By Paul S. George
Coral Gate is an early post World War II neighborhood resting between Southwest Twenty-first and Sixteenth Streets and Southwest Thirty-second and Thirty-Seventh (Douglas Road) Avenues. Across the street from its western segment stands the beautiful 1920s development of Coral Gables. Long before its development, the area comprising Coral Gate was coveted by developers because of its ideal location, which placed it close to many vibrant neighborhoods, shopping and entertainment offerings, and even schools.
The boom era following World War II resulted in new developments arising in many parts of Greater Miami. One of the most attractive areas for development was the 127 acre Clark Estate incorporating all of today’s Coral Gate while stretching south to Coral Way. David H. Clark, its owner and a wealthy patent medicine manufacturer, had owned the property since the early 1920s, and had resisted lucrative offers to sell it. In 1946, Clark fought off in court an attempt to condemn the property through eminent domain to build a new Orange Bowl stadium.
In 1948, veteran Miami developer David Woolin purchased the property for $778,000 with plans of developing a self-contained neighborhood there. The area representing the extreme southern portion of the Clark Estate would, host by the mid-1950s, a large Sears and Roebuck store that became an area landmark, after earlier serving as an occasional venue for the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Building commenced in 1948, and the first properties, simple masonry homes, offering two bedrooms and one bath, and without air conditioning, went on sale in 1950 for $10,800. Ultimately, Coral Gate consisted of 463 homes spread across 110 acres of land. In the community’s early years, at least half of the residents were Jewish. Many of these and other early residents attended a forty-year reunion and reminisced about the closeness of the community, of unlocked doors, of football and baseball games and skating in the tree-shaded streets.
In recent decades, Coral Gate has become a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, while many of the homes have received major additions; others have been replaced by large Modernist buildings. Today’s compact neighborhood is ninety percent Hispanic with a population of more than 13,600, and it remains a cozy, close community.