Overtown is the cultural name given to a predominantly African-American neighborhood located within the City of Miami. It is the second oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in Miami, dating back to 1896. Blacks from southern states and the Bahamas came to work on the railroads, and were segregated to an area originally known as “Colored Town.”
Adjacent to Downtown Miami, the geographic boundaries of Overtown are to the North, NW 20th Street; to the South, NW 5th Street; to the West, the Miami River and SR 836; and to the East, the East Coast Railway and NW 1st Avenue.
Overtown was once a thriving mixed-income community with some 50,000 residents, nicknamed the “Harlem of the South.” In the 1960’s Overtown’s glory began to fade. Several factors combined to change the face of Overtown, the displacement of nearly 80% of its people and subsequent destruction of the area’s business community, which once had more than 300 businesses; two highways were built which cut through the heart of the community, separating it into four quarters; desegration opened new opportunities for African-Americans who moved to other neighborhoods; “Urban renewal” resulted in the destruction of many older homes and buildings. Despite many well-intentioned efforts as renewal and revitalization in recent decades; nearby development and redevelopment within Overtown itself, the community has not regained its economic feet. To the general population of Miami, Overtown’s reputation has been one of high poverty, high unemployment, and high crime.
Today, Overtown has approximately 8,500 residents living in a two square mile radius. More than half of Overtown residents live below the poverty level; 34% are unemployed; a large percentage of youth are neither in school or working. The median household income is $14,634. Overtown is still a predominantly African-American community with a growing Hispanic population; it is yet too soon to fully known what challenges and opportunities the increased influx of newer residents may bring to the neighborhood. Health indicators for people in Overtown do not compare well with the rest of Miami (per 2008-2012 American Community Survey): reported hospitalizations for heart disease was three times the rate reported by Miami-Dade overall; the percent of low birth weight babies in Overtown was 10.8%, higher than the county-wide average 8.9%, and according to the Florida Department of Health. the area has one of the highest infant mortality rates in all of Miami-Dade County.
The community has many assets, most notably its people and their pride and commitment to the community. Local organizations are committed to serving the community and work together collaboratively. There are significant nearby new construction projects underway or being developed, such as the Miami WorldCenter (hotels, condos, restaurants, retail stores), All-Aboard Florida (high speed rail hub), and a proposed soccer stadium.