Recently having celebrated it’s 90th anniversary, the city of South Miami has been centered on commerce, growth and economic development since its inception. It should therefore come as no surprise that the area was once serviced and based around a railroad track, and continues to be served by the metro rail. Recently ranked as one of the top ten cities for young families by Nerd Wallet, and given the distinction of the All-America City Award by the National Civic League, these recognitions are compliment to the changes that the city has gone under the last
several years, yet also pay tribute to the way the citizens of the city honor the hometown feel and ensure it remains the City of Pleasant Living.
Originally purchased for a home and barn, Wilson Alexander Larkins purchased a large plot of land which is now the city limits comprising west of 57th Ave (Red Road) and north of 72nd St (Sunset Drive). He also built the first general store for the area, in what is now known as Cartagena Plaza, or Cocoplum Circle (now considered a part of Coral Gables). As the community grew, Larkins also established the post office, where he served as the first Postmaster for sixteen years. Despite all his contributions to the city, the vast majority of settlers did not honor his wishes to call the area Manila, rather preferred the name Larkins, in his honor. Although in 1926 the residents incorporated the area and chose it’s current name, back then just a town, tribute to Larkins as well as many other prominent families can still be found today:
- Dorn family (SW 59th Avenue) who had a successful Fruit and Vegetable Company (the brothers), Mary was the first president of the Cocoplum Thimble Club – the first Women’s Club in Larkins, and they built the Riviera Theatre, first post office, drug store and bank.
- Charles T. Fuchs brought his bakery business to the area, which became known as Holsum Bread was the epicenter of the city, providing jobs and aromas has Fuchs Park.
- Marshall Williamson Park and Madison Square are both named after the first African-American to purchase land in the Larkins area, Marshall Williamson, who moved there from Madison, Florida. He also donated the land for Larkins’s first church, St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the land for J. R. E. Lee School. His original home was 6500 SW 60th Ave. And much more!
Since it’s inauguration, it took twenty-five years for the town to fully prosper, having met with a destructive hurricane within that first year, and with the federal government being unwilling to relieve the people of their income tax for that current year. A fire later burned down the railway station, rendering it very difficult to recuperate to South Miami’s former glory. However, by the mid-century, it was once again booming, and known as the crossroads between the country and the city – a place where you could buy hay for your farm, or a tux for your party. Although the original boundaries once extended to the Palmetto expressway, and as far south as Kendall Drive, in order to help maintain it’s recovery, parts of the city were sold off, making it’s boundaries very unique, to say the least. The City appears to be headed in the right direction, however, as they moved to grant historic recognition to about 30 homes from the Tudor Revival and Mediterranean revival of the early 1900’s in 2005. Also in the early 2000’s, the city joined several other cities in the country in forming partnerships to help foster cultural and economic development between themselves and around the world; South Miami has also joined Sister Cities International.
All information about South Miami courtesy of Wikipedia and South Miami Magazine.