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Historic Preservation Story Maps & Studies

The Office of Historic Preservation conducts special projects related to the history and heritage of Miami-Dade County. Projects have related to topics including climate change, the Cold War, post-World War II history and architecture, and surveying of historic resources.

Maps on public housing and hotels were created as part of an update to the book From Wilderness to Metropolis: The History and Architecture of Dade County (1825-1940). In 2021, Miami-Dade County received a Florida Division of Historical Resources grant to update From Wilderness to Metropolis to continue the story from 1940 to the 1980s.

Public Housing and Urban Renewal

Public housing, at the intersection of living arrangements, social and racial issues, and evolving geography of poverty and race in Miami, played a critical role in postwar discussion of the urban core. Often seen a barometer of government policy and funding, it was key to obtaining large federal aid to the city. In the same way that Federal direction was remodeling the single-family home and suburb, federal monies played a key role in the development of public housing in Miami.

No public housing was produced here before the PWA-supported Liberty Square Housing project in 1937. Also in 1937, the Miami Housing Authority (MHA) was established as a result of the federal Wagner-Steagal Act, which set the groundwork for sanctioned local authorities to work with the United States Housing Authority to fund public housing. In contrast to the suburbs, where federal policies were implicit, rapidly evolving federal priorities and systems played a central role.
Explore the Story Map

Hotels of the New Mass Tourism

As during its glorious prewar boom, Miami, and particularly Miami Beach, were postwar hotspots for the design, invention, and permutation of hospitality architecture. The postwar era brought a new challenge in the form of mass tourism. The first element of the new tourism, size, arrived just before World War II, as the financial strictures of the Great Depression eased, and tower construction boomed. Hotels were seen almost as mini-skyscrapers.

Increasing American wealth, more vacation time, and cheap abundant flights were continuing to boost the number of tourists arriving in the city. So too did the growth of conventions, especially after the completion of the Miami Beach Exhibition Hall in 1959, creating a need for larger hotels with more facilities. Air conditioning opened hotels to the prospect of year-round operations, opening the doors to cultural time sharing of resort facilities. As hotels swelled to accommodate the larger number of visitors facilitated by package tours, conventions and summer tourism, they were transformed into something new and more complex.
Explore the Story Map

Cold War Sites

In 2017, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners directed the Office of Historic Preservation to conduct a survey of Cold War resources in Miami-Dade County. A study was completed in 2019

The Cold War story map is currently in development and will be available soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about the Cold War in South Florida through the National Park Service’s Historic Resource Study.

Enhancing Paradise: The Impacts of Historic Preservation on Miami-Dade County

In 2018, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners directed creation of a study of the impacts of historic preservation on the County. The resulting study evaluated the contributions of historic preservation to the economy, culture, character and environment of Miami-Dade County. The study was completed by PlaceEconomics. 

Historic Site Vulnerability Assessment

In 2019, the Office of Historic Preservation completed an assessment of County-designated historic sites and their vulnerability to flooding and sea level rise. By analyzing the state of vulnerability, the Miami-Dade County Office of Historic Preservation is laying the foundation for an actionable policy of climate change adaptation and mitigation for its treasured and diverse built landscape. As a founding member of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact and Resilient305, Miami-Dade County is well-positioned to lead coastal communities towards a future in which climate resilience is an automatic facet of any policy conversation. This study was undertaken within that context to provide the Office of Historic Preservation with the data and insight needed to approach resilience planning for Miami-Dade County’s historic landscape.