Define Miami, Mayiami
By Verdina Roka
Non-locals tend to define Miami as the “City of Miami”, the largest South Florida city that gets most of the media attention. However, an accurate definition of Miami should take into consideration the ten independently governed cities that have “Miami” in their names. These ten “Miami” cities are scattered among more cities, townships, and communities that do not use “Miami” in their names. Thus, as in any large urban area, the boundaries seem to all run together. The simplified custom is to call the entire area Miami, or MIA for short.
Locals therefore generally define Miami as the urbanized area south of Fort Lauderdale and north of Homestead, with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Everglades swamp on the west. When referring to a specific area within this metropolis, the specific city name is used. It is common practice, even, to use “Miami” in the return address when the zip code is for the city of “Cutler Ridge”, for example.
The 2010 census ranked the “Miami urbanized area” as the 4th most populous urbanized area in the United States (with a “recorded” population of 5,502,379).
How did the name “Miami” come to such popular usage? The largest, most unmistakable, bulls-eye lake in Florida of 730 square miles, Lake Okeechobee, previously had the Indian name of “Mayaimi”, meaning “big water”. Before drainage canals pulled the lake down to current levels, it connected to what became known as the Miami River.
The many cities of Miami are echoing the historic name of the big lake and the river that once connected to it.
Read more about Miami at at Wikipedia, Miami