What we know as the City of South Miami today began as an enterprising settlement in the late 1890s. Wilson A. Larkins was 36 years old when his wife and five children arrived in Fort Dallas (Miami) in 1896. It’s from here that he built a home and general store at what we know today as Cocoplum Circle.
A leader in the settlement community, the town was called “Larkins” and in July 1899, the post office was created. When Henry Flagler’s railroad continued south from Miami to Key West along route US1, commerce moved and centered around the Sunset Drive and US1 area. The City of South Miami was incorporated on June 25, 1927. In our town center, other prominent families have historic buildings and streets named for them: Dorn Avenue, the Shelley Building, among others.
MID 20th CENTURY
In the mid-1950s, South Miami was at the crossroads between town and country. It was where you could buy hay for your horse and a tux for a social event. The economy was booming post World War II: a bank was established, the First National Bank of South Miami, new buildings were constructed, a hospital established (South Miami Hospital) and the community prospered. The Holsum Baking Company, which moved to South Miami from Homestead in the 1930s was an important contributor to South Miami’s growth. Many long-time residents recall waking up to the olfactory stimulation of bread being baked at the Holusm bakery on the corner of Sunset Drive and Red Road.
The 1990s ushered in a renaissance for our town center. The City Commission approved a “Hometown Plan” in 1992, which was to guide future development in the business district. As a demonstration project for the plan, SW 59 Avenue (now designated “Dorn Avenue”) underwent a major transformation. The new regulations allowed for outdoor dining and other pedestrian-friendly amenities in new construction. The failed Bakery Centre project (built on the 9 acre Holsum property site) gave way to another development, The Shops at Sunset Place, a retail/entertainment center. Investments in the community blossomed and new construction followed. Plaza 57, a mixed-use (office/retail) on 57th Court was completed in 2005. Across US1, the Valencia apartments were built; a multi-purpose community center was constructed, and three years ago, our infrastructure parking needs were met with the construction of the private/public Municipal Garage on 73rd Street. In 2009, the Red Road Commons apartments welcomed their first occupants.