Angeles Torres, In the Land of Mirrors, xiv, 200.

[41] Mohl, “Black Immigrants,” 271; Shell-Weiss, Coming to Miami: A Social History (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009), 1.

[42] Lichtenstein, “Commentaries,” The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 1 (Summer, 2005): 114, 120.

[43] Shell-Weiss, “Coming North to the South,” 79-99; Shell-Weiss, “They All Came From Someplace Else: Miami, Florida’s Immigrant Communities, 1896-1970,” PhD dissertation, Michigan State University, 2002; Shell-Weiss, Coming to Miami, 1, 17.