IPH Communities – Little Havana Chronology


1839 – 1840  

Members of the U.S. Army pass through the eastern edge of what would later be Jose Marti Park while pursuing the Seminoles into the Everglades.


The Sagamore, a union gunboat, passes the eastern edge of what would later be Jose Marti Park , as it neared the home of George Lewis.


Early Miami promoters and developers, Bethel B. Tatum, John R. Tatum, and Smiley Tatum, come to Miami from Dawson, Georgia.


The Eduardo Luis Gonzalez family moves to Miami, becoming the first known Cubans living in the city.

Olive Chapman Lauther arrives in Miami.


Miami’s early rise in population leads to the development of several subdivisions south and west of Downtown. The subdivisions on the west, which correspond with today’s East Little Havana, include Miami (A. L. Knowlton), Riverside (later Riverview), and Lawrence Estate Land Company subdivision. Elegant two story residences and bungalows prevail in the neighborhoods early years.


Athos LaSalle and his family move from Orland to Miami, bringing with them a newspaper that eventually evolves into the Miami Herald (1910). The LaSalle family moves into a house on SW 1st St. and 7th Ave.


The Tatum brothers sell lots in Riverside for $300 to $350 through their Lawrence Estate Land Company subdivision.


The 12th Street (later Flagler Street) Bridge opens as a toll-roadway, connecting Riverside to Downtown. The trolley and bridge foster the neighborhood’s growth.

J.W. Warner and his family come to Miami with the railroad.


The Tatum brothers encourage Miamians to buy land in Riverside, warning that an electronic trolley line would be completed through Riverside in only three months, raising prices by 50 percent.


Formerly an auditor for the railroad, J.W. Warner enters the floral business and opens the Miami Floral Company (SW 5th Ave and 1st St.).


The complex of buildings that eventually become The Miami River Inn (SW 2nd St.) start being built.


The City of Miami purchases the 12th Street Bridge and removes the tolls charged to cross it.


Olive Chapman Lauther moves into her home at 1011 W. Flagler St., the current location of the Master Care Panaderia Dullceria.


The Warner Place (SW 5th Ave and 1st St.), home of J.W. Warner, is built at the site of the Miami Floral Company.


Smiley Tatum builds a home for Cyrus Thompson at 676 S.W. 1st St. The home includes an outdoor shower, which all men were expected to use before entering the home in the evening.


A Flagler Street trolley begins operations, carrying passengers as far west as S.W. 12th Avenue.

Parker Henderson is elected Mayor of Miami.

Construction begins on 8th Street (A.K.A. Highway 41, the Tamiami Trail, and, since the 60s, Calle Ocho).

Riverside Elementary School opens at 1190 S.W. 2nd St.


Parker Henderson finishes his term as mayor of Miami.


Riverside reaches beyond Eighth, 12th and 17th avenues.


Miami’s streets are renamed and renumbered.

The congregation of the Riverside United Methodist Church begins when 70 people gather at Riverside Elementary School for an organizational meeting.

Robert’s Drugstore opens at 701 West Flagler St.


Living at 120 S.W. Eighth Street, the Encinosas become the known Cuban family to live on Calle Ocho. By this point a significant number of Cubans are living in the Riverside area.

The Riverside Baptist Church (S.W. 1st St. and 9th Ave.) is built one year after the congregation was organized.


McAllister Florist opens at 801 S.W. 1st St.

Ada Merritt Junior High School (660 SW 3rd St.) is built. It was closed in the 1970’s but was saved from demolition by protests from the Hispanic neighborhood surrounding the school. In the 1970s the school was transformed into a Hispanic Job Corp Center.


A trolley line begins operations down Sixth Street.

Construction is completed on 8th Street. For the next 30 years, Tamiami Trail is primarily filled with Jewish-owned-and-operated businesses.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church builds a place of worship at 862 SW Fourth St. At the time of its construction, the congregation was already over 10 years old and had been active in community affairs. In recent time, the church has become primarily Hispanic and is now called by its Spanish name, Templo Adventista del Septimo Dia.


