By Paul S. George
Buena Vista was an early homesteading community founded on the shores of Biscayne Bay in the late nineteenth century. Even earlier, this area was part of the homesteads of William H. Gleason, the notorious political boss of Dade County, and E. L. White. Its informal boundaries stretched, over time, from the Bay west to today’s N. Miami Avenue, and, in a north-south axis, from today’s Northeast Thirty-sixth Street to Forty-eighth Street.
The arrival of the Florida East Coast Railway in Miami in 1896 prompted the movement of the early Buena Vista community west to the railroad tracks and beyond to today’s North Miami Avenue. Buena Vista’s population grew rapidly as farmers grew a wide variety of crops that were easily transported to market via a small railroad depot near Northwest Thirty-sixth Street. In 1915, the West Dixie Highway entered the community linking it now by automobile to points north and south.
The 1920s marked the beginnings of a complete community with the rise of a bustling commercial district, including the presence of interior design businesses, along both Northeast Second Avenue and Northeast Fortieth Street, as well as the rise of a beautiful residential neighborhood in the Biltmore subdivision–which had earlier hosted a bountiful pineapple grove–between Northeast Forty-first and Forty-ninth Streets.
While the southern portion of Buena Vista up to Northeast Thirty-eighth Street was annexed by the City of Miami in 1913, the portion north of it to Northeast Forty-eighth Street became in, 1924, the incorporated Town of Buena Vista. In 1925, however, the onrushing city of Miami annexed that municipality. By the middle decades of the twentieth century, Buena Vista was impacted negatively by the widespread flight of many of its residents to the suburbs. Many properties suffered thereafter from neglect; others fell through eminent domain to the construction of State Road 112, which runs through the southern portion of the community.
In recent decades, however, the influx of young homeowners, historic preservationists, and new businesses in a revitalized Miami Design District have brought radical changes in the fortunes of Buena Vista. Today, the community hosts a local historic district in East Buena Vista, beautifully restored homes looking out over tree-shaded streets, splendid art museums, upscale fashion stores and restaurants.