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The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, runs northward just 15 miles (24 km) off the coast, allowing the city's climate to stay warm and mild all year.
View from one of the higher points in Miami, west of downtown.
After Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba in 1959, many wealthy Cubans sought refuge in Miami, further increasing the population.
During the early 20th century, northerners were attracted to the city, and Miami prospered during the 1920s with an increase in population and infrastructure.
The legacy of Jim Crow was embedded in these developments. Leslie Quigg, did not hide the fact that he, like many other white Miami police officers, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
In the 1980s and 1990s, South Florida weathered social problems related to drug wars, immigration from Haiti and Latin America, and the widespread destruction of Hurricane Andrew.
Racial and cultural tensions were sometimes sparked, but the city developed in the latter half of the 20th century as a major international, financial, and cultural center.
Whatever their role in the city's growth, their community's growth was limited to a small space.
When landlords began to rent homes to African-Americans in neighborhoods close to Avenue J (what would later become NW Fifth Avenue), a gang of white men with torches visited the renting families and warned them to move or be bombed.
The highest undulations are found along the coastal Miami Rock Ridge, whose substrate underlies most of the eastern Miami metropolitan region.
The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially created barrier islands, the largest of which contains Miami Beach and South Beach.
The Miami area was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous Native American tribes.
The Tequestas occupied the area for a thousand years before encountering Europeans. In 1566 admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida's first governor, claimed the area for Spain.
Downtown Miami is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and many large national and international companies.