A Brief History of Morningside

                                                                                                                  - adapted from the Historic Houses of Morningside

                                                                                                                                                      by Keith Edward Soto, A.I.A

      The area now comprising Morningside has a history as old as the City of Miami itself.  Today's Morningside occupies land at the southern boundary of Lemon City, a pioneering community once larger than the neighboring city of Miami.  Natural channels in Biscayne Bay provided access through shallow bay waters to a bight in the shoreline at what is now NE 61st Street.  Then called Lemon Avenue, the main street of Lemon City grew up around the dock located at this street's terminus at the bay.

      In 1922, a mostly undeveloped bayfront tract just to the south of Lemon Avenue and north of the then Miami city limits, was platted.  Bounded on the west by the railroad tracks, the south by present-day NE 50th Street and on the north by present-day NE 60th Street, this area, called Bay Shore,  was subdivided by the Bay Shore Investment Company.  These few blocks constituted the first three phases that would be developed by the company between 1922 and 1924.  By 1925 Bay Shore's limits had been extended southward to present-day 55th Terrace.  That year also saw the area of Bay Shore, as well as Lemon City, annexed into the City of Miami.

      James H. Nunnally, president of the Bay Shore Investment Company, envisioned Bay Shore as an exclusive residential community, planned for every modern convenience.  In designing Bay Shore, the architects and landscape designers adapted the best of the "garden city" movement of England, as well as contemporary suburban planning concepts, to this bayfront location...

      Although Bay Shore developed steadily during the boom years of the 1920s and even during the Great Depression, the area experienced its greatest building expansion between 1936 and 1942, with many of the district's finest houses built during this period.  In 1936, the neighborhood was enlarged; the blocks along present-day NE 55th Street and the south side of NE 55th Terrace were subdivided as Bay Shore Plaza by the company of Island, Incorporated.  Deed restrictions similar to those of Bay Shore guaranteed a continuity in architectural development.  Following the United States' entry into World War II, construction in the district, and the city as a whole, virtually stopped.  Building resumed after the War...[and expanded southwards towards the limits of Bay Point throughout Bay Shore Plaza and eastwards into a new development called Park Plaza.  The Slote Construction Company built many houses in these developments during the 1950s on what was said to have been a tropical hammock.]


NE 55th Terrace at Night

      The expansion of Biscayne Boulevard in the 1940s and 1950s divided the original Bay Shore tract, separating thearea to the west from that lying between the Boulevard and the Bay... [In 1953, the City built a state-of-the-art park on the bayfront and gave it a name, Morningside Park.  Morningside, properly the area west of Biscayne Boulevard in the mid-60s, began more and more to be associated with the area around the park.  Finally, in 1960, the Bay Shore, Bay Shore Plaza, and Park Plaza Homeowners Association, founded in 1942, revised its charter and changed its name to the Morningside Civic Association.  Later on, the blocks west of Biscayne Boulevard were "de-annexed".

      Morningside remains today one of Miami's most intact historic neighborhoods.  Realizing its historic and unique character, residents petitioned the City of Miami for recognition as a historic district in the early 1980s.  Many hours of hard work documenting the area's historic structures paid off, as in 1984 Morningside was designated as the City of Miami's first historic district.  The Morningside Historic District is comprised of the [120] houses located in the portion of Morningside from NE 55th Street to NE 60th Street, between Biscayne Boulevard and the Bay...[This was followed by the placement of the Bay Shore Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.]

Flagler Street in Miami 1935

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