Episode 67: Miami, FL

Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 67: Miami, FL

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Now for the podcast:


The city of Miami is located at the southern tip of Florida on the East Coast, or Eastern Seaboard, of the US. Just west of the city is the Everglades, a tropical wetlands nature preserve. Before Europeans arrived, the native Tequesta people lived there for over 1,000 years. Miami’s name comes from their language.

In 1513, Spanish explorer and conquistador Ponce de Leon led the first official European expedition to the area. A popular myth says he was looking for the legendary Fountain of Youth. Although the Spanish settlers tried to convert the Tequestas to Christianity, the result was that most of the tribe died from diseases brought by the settlers.

About 200 years later, when the US government killed or displaced almost all native peoples in an effort to expand its land holdings, many people from different tribes fled to south Florida. Together they became the Seminole Tribe, which still exists today.

The Spanish held the area until 1819 when it was bought by the US government. After this, the Seminoles waged three wars against the US but were not successful. In 1842, the Village of Miami was founded on the Miami River.

What really allowed Miami to grow was a railroad built by Henry Flagler, completed in 1896. He also built streets, utilities, and a resort hotel. Water was drained from the Everglades to create land to build on. Miami quickly became a tourist city and a retreat for wealthy and famous people. This pattern has been repeated many times in Miami’s history.

Today, in addition to being a major tourist destination, Miami continues to be an important port, with many freight and cruise ships coming and going daily. A well known area of Miami is Little Havana, a center of Cuban immigrant culture. Since Cuba is only 90 miles to the south, Cuban people have been immigrating to Miami since 1959 when Fidel Castro took over. If you ever visit Miami, you must try a Cuban sandwich!

Ten miles east of Miami, on a barrier island, is the separate city of Miami Beach. You may have heard of South Beach, which is the southern part of the island. It is known for nightclubs, expensive hotels, celebrities, and partying. The beautiful Art Deco Historic District is in South Beach.

There are several other cities in the Miami area that you might hear of, including Homestead, Hialeah, Hollywood, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach. You can reach all of these cities by car within an hour from Miami. The main road is Interstate 95, which extends all the way along the Eastern Seaboard of the US to Canada. Or you can take state highway A1A, which reaches from South Beach to Cape Canaveral in Florida and travels along the barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean.

You may hear the term ‘Miami-Dade’, which is the county where Miami and Miami Beach are located. It is also the name of Miami’s airport.

Miami’s climate is tropical: very hot, humid summers and warm winters, the warmest in the continental US. Typically, there is a thunderstorm almost every afternoon in summer, but they don’t last long. Hurricanes are also possible from June through November, which have destroyed buildings in the area from time to time throughout its history. But Miami always rebuilds.

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This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.