Miami is riding a wave of affluence and optimism making it one of the most attractive cities in the US. Its distinct Latin flavour, glistening beaches and legendary nightlife draw stylish party-goers and sun-worshipers from across the Americas. Mix in a thriving arts scene and great restaurants and you’ve got a prime travel destination.

Here are 7 random facts about Florida’s most lively and beautiful city.

cameo theatre miami

1. Miami was a mangrove swamp before its development started in the 1920s.

What is now a glittering city was once a mosquito infested swamp, with no deep water port, railroad, or air conditioning. It wasn’t until the extension of a railroad system from West Palm Beach to Miami in the 1920s that the development of the city started.

Cameo theatre

2. Miami installed the first bank automated teller machine (ATM) specially designed for rollerbladers.

In-line skaters weren’t always the most popular customers in Miami’s banks and shops. In 1996, Citibank’s Miami Beach branch came up with an innovative solution to help rollerbladers access their funds – they set up an ATM outside the bank with a ramp leading up to it.

miami skateboarder

3. The world’s largest collection of Art Deco Architecture (800+ buildings) is found in Miami.

Miami Beach has thirty blocks of whimsical Art Deco hotels and apartment houses built between the 1920s and the 1940s. The best examples of the Art Deco architecture are concentrated along three parallel streets – Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, and Washington Avenue – from about 6th to 23rd streets. Nearly all of the buildings have been restored and painted in their original pastel colours.  Check out Park Central Hotel,  an old  hangout for Hollywood stars like Clark Gable and Rita Hayworth.

4. The city of Miami is the only major city in the U.S. to be planned by a woman.

Julia Tuttle was a Cleveland native who moved to Miami in 1891 after her husband’s death. Known as the “mother of Miami”, she developed the land that the city was built on and convinced railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to expand his Florida East Coast Railway to Miami. The city was incorporated shortly thereafter.


5. Miami has more than 800 parks.

Miami is the only city in the US that is bordered by two separate national parks – Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park. Countless other parks situated downtown, oceanside and in the suburbs provide opportunities for picnics, watersports, fishing, and hikes. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen!

6. The Port of Miami is the largest cruise ship port in the world (OK, maybe you already knew this one).

Known as both the “Cruise Capital of the World,” and the “Cargo Gateway of the Americas”, the Port of Miami sees a million people pass through each year.

miami cruise ship

7. Sunscreen was invented by a Miami Beach physician.

 In the 1940s, Benjamin Green developed a lotion for WWII soldiers stationed in the South Pacific. He reportedly produced the world’s first sunscreen, a red-coloured petroleum gel, in his own kitchen. After the war, he improved his formula which was then manufactured by Coppertone.

Read more about cities on Untapped Cities.