Miami is a global city in southeastern Florida, in the United States. Miami is the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida. Miami is the largest city within the Miami metropolitan area, which is the seventh-largest metro area in the United States with over 5.4 million residents. The Miami Urbanized Area was the fifth most populous urbanized area in the U.S. in the 2000 census with a population of 4,919,036. The United Nations estimated that in 2007, Miami had become the fourth largest urbanized area in the country, behind New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The Miami area was first inhabited for more than one thousand years by the Tequesta Indians, but was later claimed for Spain in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567. In 1836, Fort Dallas was built, and the Miami area subsequently became a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.
Miami is partitioned into many different sections, roughly into North, South, West and Downtown. The heart of the city is Downtown Miami and is technically on the eastern side of the city. This area includes Brickell, Virginia Key, Watson Island, and the Port of Miami. Downtown is South Florida’s central business district, and home of many major banks, financial headquarters, cultural and tourist attractions, and high-rise residential towers.
The southern side of Miami includes Coral Way and Coconut Grove. Coral Way is a historic residential neighborhood built in 1922 connecting Downtown with Coral Gables, and is home to many old homes and tree-lined streets. Coconut Grove was established in 1825 and is the location of Miami’s City Hall in Dinner Key, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, CocoWalk, many nightclubs, bars, restaurants and bohemian shops, and as such, is very popular with local college students. It is a historic neighborhood with many parks and gardens such as Villa Vizcaya, The Kampong, The Barnacle Historic State Park, and home of the Coconut Grove Convention Center, many of the country’s most prestigious private schools, and numerous historic homes and estates.
The western side of Miami includes Little Havana, West Flagler, and Flagami, and is home to many of the city’s traditionally immigrant neighborhoods. Although at one time a mostly Jewish neighborhood, today western Miami is home to immigrants from mostly Central America and Cuba, while the west central neighborhood of Allapattah is a multicultural community of many ethnicities.
Miami is home to many entertainment venues, theaters, museums, parks and performing arts centers. The newest addition to the Miami arts scene is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts center in the United States after the Lincoln Center in New York City, and is the home of the Florida Grand Opera. In it, is the Ziff Ballet Opera House, the center’s largest venue, the Knight Concert Hall, the Carnival Studio Theater and the Peacock Rehearsal Studio. The center attracts many large scale operas, ballets, concerts, and musicals from around the world and is Florida’s grandest performing arts center. Other performing arts venues in Miami include the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Colony Theatre, Lincoln Theatre, New World Symphony House, Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, Jackie Gleason Theatre, Manuel Artime Theater, Ring Theatre, Playground Theatre, Wertheim Performing Arts Center, the Fair Expo Center and the Bayfront Park Amphitheater for outdoor music events.
The city is home to numerous museums as well, many of which are in Downtown. These include the Bass Museum, Frost Art Museum, Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Jewish Museum of Florida, Lowe Art Museum, Miami Art Museum, Miami Children’s Museum, Miami Science Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Wolfsonian-FIU Museum and the Miami Cultural Center, home of the Main Miami Library. Other popular cultural destinations in the area include Jungle Island, Miami MetroZoo, Miami Seaquarium, and parks and gardens in and around the city; there are over 80 parks in Miami. The largest and most popular parks are Bayfront Park and Bicentennial Park, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Tropical Park, Watson Island, Morningside Park and Key Biscayne.