By Paul S. George
The Morningside neighborhood lies in the northeast sector of the City of Miami. The city’s first historic district (1984), this gorgeous community of Mediterranean and Art Deco- styled homes stretches from the northern portion of N.E. 53rd Street to N.E. 60th Street, from Biscayne Bay and N.E. 7th Avenue to Biscayne Boulevard.
Before there was a Morningside neighborhood, there was a thick hammock covering the area. In the nineteenth century homesteaders farmed there. In the early 1920s, James Nunnally, a wealthy candy manufacturer, purchased the area representing today’s historic district, as well as property west of today’s Biscayne Boulevard, and platted an upscale community called Bay Shore. Mediterranean homes dotted lots looking out over tree-lined streets, while that part of Morningside south of N.E. 53rd remained undeveloped.
Bay Shore was part of the great real estate boom of the mid-1920s, which collapsed in the second half of the decade. Better times led, in the late 1930s, to a surge of new construction in the Art Deco motif for the neighborhood. In the expansive period following World War II, the area immediately to the south to N.E. 50th Terrace were developed, with many of the homes designed in the Miami Modern (“Mi Mo”) and Florida Ranch stylessss. Known today as Morningside South, it also includes Morningside Park, a lush 43-acre oasis with many amenities, which opened in 1953.
While many older Miami neighborhoods suffered from the postwar flight of residents to the rising suburbs beyond, Morningside, as it was now called, proved the exception as many of its residents resisted the pull to leave. Instead, they restored their homes, planted additional trees, and banded together in their quest for historic designation. Since then, Morningside has become one of Miami’s most attractive neighborhoods with homeowners zealously maintaining their properties.