Overtown is a historically African-American community in the
City of Miami. As Miami, was developing around 1910, the city’s
black residents were allowed to purchase land only in one
designated quarter of Miami’s municipal limits, which became
known as Colored Town. The name Overtown came from people
referring that they were going “over town” to this neighborhood.
Overtown is one of Miami’s original neighborhoods, where African Americans settled in the early 20th Century and built churches, restaurants, residences, nightclubs and theaters.
Today, the total population of Overtown is approximately 9,000 persons and is predominately African American (74%).
Overtown is home to several historic churches and landmarks including Greater Bethel AME, Mt. Zion, St. John Baptist and St. Agnes church Some of the neighborhood historic landmarks are the Lyric Theater (the first legitimate theater built in Miami), Dorsey House (reconstructed home of the first black millionaire in Miami D.A.Dorsey), Old Black Police Precinct (home of the only black courthouse and police station in Miami) and L.E. Thomas Building (home of the first black magistrate in Miami).
Overtown is the site of the Overtown Transit Village that will encompass a new Miami Dade office complex (341,000), retail space, and a large parking structure adjacent to the Overtown Metrorail station. Nearly 1,800 employees are expected to work in the village. The center is expected to open in 2006 and estimated to cost 45 million dollars with the county paying the expense. In addition, there is an Overtown Folk life Village which is a four block mixed-use cultural marketplace created by the Black Archives Foundation and it is located just north of the Transit area in the heart of Overtown. Initial development of the Folk life Village is underway with the multi million dollar expansion of the Lyric Theater which is expected to be completed in 2006.
The City of Miami has designated NW 3rd Avenue Business Corridor as “The Historic Overtown Business Corridor” wherein the City in tandem with the Community Redevelopment Agency has begun to make façade improvements to the commercial corridor. The corridor is well known for its African American restaurants including People’s BBQ, Jackson’s Soul Food, Two Guy’s restaurant and Bertha’s Hometown. Currently, the Overtown NET office in tandem with the Overtown Merchants Association has conducted several meetings with businesses along the corridor seeking to expand and attract capital investment. Overtown NET continues to work with community partners to encourage economic development, improve housing conditions and promote cultural pride.
Overtown is now on the threshold of becoming a destination of choice for South Florida residents. During the next few years, approximately 2,000 housing units will be built in the neighborhood and the Overtown renaissance will continue to strengthen existing businesses and institutions with careful attention to its history and culture.