Five miles long, the Miami River has gone from a crystal clear wild river to gritty urban sprawl. Its early settlers, the Tequestas, shared the river’s banks and pools with panthers and alligators. In the first half of the 20th century the Miami River Rapids area was dredged and dynamited to build the Miami Canal, part of an Everglades drainage project. Henry Flagler came to the Miami River and built the Royal Palm Hotel, giving visitors a glimpse of the Everglades. By the 1950s, 25 sewage outlets spewed raw untreated sewage into the river. The waterway served as the stage for the River Cops corruption scandal during the drug smuggling heydays of the 1980s. Today the river’s murky waters are lined with a haphazard mix of marinas, fishing docks, cargo freight terminals, historic homes, vacant lots, parks, high-rise condominiums, pedestrian green-ways and restaurants.
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