Special Report

Florida Crossroads

Gentrification in Overtown

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By Bessie Liu & Thomas Hengge

Overtown is a historically black district in Miami, Florida. Home to one of the first and only black police precincts in the state, the neighborhood used to be called “Coloredtown” and was a thriving black cultural center often visited by renowned performers and artists such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. This all changed in the 1960’s when the government decided to build a highway right through the heart of Overtown. Many families were forcefully displaced.

Today, because of climate change and rising sea levels, developers are seeking land in higher areas of Miami which are not prone to flooding. This includes Overtown, an inland neighborhood close to the city center. As a result, residents of Overtown are being cornered out of their community by the creeping cost of living. In order to make sure the history of Overtown is not being forgotten, many local non for profit and community organizations are working together to preserve what is left of the once thriving black neighborhood.


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