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History

Historic Downtown Homestead

Visitors to Homestead/Florida City will find an area building on its rich history for a bright future.

Homestead’s active program of historic preservation keeps the past alive while preparing residents for the burgeoning industry, tourism and population growth to come.

Tropical South Florida is rich in history both documented and legendary.

Four thousand years ago Indians inhabited the southern tip of Florida. Pirates, smugglers, gunrunners and revolutionaries roamed area waters centuries ago.

The area south of Miami was opened to homesteaders in 1898. A path, known as the Homesteader’s trail, was the only route in and out until railroad magnate Henry Flagler extended his railway south to this area.

parachute

Later, he extended his railroad from Homestead to Key West, and the Overseas Railroad was completed in 1912. Homestead’s major source of income at that time was agriculture, with the harvest of winter vegetables and tropical fruits being shipped across the country. Due to its strategic location, the Homestead area prospered with the Florida real estate boom in the early 1920s.

In 1926, Mother Nature unleashed her fury with a major hurricane, destroying Flagler’s Overseas Railway. In 1945 another severe hurricane struck and demolished the World War II airfield at what is now Homestead Air Reserve Base. Then, almost 50 years later, Hurricane Andrew blew through deep South Miami-Dade, leaving a wave of destruction in its path. True to the pioneer spirit that created the area, the people of the Homestead/Florida City area picked up, rebuilt and restored.

The community has focused on preserving and renovating historic buildings, establishing new businesses and creating a historic business district replete with charming specialty shops and restaurants.

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The antique shops along Krome Avenue form a charming district and the area is a designated Main Street Community of Florida’s Bureau of Historic Preservation.

The Homestead/Florida City area’s population is increasing, as its ethnic composition becomes more diverse. A revitalized business district, a thriving agricultural industry, a 280-acre Park of Commerce and surrounding attractions make the Homestead/Florida City area a popular destination for newcomers. Luxurious new housing developments complement charming older neighborhoods. Innovative schools, lushly landscaped parks and renovated shopping areas enhance the quality of life.

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