15 Historic Sites In Miami's Liberty City

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By: Dr. Dorothy Jenkins Fields

The first large migration of Blacks to Liberty City began in 1937 when many families moved to the Liberty Square Housing Project, the second Federal housing project built in the U.S.

The second major migration came in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a result of the Black displacement caused by the expressway construction that devastated Historic Overtown.

Today, Liberty City, which was the site of the 1980 riots, is on the verge of economic revival.

Visit these 15 historic sites in Liberty City:

1. Martin Luther King Boulevard

62nd Street from Biscayne Boulevard to Hialeah

Named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this largely commercial street runs east and west through several communities including Little Haiti, Liberty City, Brownsville and Hialeah. In the Brownsville section, a statue of Dr. King is in the park.

MLK Mural painted by the late Oscar Thomas
Stop by the MLK Mural painted by the late Oscar Thomas

2. 62nd Street Mural

Northwest 62nd Street and 7th Avenue 

Painted by the late artist Oscar Thomas, this colorful mural depicting the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of several in the area designed to represent the pride and heritage of the Liberty City community.

3. The Wall

Northwest 12th Avenue from 62nd to 71st streets 

Liberty City’s Wall was established in the 1930s as a result of the construction of the Liberty Square housing development. The Wall was built as a barrier to separate the new Black neighborhood on the west side of Northwest 12th Avenue from the already established white neighborhood on the east side. This concrete barrier remained for many years as a symbol of the Jim Crow era, which haunted American history over the years. The seven-foot wall was eventually demolished, and today the remnants of the structure run along a median that separates Northwest 12th Avenue from Northwest 12th Parkway.

4. Miami Northwestern High School

1100 NW 71st Street 

During segregation and after the phasing out of Dorsey Senior High in 1956, Black citizens petitioned the school board to build a new comprehensive senior high school in Liberty City. Northwestern was the first Black high school to win a state football championship. It was integrated with other county schools and now includes a medical and arts magnet program.

5. Gwen Cherry Park

7090 NW 22nd Avenue

This park honors the late State Rep. Gwen Cherry, the first Black woman elected to the Florida Legislature. She was the daughter of Miami’s first Black physician, Dr. William A. Sawyer.

6. Liberty Square

Northwest 12th to 15th avenues between 62nd and 67th streets 

The first public housing project erected in the State of Florida, Liberty Square opened on February 6, 1937. It was designed as a complete community for Black residents to relieve the congestion and inadequate housing in Historic Overtown. Besides 900 housing units, the complex also included a nursery school, a cooperative store, a Federal Credit Union and a central community building. Many Black middle-income professionals resided here prior to purchasing their own homes.

African Heritage Cultural Arts Center
The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center was created for local artists and youth to enhance their talents

7. African Heritage Cultural Arts Center

6161 NW 22nd Avenue

Colorfully designed with the vision of being a center for Liberty City’s artists and youth to display their work and enhance their talents, the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center opened in 1974. The center has an auditorium, art and dance classrooms and an exhibit area that can be utilized by the community and after-school arts programs.

8. Joseph Caleb Community Center

5400 NW 22nd Avenue

A product of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society,” the center was designed to alleviate poverty by providing decentralized neighborhood services. It is now a hub of activity with political forums and performing arts. It houses a library, child care programs, county and state services and the Black Archives, which collects, archives and interprets information about the Black experience in Miami.

9. Georgette’s Tea Room

2540 NW 51st Street

Georgette’s Tea Room is a historic structure located in Brownsville and built by Georgette Campbell. The 13-room English Tudor-style home was an elegant and lavish guest house that offered a secluded retreat to dine and sleep for famous black celebrities and entertainers such as Billie Holiday, Nat “King” Cole and the Ink Spots. It also served as a meeting place for black socialites for many years.

Miami Times building mural
Miami Times is the oldest Black-owned and operated newspaper in the City of Miami

10. Miami Times Building

900 NW 54th Street

Founded in 1923 by Henry E.S. Reeves, Miami Times is the oldest Black-owned and operated newspaper in the City of Miami. Originally located in Overtown, the newspaper moved to Liberty City and then to its present site designed by Alfred Browning Parker.

11. Masjid Al-Ansar — Muslim Mosque

5245 NW 7th Avenue

This Mosque has been in Liberty City for more than 30 years and also includes the Sister Clara’s school. Its presence demonstrates the diversity in religion in one of Miami’s predominantly Black residential communities.

12. Brownsville

Northwest 27th to 32nd avenues between 41st and 54th streets 

This pioneer neighborhood was platted by a Black man, Rev. W.L. Brown, in 1920 and became known as Brown Subdivision and later Brownsville.

13. Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery

3601 NW 41st Street

Designated as a historic site in 1991, this was one of two cemeteries where Blacks could be buried with dignity. Before that, Blacks were buried at the back of white cemeteries. Though records of the first people buried here were lost to fire, the cemetery remains a treasure paying homage to the past.

14. Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery

3001 NW 46th Street

One of the oldest cemeteries in Miami-Dade County, it consists of 538 mostly above-ground vaults. This manner of burial is used in areas with a high water table like Key West and New Orleans. Black pioneers buried here include: Dr. William A. Sawyer, the first Black physician in Miami-Dade County and founder of Christian Hospital; Arthur and Polly Mays, who opened a school for rural Black children in South Dade; and Florence Gaskins, who formed the first local Red Cross chapter for Blacks.

Hampton House Hotel entrance
The Historic Hampton House Hotel originally opened in 1954 as the "Social Center of the South"

15. Hampton House

4200-4240 NW 27th Avenue

The 54-room Hampton House hotel was once promoted as the “Social Center of the South.” Opened in 1954, the hotel also operated a popular nightclub. CORE (The Congress of Racial Equality) held their weekly meetings here and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a frequent guest. It is said that he gave an early version of his “I have a Dream” speech here. Notables such as Muhammad Ali maintained a permanent room in the hotel. In 2001, the Hampton House Community Trust was formed to gain historic designation for the site, save the abandoned hotel from demolition and plan its restoration and use.

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