Overtown- Miami’s Historic Black Neighborhood

The neighborhood was settled by African American railroad workers who completed the Florida East Coast Railroad in the late 19th century and choose to live just northwest of Dwtn Miami. Quickly the neighborhood became the historic African American heart of South Florida and was referred to as “Colored Town” until the mid-20th century. Overtown also hosted one of the premier entertainment and jazz districts of the early to mid 20th century along Northwest Second Avenue and was called the “Little Broadway” of the South. Overtown experienced serious economic decline starting in the 1950s thanks to aggressive highway construction, urban renewal, and community fragmentation. The neighborhood used to host close to 50,000 residents but now is just 10,000 residents call Overtown home. Amazing how dense and vibrant this neighborhood used to be.

Yet there is still hope for Overtown. As Miami’s housing market has exploded more and more people are willing to purchase homes on Overtown’s more stable streets. With great public transit, okay walkability, cheaper housing, some cultural amenities of its own, and convenient access to Dwtn this makes a lot of some. There is also new multi-family and mixed-use development in the SE edge adjacent to Dwtn and perhaps Wynwood development will finally reach Overtown’s northern edge. Hopefully this positive momentum continues but there is so much blight and disinvestment to reclaim.

Click here to view my album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great access to dwtn and excellent public transit access.
* Good amount of dedicated affordable housing.
* Some 1-bed condos selling in the 100Ks & 200Ks, 2-beds condos sell btwn 200K-500K, great array of prices for 3 & 4 beds ranging from 200K-1M depending on size and condition.
* Good dispersal of small and medium sized parks across the district.
* Overtown has decent cultural amenities with a fair # of restaurants, a handful bars & cafes, 1 art gallery, a community theater, the Historic Lyric Theater and good access to the cultural amenities of Dwtn & Wynwood.
* Newer MF and mixed-use infill is pretty good. But plenty of mid-century and auto centric crud.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* The many freeways and urban renewal developments has really broken up the neighborhood connectivity.
* Ok bike lane infrastructure but not dedicated bike stations here.
* Still a very impoverished neighborhood with 40% poverty, Medium household income is 32K.
* Good array of walkable schools but generally not rated well. Several schools in adjacent neighborhoods are rated better.
* Rental hsg is affordable for Miami standards but more and more newer product at high price points is being built. 1-beds lease btwn 1-2K, 2-beds anywhere btwn 1.5-3K depending on condition. Some 3-beds leasing in the 3Ks & 4Ks. Decent but not a great amount of product.
* Overtown seems to still have pretty high levels of crime even though it’s much less than it ushed to be. While development and renovations have occurred, esp. recently, plenty of blighted and vacant blocks.
* Because of this Overtown still has a perception issue.
* Some pedestrian activity along 1st St and the new development in the SE corner, but overall its pretty limited.
* Most of the quality historic architecture has been torn down. Some decent SF homes remain (esp. in the Spring Garden sub-district) and some interesting mid century apts.
* Retail amenities are limited to two full service supermarkets here and several small grocerias, a pharmacy, local public library and post office, a handful of barbers, plenty of churches, and Jackson Memorial Hospital is in the NE corner. Very limited retail west of I-95 and still many convenient stores.
* With the neighborhood so bombed out with lots of urban renewal in-fill not get urban cohesion and form. Newer in-fill in the SE corner is certainly an improvement.

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