The population of Miami, Florida grew dramatically through the 20th-century. However, the most dramatic period of growth was from 1900 to 1940. The population increased from 1700 in 1900 (Miami’s first official census) to over 172,000 in 1940 – including an increase of over 400% between 1920 and 1930. (‘City Pops’) As hoped by the ‘Father of Miami,’ Henry Flager (founder of the Florida East Coast Railway), northerners moved to Miami during the period attracted by the warmer climate. (‘Miami’)

An additional cause of rapid growth of Miami was the “Florida Land Boom.” Thousands of people moved to FLorida to take advantage of the available land. As a result, several planned communities were created that eventually evolved into incorporated towns and sities. However, the ‘real estate bubble’ burst in May, 1926 as a (category four) hurricane all but ended the land boom. The smaller 1928 ‘Okeechobee Hurricane’ ended the boom completely. Along with the newly created communities that remained in and around Miami – after the boom had ended, a “new history of racially deed restricted properties that segregated cities for decades” were established. (‘Florida Land Boom’)

One community impacted by the “racially deed restricted properties” by the 1930s was Overtown. Through the first third of the 20th-century, 40% of the population was made up of African-Americans who had moved from other parts of the South and migrants from the Bahamas. Looking for an opportunity to enjoy economic success, all Black residents of Miami were forced to live in Overtown. They were limited to low-wage subservient jobs and had little opportunity to advance. (‘Miami’ and ‘Florida Land Boom’)

Although people were attracted to Miami by the warmer climate, the vast amount of available land, and economic potential, one annoyance had a negative impact on population growth – the mosquito; it was not only a pest but was also dangerous. A carrier of Yellow and Dengue Fever, as well as Malaria, the mosquito could also ‘suffocate cattle and drive humans to suicide.’ In the early 1920s, the Florida Anti-Mosquito Association was formed and began draining projects and monitoring mangroves, and used “‘Paris Green,’ an oil-based pesticide with copper acetoarsenite to control mosquito larvae in the swamps and bayous of the southern United States. It is most commonly used for larval control.” (‘How did Early Floridians Deal With Mosquitos’ and ‘The Early Days of Mosquito Control’) Not eradicated, the mosquito was put under control.

Population growth between 1930 and 1940 had slowed considerably due to the Great Depression. Internal migration in the United States had shifted from people moving to Florida to more of a westward migration towards California. Overall, Miami had become one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.


“1926 Miami Hurricane.” Accessed October 13, 2022.

“City Pops 1790-2010” Excel

“Florida Land Boom of the 1920s.” Accessed October 13, 2022.

“How did Early Floridians Deal with Mosquitos?” Tampa Bay Times. December 18, 2019.

Accessed October 13, 2022.,River%20County%2C%20then%20called%20Mosquito%20County.&text=The%20Florida%20Anti-Mosquito%20Association,then%20called%20Mosquito%20County.&text=Anti-Mosquito%20Association%20%28now%20known,River%20County%2C%20then%20called

“Miami” Accessed October 13, 2022.

“The Early Days of Mosquito Control.” Mosquito Control. Accessed October 13, 2022.

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