Musa Isle, the Living Tourist Attraction

October 9th, 2019

 

Located on the south bank of the Miami River just east of NW 27th Avenue, Musa Isle was a tourist attraction started by John Roop in 1907 on property he purchased from A. J. Richardson. In 1919, Roop leased a section of his property to a Seminole man named Willie Willie who, with his father Charlie, developed Musa Isle into a Seminole village attraction. Musa Isle embodied an early entrepreneurial attempt of the Seminoles to participate in the booming tourism economy of South Florida.

The village contained totem poles, a wishing well, and a museum. Native American women hand crafted authentic clothing, beads, and dolls, which they sold to tourists. The village was also home to various animals such as ducks, parrots, flamingos, chimpanzees, and monkeys, all of which seemingly had free run of the grounds. Closer to the river were the alligator pits, where men wrestled the reptiles in front of an awestruck audience. Sometimes visitors tossed coins into the river and young Seminole males would dive in after them.

Musa Isle closed in the mid-1960s, and its native population relocated along the Tamiami Trail west of Miami. A three-story apartment complex eventually replaced the tourist attraction along the river. Other Native American village-style tourist attractions also sprung up in Miami during the Musa Isle era. Presently, the Seminole Tribe of Florida operates several tourism-related businesses throughout southern Florida.

-Ursa Gil

“ChazzCreations Limited .” ChazzCreations, chazzcreations.com/florida_history/the_seminoles.

“Florida Seminoles and Musa Isle,” https://www.floridamemory.com/blog/2012/02/16/florida-seminoles-and-musa-isle/

Miami’s History of School Integration.

September 11th, 2019

    https://youtu.be/HfJhD-7tlhc   On a fall morning in 1959, four years after the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down the “separate but equal” doctrine and ruled segregated education unconstitutional, Dade County schools took the first steps toward integration. The county admitted seven-year-old Gary Range and three other African American students to Orchard Villa Elementary School Read More...

Rolling Skating Back to the Past

August 22nd, 2019

Ah, who can forget roller skating in Miami! Remember when you skated through your neighborhood on a sunny afternoon or grooved to the music on the roller rink dance floor? Get ready to lace up your skates to roll back in time in this edition of Learning from Miami featuring a roller skating spectacular from Miami’s past Read More...

Miami’s Two Arenas

July 19th, 2019

  Do you remember going to your first show at the Miami Arena? Many of us who grew up in Miami have fond memories of that pastel pink amphitheater in Downtown with its name scribbled in white cursive letters across the front of the building. We had a totally awesome time at the Miami Arena, whether we were rocking out to our first concert there, or cheering for our favorite team at our first sporting event Read More...

Reopening Fort Dallas Park.

July 1st, 2019

Historic Fort Dallas park was designated a city park in 1983. Currently it is abandoned, fenced off, and in need of a major renovation. The Miami River Commission is urging City of Miami officials to reopen the city-owned park, located at 60-64 SE Fourth Street. Fort Dallas houses several major historic buildings on its property Read More...

The Evolution of Dining Halls

May 3rd, 2019

Upscale dining halls are shopping mall food court’s younger, hipper cousin, and they are popping up all over South Florida. Shopping centers such as Brickell City Centre and Aventura Mall have recently opened their own upscale dining halls. Very soon, downtown Miami will join the upscale food court trend when the former Miami Center for Architecture & Design (MCAD) building (310 SE 1st St Read More...

Bacardi Building Receives Historic Designation

February 12th, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sssuF02pAuI   On January 24, 2019, the City of Miami Commission approved a resolution supporting the nomination of the Bacardi Building Complex for historic preservation. In this edition of Learning from Miami, we celebrate the architectural history of the iconic Bacardi building Read More...

What’s Happening, Downtown Miami?

December 5th, 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIrhoSfbmA0 As 2018 comes to a close, building developments continue to rise in downtown Miami. New structures are breaking ground in 2019, changing the way we live and travel, while linking us to the past. BRIGHTLINE It’s been less than a year since Brightline launched its passenger train service here in South Florida and big changes are underway Read More...

Remembering the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre

September 11th, 2018

Actor Burt Reynolds passed away on September 6, 2018 at 82 years old. He was well known for his roles in films such as “Deliverance” and “Smokey and the Bandit.” Reynolds was also a Florida native who founded one of the most famous cultural centers in South Florida, the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre Read More...

Burdines: “The Florida Store”

August 21st, 2018

  [caption id="attachment_3608" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Burdines building looking east along Flagler Street from the intersection with Miami Avenue. Photo courtesy of the State Library and Archives of Florida.[/caption] Before the era of mega malls, there were department stores.  One of the most memorable local department stores in Florida was Burdines Read More...