By Paul S. George
The name “Edgewater,” which describes the neighborhood northeast of downtown and along the shores of Biscayne Bay, is unique because its moniker applies to both an early Miami neighborhood and a contemporary quarter resting on the same site. Edgewater stands roughly between Northeast 15th Street and 36th Street and, from east to west, between the bay and beautiful Biscayne Boulevard.
Edgewater’s beginnings can be traced to the homestead era of the late 19th century, when families like the Oxars settled in the southeast portions of the future neighborhood. Not till the early 1900s, a period of dynamic growth for Miami, was the quarter called Edgewater. At that time, new residents pushed out beyond today’s Northeast Eleventh Street, the city’s northern boundary, and a series of subdivisions, such as Miramar, arose northeast of it. By the boom-era of the 1920s, Edgewater stretched to Northeast Thirty-sixth Street and beyond, and its grand thoroughfare, North Bayshore Drive, was graced with grand homes in the Beaux Arts and neo-Classical styles.
Over time, beautiful stores, restaurants, nightclubs, professional offices, and apartments appeared along the east side of newly-completed Biscayne Boulevard. Well into the post-World War II era, Edgewater combined the elements of grand residential quarters and commercial structures. However, the pull of suburbia and rising crime in the center city caused many residents to flee the neighborhood in the 1970s and beyond. Blocks of venerable homes fell to the wrecking ball as real estate investors anticipated new development opportunties, but little happened in that realm.
The building of the Omni Hotel and a massive, enclosed mall in the second half of the 1970s, led many to believe that the neighborhood would experience a turnaround. Their appearance also provided the quarter with a new name: the Omni neighborhood. But the mall failed after two decades, while the hotel has undergone changes in ownership and names.
A new day dawned in the early 2000s with the completion of the nearby Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and the onset of two building booms, which have produced a broad array of posh high rise residential buildings, radically transforming the neighborhood and providing it with a new/old name: Edgewater.