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History of Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Quick Links

After Florida became a US territory in 1821, permanent European settlements in South Florida were developed. William English established a plantation with slaves in 1844, on the north bank of the Miami River. Other new settlers were escaped slaves from the southern states, who were welcomed by the Seminoles and became known as Black Seminoles. Many Seminoles and Black Seminoles used dugout canoes, launched from Cape Florida, to reach freedom in the Bahamas and Haiti to escape slavery and oppression by American settlers. From 1836 to 1857, during the second and third Seminole Wars, his plantation was occupied by the US Army, which used the buildings for its headquarters, naming it Fort Dallas.

Lighthouse at Cape Florida

The oldest structure in Miami-Dade County is the lighthouse in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, built in 1825.

William and Mary Brickell along with Julia Tuttle are considered to be the co-founders of the City of Miami. The Brickells moved from Cleveland, Ohio in 1871 and opened a trading post and post office on the south bank of the Miami River, near the site of Fort Dallas. The Brickell Trading Post became the primary source of trading between settlers and Seminoles in the area. Julia Tuttle moved to Fort Dallas in 1891, on land inherited from her father. Tuttle saw the potential of fort Dallas and convinced Henry Flagler to extend the Florida East Coast Railway to Fort Dallas, in exchange for parcels of her land to construct a hotel. Through this exchange, Flagler built the Royal Palm Hotel on the northern bank of the Miami River, as it empties into Biscayne Bay. Settlement of the shoreline of Biscayne Bay increased after the arrival of Flagler's railroad, which led to the incorporation of the City of Miami in 1896.

Several other important settlements developed along the bay in the mid to late 1800s, forming communities around the bay and the Miami River such as Lemon City, the town of Biscayne (present day Miami Shores) and Cocoanut Grove, later shortened to Coconut Grove. Commodore Ralph Middleton Munroe built his "Barnacle" inspired house along the Cocoanut Grove shoreline in 1891 when the primary travel means was by boat. His house and property were listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1973 as the Barnacle Historic State Park.

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Last updated: June 27, 2014

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