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Miami Beach. Close your eyes and think of those two words. Those 10 letters in succession probably bring up images of bathing suits, white sand beaches, and clear blue waters. Muscle beach, and a nightlife worthy of the stars. Somewhere off in the distance, some tourist is singing songs about lying on the beach to the break of dawn. “Welcome to Miami”.

But before Miami was the travel destination for all who love warm weather, it was feral. Swamp marshes, wild animals, and native Tequesta tribes. (Of whom named Miami “Mayami” meaning big water) Shells were carved into tools as native’s hunted bears, deer and wild fowl. European settlement didn’t arrive until 1513 in the form of Spanish Explorer Ponce De Leon. And it wasn’t until 1822 that Florida was purchased by America for 5 million dollars.

In the 1940’s, Miami became a huge training ground for all branches of the armed forces. With the end of the war came the veterans who had grown fond of “sand in their shoes,” setting up households in Miami as permanent residences. By the 1950s, the population of Miami had grown to 172,000. 1959, the city became an international haven for refugees. During the 1960s, Miami served as a center of international activities involving the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The city became a Latin American capital and continued on this trend through the 1980s. Miami was flooded with businessmen who brought billions of dollars into Miami, which were quickly funneled through front organizations into the local economy. Luxury car dealerships, five-star hotels, condominium developments, nightclubs, major commercial developments began very hastily.

In the latter half of the 2000–2010 decade, Miami has seen an extensive boom of high rise architecture, dubbed a “Miami Manhattanization” wave. This has included the construction of many of the tallest buildings in Miami, with nearly 20 of the city’s tallest 25 buildings finished after 2005, 2007 and 2008. This boom has transformed the look of downtown Miami, which is now considered to have one of the largest skylines in the United States, ranked behind New York City and Chicago.

So, Miami Beach. Close your eyes. Now what do you see?

August 2017, Miami Beach will be host of the bearded villains world meet. Another piece of history, for an already historical town.

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