By Paul S. George
Palm Grove, the City of Miami’s largest residential historic district, is bounded on the north by the meandering Little River near Northeast 77th Street, and Northeast 58th Street on the south; from the rear property lines of buildings on the west side of bustling Biscayne Boulevard on the east to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks on the west. Interestingly, Palm Grove includes, in its southern environs, a portion of Lemon City, the most populated community on the southeast Florida mainland in the late 1800s.
A historic district since 2009, this neighborhood of eclectic architecture showcases the most prominent design styles from the past century in its mix of single-family and multi-family dwellings. Nearby are the local historic districts of Morningside, Bayside, Miami Modern (MiMo), and the Biscayne Boulevard Historic District.
The origins of Palm Grove date to the early 1920s, with the platting of five residential subdivisions in a broad area of undeveloped land and farm land. The rush of construction was emblematic of that era, which featured the great real estate boom of the mid-1920s. The southernmost subdivision represented the western edges of James H. Nunnally’s Bay Shore subdivision, known today as Morningside.
Developers brought imagination and important amenities to their development, with shade trees, broad streets, and advanced infrastructure. Many of the area’s most prominent architects, including Robert Law Weed, L. Murray Dixon, H. George Fink, and Richard Kiehnel produced fine examples of Mediterranean, Art Deco, Minimal Traditional, Florida Ranch and Mid-Century modern homes.
The first rush of development ended with the collapse of the boom in 1926. For years after, new construction was at a minimum until the late 1930s, when improved economic conditions triggered another wave of construction, halted by World War II, but humming again in the expansive period following the conflict. By the mid-1950s, most of Palm Grove had been developed.
From its beginnings as a residential community, Palm Grove has attracted a wide mix of residents of blue collar and middle class backgrounds, along with prominent business people and professionals. Today’s neighborhood is considered among the most affordable within the city of Miami, attracting a wide array of progressive residents drawn to it by its affordability as well as its unique sense of community.