North Miami Beach

Great history surrounds North Miami Beach. Captain William H. Fulford was attracted to what is now North Miami Beach during his Coast Guard patrol along the Atlantic side of the peninsula during the Spanish-American War. In 1881 he explored Big Snake Creek (later renamed the Oleta River) and found this area amid lowlands, marshes, and mangroves, a retreat from the fury of the Atlantic. See Oleta River State Park History. When Henry Flagler extended the Florida East Coast Railway from West Palm Beach to Miami in 1896, he placed depots at numerous spots along the route, and small towns quickly developed around those stops. Many of the settlers to the area were homesteaders who were attracted to the area by offers of 160 acres of free land by the federal government. In 1897, utilizing the Homestead Act, Captain Fulford acquired a 160-acre land patent from President Grover Cleveland. During the 1890’s settlers established farms along the east side of the Oleta River. That area was originally named Ojus in 1897 by Albert Fitch, a farmer who wanted to grow pineapples in the rich soil. The word Ojus is a Seminole word for “plenty” or “lots of”, and when Fitch was in the area, Ojus grew plenty of peas, beans, sugar cane, and tomatoes.  See A Bit of Ojus History. The distance between Fulford and Ojus was only a mile or so, but it was great enough in those days of poorly paved roads and difficult travel conditions to generate separate communities. In the early 1900’s rock mining in the area began and it was discovered that the rock coming out of Ojus had qualities that made it ideal for road building. Rock mining continued around the area, creating many lakes such as Maule Lake and the lakes in the Sky Lake neighborhood. In 1912 Lafe Allen, a former newspaper owner, came to Florida. He and an associate purchased Captain Fulford’s original grant plus additional property with the idea of developing and selling lots. Eventually, they purchased 557 acres of land. In 1917, Mr. Allen made plans for a “perfect city” calling for 80-foot wide residential streets and 100 and 125-foot wide business thoroughfares. North Miami Beach’s street layout is as the pioneer pictured it in 1917 with wide avenues named Fulford Boulevard (now known as NE 172nd Street) and Flagler Boulevard (now known as NE 19th Avenue). The Fulford-by-the-Sea Company began selling lots in 1922. During the Florida land boom of the 1920’s, lots were sometimes sold eight times before ever being recorded.

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