By Paul S. George
The Roads neighborhood is one of the city of Miami’s most attractive residential communities, and an exception to the malaise that many center city neighborhoods experienced in post-World War II America with the mass movement of residents to suburbia. Instead, the Roads, so named for its north-south street numbers bearing the “surname” “Roads,” has continued to witness rising property values amid a carefully maintained neighborhood, one ideally located in large, sprawling Miami-Dade County.
The Roads neighborhood stretches from South Miami Avenue on the south to S.W. 13th Street/S.W. 7th Avenue/S.W. 11th Street on the north, and S.W. 15th Road to S.W. 12th Avenue on its east-west axis. Many of the streets run diagonally through the neighborhood.
The Roads were originally part of the Polly Lewis Donation and the Jonathon Lewis Donation, Spanish land grants from the early 1800s. Later in that century, the Brickell family took title to the land comprising the future Roads.
The Roads was undeveloped piney woods until the outset of the 1920s, when family matriarch, Mary Brickell, sold a large tract of her holdings, comprising the eastern portion of today’s Roads to E. J. Holliman, who created the Holleman Park subdivision. This neighborhood, with its large masonry vernacular homes, sun decks, and porte coches, sold quickly.
Before her death in 1922, Mary Brickell planned the handsome Brickell Hammock subdivision immediately east of Holleman Park. Soon modest-sized, Mediterranean-style homes began arising there. In 1925, the peak year of the great Florida real estate boom, the Brickell Estates Company began platting its eponymous subdivision, which reaches to the western edge of the Roads.
The boom collapsed in 1926 and construction halted. Better times in the late 1930s brought another surge of building, while the expansive era following World War II accounted for additional development, especially along Coral Way, a thoroughfare that hosts tall apartments, institutions and businesses. Today, many of the modest homes of long ago have been replaced by large, Modernist style buildings in this lovely neighborhood.