Little Haiti is a neighborhood in the city of Miami, in the state of Florida, in the United States. Lemon City, Little River, and Edison are some of the historical names for the area. It is home to a large number of Haitian immigrant people, as well as immigrants from other parts of the Caribbean region.
Little Haiti is a well-known neighborhood in which Haitian exiles have settled. The neighborhood is distinguished by its French–Creole designations, as well as by its street activity, restaurants, art galleries, dance, music, and theater performances, as well as by its family-owned businesses and other cultural activities.
Little Haiti has blossomed into a colorful beacon in Miami's arts communities, thanks to the diverse and varied cultural backgrounds of the Caribbean immigrants who brought life to the neighborhood. In over a decade, modest businesses such as well-known record stores, kitsch bars, and authentic eateries have gradually made their way into the neighborhood, establishing their own unique patchwork among the already separate neighborhoods of Little River and the newly christened Little Haiti.
On the corner of N Miami Avenue and 62nd Street, there is a 13-foot bronze statue of General Toussaint L'Ouverture, known as the "Father of the Haitian Revolution."
For more than a century, the neighborhood that is today known as Little Haiti was known as Lemon City. Following the Civil War, a small group of people settled near Biscayne Bay, north of the Miami River, squatting on unclaimed territory. The squatters finally petitioned for homestead permits for the land they were squatting on, and some were granted them. It wasn't long before a hamlet was established, complete with a post office called "Motto."
By 1893, the name "Lemon City" had supplanted "Motto" as the community's official name. As early as 1890, a school had opened in Lemon City, which also had multiple businesses and a newspaper, in addition to port facilities on Biscayne Bay. With the completion of the Florida East Coast Railway's extension to Miami in 1896, Miami swiftly surpassed Lemon City in importance. Being a short drive away from Princeton, it's a quick ride for anyone to get to!
The moniker Little Haiti was coined by Viter Juste, a Haitian businessman, activist, and community leader who hails from the country's capital. According to Jean-Claude Exulien, a retired history professor who has known Juste since 1977 and who has been a friend of his since 1977, Juste published an article in the Miami Herald in which he first referred to the neighborhood as "Little Port-au-Prince," marking the first time the term was used. Although editors at the Miami Herald thought the moniker "Little Port-au-Prince" was too long, they decided to use the shorter word "Little Haiti" in the headline.
The City of Miami commissioners voted in favor of designating Little Haiti as an official neighborhood in May 2016, despite the opposition of a number of groups, including historians, African-Americans, and Bahamians. Its boundaries overlap with the historic Lemon City and Edison, which were founded by Bahamian immigrants before Miami was established.