The Stories Behind the Names of 25 Miami-Dade Cities and Neighborhoods

The Stories Behind the Names of 25 Miami-Dade Cities and Neighborhoods
Photo by France1978's Flickr CC2.0

Compared to many American cities, Miami has a relatively short history. Much of that history involves real-estate development booms and busts. The result is that many of the area's city and neighborhood names are either shockingly obvious, highly descriptive, or simply pretty and marketable. (Buena Vista, for example, doesn't have a view any more beautiful than many other neighborhoods, but it sure sounds good.)

Some others, however, have a more interesting backstory. Here are a few: 

Allapattah 
Though some locals have tried to rebrand the area as Little Santo Domingo, the Miami neighborhood wedged between Little Havana and Liberty City takes its name from the Seminole word for "alligator." Which is appropriate considering that in 2013 a man in the neighborhood made headlines for trying to trade a live alligator for beer

Aventura 
Some people oddly assume the city's name comes from the mall, but that's not the case. Don Soffer, one of the original developers of the area, says he chose the name "Aventura" in 1968, 15 years before the mall opened. One version of the story goes that the name was inspired when one developer involved in the project remarked to another: "What an adventure this will be." The word "aventura" is Spanish for "adventure." 

Oh, Soffer also once said the correct pronunciation is "Aven-TOUR-a," although many people pronounce it "Aven-CHUR-a." 

Bal Harbour
Bal Harbour
Photo by Infinity2 / Shutterstock.com

Bal Harbour 
This village was originally called Bay Harbour, but the city wanted to let everyone know the town wasn't on just a bay; it was on an ocean too. So they came up with the word "Bal" as something of a combination of the words "bay" and "Atlantic." 

Brickell 
This is Miami History 101 here: The neighborhood is named for William and Mary Brickell, who, along with Julia Tuttle, played a major part in founding Miami. 

Coral Gables owes its name to its founder's childhood home.
Coral Gables owes its name to its founder's childhood home.

Coral Gables 
Coral Gables founder George Merrick came to the area as a boy when his father moved the family here at the turn of the century. The home the family lived in had gables (i.e., the term for triangular wall under a roof's pitch) made of limestone — hence "Coral Gables." At least according to local legend, that's how he chose the name. His family's home is still operated by the city as a historical site. 

Doral
Alfred and Doris Kaskel developed the area and simply decided to combine their first names. Sounds slightly better than Kaskel, Florida. 

El Portal 
This is Spanish for "the gate," because there used to be a large wooden gate at the entrance to the village. 

Florida City
Florida City's seemingly unoriginal name is actually a big middle finger to Detroit. In the 1910s, much of the area was bought up by a Michigan-based company that advertised the new area heavily in Detroit. A bunch of people in Detroit moved down, and they decided to call the new area Detroit too. 

According to the city's official website, longtime residents soon came into conflict with the Detroiters, and many of the Detroiters moved back home. Shortly afterward, the area was renamed "Florida City." Take that, Michigan! This is a Florida city! 

Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau
Photo by Kristin Bjornsen

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Fontainebleau
Yes, the mainland neighborhood takes its name from the famed Miami Beach resort. In 1970, Ben Novack, the Fontainebleau's original owner, grew jealous of Doris and Alfred Kaskel's plans in Doral and wanted to create his own planned golf course, resort, and community. It was to be known as Fontainebleau Park. Novack, however, soon fell into financial problems (and the Fontainebleau Park investment headache would play a part in the hotel's foreclosure in 1977). The company Trafalgar Developers would go on to develop the community under the "Fontainebleau" name, but no link to the famed hotel would ever be mentioned in press or promotional materials when the community opened in the '70s. 

The Fontainebleau hotel, by the way, takes its name from a castle in France. 

Goulds
This community is simply named after Lyman Gould, who operated the Florida East Coast Railway depot in the area. 


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