Widely recognized as the only female founder of a major U.S. city, Julia Tuttle was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1848. Tuttle first saw southern Florida when she visited her father, who moved there as a homesteader, in 1875. After her husband died in 1886, Tuttle decided to move to southern Florida where she bought several hundred acres of land near the Miami River. As Tuttle looked around her, she realized the area would never prosper unless it could be accessed by railroads.
Tuttle met with Henry M. Flagler, a multi-millionaire who was going to extend his railroad south along Florida’s east coast to develop cities and resorts along the way. Tuttle wanted him to extend his railroad to her area. After negotiations, Flagler agreed to do so in exchange for hundreds of acres of land from Tuttle and Tuttle’s neighbors William and Mary Brickell who were the other main landowners in the area. Flagler also agreed to lay the foundations for a city on either side of the Miami River and to build a large hotel. The first train arrived in what became Miami city on April 13, 1896.
When Tuttle moved to the Miami area, she believed that the area would become a great city, one that would become a center of trade for the United State with South America. Tuttle’s foresight proved correct and Miami grew into a major U.S. city.
- “Julia Tuttle,” Information Please/Pearson Education, 2005, www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0921284.html (15 December 2005).
- Paul S. George, “Miami: One Hundred Years of History,” South Florida History Magazine 24, no 2 (1996) www.historical-museum.org/history/sfhm242.htm (15 December 2005).
- Weatherford, Doris. Milestones: A Chronology of American Women’s History (New York: Facts on File, Inc, 1997), 156.