Insider's Guide  

Historic Overtown

Historic Overtown

Timothy A. Barber, executive director of the Black Archives, which makes its home in the historic Lyric Theater, explains that the establishment of Overtown as an important cultural center in Miami came from local and visiting artists who would go “over town” to their hotels, or to continue the party after their shows finished elsewhere in the city. If you want to experience an integral part of Miami’s culture, walk the streets of Overtown, visit the theater, look at the art on the walls, and don’t leave without getting some soul food in you.

The neighborhood is also home to local's favorites like the beloved People's Bar-B-Que, non-profit music projects, arts festivals, farmers markets and more.

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Since its inception in 1913, the 400-seat Lyric Theater has been a major entertainment center for blacks in Miami. Built by Georgia native Geder Walker, it served as a meeting place, social venue, and a means to escape discrimination. This is the only remaining building in the district once known as “Little Broadway,” and in its heyday served as both a movie and vaudeville theater.


Established in 1946, this soul food joint has arguably some of the best authentic eats to offer in Miami. Enthusiasts over the years include the late Nat King Cole, Trick Daddy, Lebron James, and Dwayne Wade. The current establishment has around 100 seats and serves up classics like fried catfish and biscuits, oxtail, collard greens, liver and onions, and peach cobbler. You may need a siesta when you’re done, but it’ll be totally worth it.


Known as the Rembrandt of Overtown, Purvis Young was a self-taught artist who claimed to have been visited by an angel while imprisoned as a teenager. Nomadic and often seen wandering around Overtown on foot or by bike, he preferred painting on discarded items like books and doors as opposed to canvases. Now considered one of the most important street artists in the world, you can still see many of his original murals in Overtown. He died in prison in 2010, but his art lives on in the streets of Overtown, adding to his mystique and memory.

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