An increasing number of Jews move into the Riverside area. Their businesses, professional offices and institutions accompany them. This population continues to grow, remaining a major element of the community until the 1950s.


Mayor Redmond Gautier is elected to office.


Mayor Redmond Gautier completes his term as mayor of Miami.


Gardner Malloy, a tennis star from Miami, playes Bobby Riggs at Henderson Park (971 NW 2nd St.) for the Dade County Tennis Championship. Riggs wins the match in five sets.


The current building for the Riverside United Methodist Church at 985 NW 1st St. is built.


The Stein Paint Company opens at 545 W. Flagler St. As Miami’s oldest paint store, it has provided paint for the Orange Bowl Stadium, the University of Miami Complex, and Carnival Cruise Line ships.


The Miami Jewish Home for the Aged opens with 31 beds at 335 S.W. 12th Ave.

“Doc” Jerome Stern buys Robert’s Drugstore while it is still located at its original site. Eventually the store moved to 590 West Flagler St., an area called “Little Vietnam” for its high crime rate in the early 1980s. In the early post war years, Charlton Heston and Georgie Jessel visited the store for its fabulous milkshakes.

Olive Chapman Lauther moves out of her home at 1011 W. Flagler St..


A hurricane floods many parts of the neighborhood.


The Miami Hebrew School and Junior Congregation (1101 S.W. 12th Ave) is built.


Postwar prosperity leads to another major housing boom, prompting many Riverside residents to move to suburban developments throughout Dade County.


A beautiful bust of Jose Marti is presented to the City of Miami by the Cuban Tourist Commission, underlining the already close ties between the two entities in pre-Castro times. The statue currently sits in Jose Marti Park (which openned in the 1980s).


The Miami Hebrew School and Junior Congregation is targeted by hate groups who attempt to dynamite it twice in 1951. The site of the old Jewish center is currently the Iglesia Bautista Renacer.


A new structure is built encapsulating the Riverside Baptist Church. At this point, the church is largely Southern and many of Miami’s leading families are members of it. Eventually, the church moves to Kendall.


Large numbers of immigrants, coming from Cuba, Nicaragua, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries, begin pouring into Riverside, which is consequently dubbed Little Havana. They transform the culture of the area, and their continuous immigration prevents the gentrification of the neighborhood.


The Riverside United Methodist Church begins serving Cuban refugees.


El Credito (1106 SW 8th St.), originally started in Havana in 1907, moves to Miami.


The Warner family ceases to operate the Miami Floral Company from the first floor of their home.


The popular Malaga restaurant opens at 740 SW Eight St.


The Museum of the Cuban Holocaust opens in part of the building that used to be the Riverside Baptist Church.


The Mariel Boatlift brings thousands of Cubans into Miami. East of Jose Marti Park, the temporary Tent City is built to house hundreds of homeless Cuban refugees.


President Reagan dines at La Esquina de Tejas, located at S.W. 12th Avenue and 1st St.


The Al Martirologio Del Presidio Politico Cubano memorial (SW Seventh Ave. and 4th St.), honoring Cuban political prisoners in the era of Fidel Castro, is completed in Riverside Park.


Nicaraguan immigrants flock to Metcalfe Apartments.

Rio Plaza (546 SW 1st Ave.) opens. Built by the nonprofit East Little Havana Community Development Corporation, this complex offers 114 condominiums for low and moderate income persons.


A bronze statue of Claude Pepper is placed in Jose Marti Park (351 SW 4th St.) shortly after his death. The statue was sculpted by Tony Lopez, a Cuban exile who works in Palm Beach County.


Riverside Elementary School starts the school year in a new colorful Art Deco building.

Owner of the Miami River Inn complex, Sally Jude, completes restoration of the historic site.


Olive Chapman Lauther dies at the age of 104.

Spiritualist Rimborti Mirachura Chindoy Mutunba-Joy Casamijoy, who claims to hail from the Columbian Amazon, begins operating out of La Botanica La Abuela (1122 SW 8th St.).

By this point, Nicaraguan immigrants form Little Havana’s dominant ethnic group. The neighborhood has a high percentage of elderly persons as well as a large percentage of young struggling families.

Ask bubble