By Paul S. George
Flagami, a portmanteau for W. Flagler Street and the Tamiami Canal, which runs through a portion of it, is a sprawling neighborhood bracketed by the Dolphin Expressway and the Blue Lagoon Lake on the north, Southwest Eighth Street on the south, Southwest/Northwest 45th Street on the east to the Palmetto Expressway on the west.
The origins of Flagami, a densely populated quarter, of post-World War II homes, office parks, strip shopping centers, apartments, condominiums, and hotels close to the Miami International Airport, which lies north of it, emerged in the early 1900s from Everglades drainage, an ambitious state campaign to create rich farmland from the swamp. Instead of farmland, however, residential subdivisions, platted as early as the heady days of the great real estate boom of the mid-1920s, but developed later, arose in its stead.
Flagami subdivisions, one, two, and three were platted nearly 100 years ago, offering wide streets, a “white way” of illumination, and, improbably, a navigable waterway to Biscayne bay “seven feet deep, 65 feet wide.” The veteran Miami real estate firm of Nelson-Bullock Co., based in downtown Miami, marketed this development with lavish ads and exaggerated descriptions pointing to a new el Dorado. The boom, however, collapsed in 1926, leaving these subdivisions undeveloped for two decades.
The expansive period following World War II catalyzed the explosive development of suburbs west of the City of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. Flagami was a product of that era, and the three subdivisions bearing the name Flagami, along with Alameda, Fairlawn and other, newer subdivisions comprise today’s Flagami.
Initial building centered on modest single family homes, with many early residents veterans of World War II, who were beneficiaries of the GI Bill of 1944. But as the decades receded and construction moved farther west in the direction of the Palmetto Expressway, single family homes were joined by new apartment buildings and condominium complexes.
The United States population census for 2010 found more than 51,000 residents in this heavily Hispanic community. The quarter has benefited from the nearby presence of expressways and major thoroughfares, which have eased travel to jobs, retail stores, and attractions for residents, as well as smore affordable housing in a county with a prohibitively expensive real estate market, ensuring its continued growth.