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The Magic in Magic City

Updated: Jul 8


Miami is known as the Magic City not for obvious reasons like its beaches, unique vistas, cotton candy sunsets, or even its singular approach to hospitality and cultural engagement. It is known as the Magic City because of its impressive and unprecedented growth from the very start.  


Rumor has it that in 1894, Julia Tuttle, known as the Mother of Miami, experienced one of the coldest winters ever recorded in the sunshine state known as the Great Freeze. Temperatures dropped to 18 degrees Fahrenheit, and many of the city's crops were failing to yield a profit. However, Tuttle was one of the sole citrus growers in the area and to convince her powerful friend Henry Flagler of the promise of the Magic City she sent him a single perfectly formed orange. Once he held that orange in his hand, he saw the possibilities of what could be and joined Tuttle in her quest to put Miami on the map.   


Many have often mistakenly believed the city earned its moniker because of our eternal summer. However, the city was founded in 1896. Once described by Al Capone, as “the garden of America, the sunny Italy of the new world, where life is good and abundant.” But where did the name come from? Ironically enough, the person credited with giving the city this nickname had never visited Miami before describing it as magical. Ethan Vernor Blackman, who was asked by none other than Henry Flagler, was working as a freelance writer when asked to draft an article about the city for a magazine. The only information Flagler provided Blackman with was a letter with the blueprint and pictures. At the time, the city had no name.  


In an interview in 1925, Blackman stated, “In looking over the material, I got so enthusiastic over the possibilities of the city that bordered on the Gulf stream and faced the broad waters of Biscayne Bay, that I referred to it as the Magic City.” This nickname was included in the original article published.  


He was again asked about the importance of the nickname and said, “That saying about ‘what is in a name’ was all right for the days before national advertising. Maybe a rose by any other name might have as good a perfume, but a city called ‘Pickneyville, the Punk City’ would have difficulty in attracting tourists. In a country that sells soap or builds cities by slogans, it is mighty important to get the right one to start with, because once it gets attention, it is there to stay.  


What most people did not realize, and still do not, is that it was named the Magic City not just because of its potential but because of its stirring and unrivaled growth. Miami was the fastest growing city in the United States for 3 out of 10 of the decades of the 20th Century: 1910s, 1920s, and 1940s.  


In 2017, it was ranked by the U.S. Census Bureau as the 2nd fastest growing city in the U.S. In 2024, Axios published an article documenting the current fastest growing cities in the United States, and again Miami found itself on that list. According to U.S. Census Bureau Data, Miami is still one of the fastest growing major cities. It is ranked #10 nationally, seeing a population growth of around 500,000 new residents between 2022 and 2023.    

It is safe to say that the magic in Magic City remains strong. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for one of the most diverse, unique, and dynamic burgeoning cities and the only one to be founded by a woman.  


Fun Fact: Florida more broadly has 13 of the 15 fastest growing cities in the U.S. The future looks bright in the Sunshine State.  



Learn About Julia Tuttle 

Learn About Henry Flagler

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