In tracing the social, cultural, economic, and political circumstances that led to Miami’s municipal incorporation in 1896, this chapter unearths the queer origins of the city’s urban frontier. It argues that Miami’s identity and traditions were constantly in flux, imbued by numerous effects from the city’s colonial past, its roots in the U.S. South and North, and a multitude of Caribbean influences. The chapter shows how the establishment of Miami’s segregated and racialized sex and vice district was a product of conscientious, albeit uneven, urban design. An examination of criminal records, municipal documents, and newspaper reports reveals how Miami’s queer frontier took shape through a prism of competing colonial exchanges, transgressive sex acts, interracial encounters, and working-class vices. Urban boosters promoted the instant city of Miami through several countervailing visions: the natural environment and the urban landscape, the traditional and the modern, and the respectable and subversive.
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