Way before local citrus farmer Julia Tuttle lured railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to Miami with a bag of oranges, there were signs of life in our mosquito-infested clime. For one, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, located on the tip of Key Biscayne, had been built back in 1825 and remains the Big Mango’s oldest landmark. The lighthouse was also the scene of several Native American wars, served as a beacon for escaped slaves before the Civil War, and is still a favorite place to torch a blunt and host a late-night kegger for local youths. At HistoryMiami (101 W. Flagler St., Miami) a new exhibit titled “Key Biscayne: Island of Shifting Sands” showcases the area’s evolution from the time when the first Europeans soaked their gums with pints of grog in the shade of scrub pines to its waning days as a remote frontier. “Exhibitions like this, which feature some of the earliest documentation of human presence and settlement in South Florida, go a long way toward dispelling the notion that Miami has no history,” says Joanne Hyppolite, the museum’s chief curator. Highlights include a section of rare, never-exhibited images of life on the barrier island dating back to 1900 — taken from albums belonging to the Davis family, which owned land on Key Biscayne for close to a hundred years.
March 27-June 10, 2012