Social History

Book Mobile Steve Wever

Bookmobiles

The first bookmobile in Miami began in January of 1928. Since then, bookmobiles have been the bearers of books and carriers of culture for patrons in outlying areas. At the program’s peak in 1979, the county maintained about 20 bookmobiles that fanned out all over Dade County. People checked out 293,000 books from the mobile […]

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Seaboard Railroad Albert Coya

Seaboard Railroad

The rush during the late ’20s was so great that Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast tracks couldn’t handle all the business. So the Seaboard Air Line railroad reached down from North Florida, building stations along the way. On Jan. 8, 1927, a train called the Orange Blossom Special made its first journey into Hollywood and […]

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Paradise Lost –And Regained

Philip Wylie, the famous American author-philosopher came to Miami in 1929, when the town lay in the backwash of bust and the Depression, and rusting steel skeletons of unfinished buildings stood as monuments to community despair. He kept a home here until his death in 1971. And often, he wrote about his adopted city — […]

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Miami drug wars

The deadly 1979 shootout at Dadeland Mall in broad daylight between Colombian traffickers– quickly dubbed ”the Cocaine Cowboys” by a police officer on the scene — heralded the beginning of South Florida’s bloody and violent drug wars in which drug dealers competed for Miami’s wholesale markets. The mob-style execution and growing violence in the streets […]

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Cuban Rafter Crisis

In the early ’90’s, Cuban rafters began to cast off in alarming numbers. On July 13, 1994, Cuban government boats sank a commandeered tugboat that left at least 39 people dead. The next month, outraged Cuban citizens watched the government retake a hijacked ferry in Havana Bay to thwart another escape attempt. Rioting erupted. People […]

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2 Live Crew

South Florida made the world news as Liberty City-born Luther Campbell and two members of his band, the 2 Live Crew, are acquitted on obscenity charges. Broward Sheriff’s deputies had arrested them at a concert in June 1990 at Hollywood’s Club Futura. But when prosecutors played nearly unintelligible tapes of the vulgarity-filled concert, jurors mostly […]

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Jordan Marsh

Miami’s first Jordan Marsh store opened downtown in 1956, complete with a swimming pool and a dock. Styling itself “The Store with the Florida Flair,” Jordan Marsh’s sales and profits grew as it opened stores throughout the state — at Sunrise Shopping Center in Fort Lauderdale in 1960, at Colonial Plaza in Orlando in 1962 […]

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Moonshine

Florida has a long history of moonshiners and rumrunners. But long after Prohibition ended in 1933, moonshiners continued to make illegal liquor in South Florida cities and the Everglades. Into the 1950s and ‘60s, police and revenue authorities battled the moonshiners in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other parts of the South, seizing untaxed home brew […]

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School Integration

The landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court came out in May 1954, but it wasn’t until 1959 that Miami-Dade County’s schools admitted the first group of African Americans to Orchard Villa Elementary School, which had been all white.  Seven-year-old Gary Range and three other black students broke barriers […]

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McDuffie Riots, 1980

Riots erupted after four white police officers were acquitted by an all-white jury in the death of Arthur McDuffie, a black Miami insurance agent.

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