A Miami Beach Chronology

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1400

Related to the Calusa, the principal tribe of southwestern Florida, the Tequesta inhabited Miami Beach. A 1935 excavation of a burial mound at 96th Street would offer a glimpse into the home life of these first settlers.

1513

Having first made landfall at today’s St. Augustine on April 2, Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de León claimed the peninsula he named La Florida, in honor of Pascua Florida, the Spanish Feast of Flowers during Easter. Reportedly on a quest to find the “Fountain of Youth,” Ponce de León, governor of Puerto Rico at the time, along with two hundred men in three ships, set sail on March 4, heading north towards a landmass referred to as Biminy, when they spotted “an island” unfamiliar to them. The conquistador and crew did not initially establish settlement, choosing instead to make intermittent forays on land as they sailed around the southern tip of the peninsula. De León would eventually return to colonize in 1521, but succumbed to injuries suffered when his group was attacked by native tribes. Today, according to a 2007 Florida Senate Statute, at the governor’s discretion, April 2 may be designated a “state” day, with the week of March 27 to April 2 as “Pascua Florida Week.”

1519

Captain Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda, a Spanish explorer and cartographer, was in the employ of the Spanish Governor of Jamaica, when in March 1519, he led a fleet of four ships and a crew of 270 men from Jamaica, in search of a direct route to the East Indies. Exploring the coast along the Gulf of Mexico, between Florida and Mexico, Pineda had hoped to find a strait to the Pacific Ocean. The first Europeans to lay eyes on the Mississippi River and the territory of Texas, they claimed the find for Spain. But perhaps just as important a discovery, was that Florida, long thought to be an island, proved to be a peninsula. Captain Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda was killed in a1520 Haustec uprising in Mexico.

16th Century

The Tequesta moved to the mainland, present site of the City of Miami.

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