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Can you tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Visit the Everglades National Park just ten miles from Homestead and you probably will learn to do so first hand. This is the only natural habitat where both exist together. Homestead, near the southern-most tip of Florida, is in Miami Dade County near Florida City and just thirty miles south of Miami. It is the second oldest city in the area and was incorporated in 1913, fifteen years after the South Dade area opened to homesteaders. In those days, the only access was a path called the “Homesteaders Trail.”
About the Community
All that changed with Homestead in the early 1900s was the railroads. The city grew with the extension of the railroad to Key West from Miami and many of the railroad workers became the founders of Homestead. Local produce of fruits and vegetables were transported to the rest of the state, helping the economy grow. Today it is home to nearly 70 thousand multicultural people, with over 50% Hispanic, largely recent immigrants, and the rest divided almost equally between White and African Americans. Over the years, Homestead has preserved its “small-town” atmosphere, while offering all the urban amenities, and remains a great place to live and raise a family.
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Homestead has numerous parks with outstanding sports and recreational facilities. The city’s motto is “The Gateway to Everglades and Biscayne National Parks” with Biscayne National Park to its east and Everglades National Park to its west. The churches in the city are of various denominations and welcome visitors to join the local congregations. The excellent schooling system provides education to the youngsters and there are several centers of higher education, ranging from technical to pastoral colleges.
Vicinity of Homestead
In addition to the crocs and gators, the subtropical wilderness of Everglades National Park is also home to the ibis, eagle, and manatee. It spans the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and most of Florida Bay. The vast mangrove forests and watery sawgrass prairies are part of the only subtropical preserve in North America, though both temperate and tropical plant communities exist. These include mangrove and cypress swamps, pinelands, and hardwood hammocks. Large wading birds, such as the roseate spoonbill, wood stork, great blue heron, and a variety of egrets abound. The wetlands of Everglades National Park are a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.
ArtSouth, a not-for-profit Artist’s community in Homestead occupies a 3 1/2 acre campus with a Fine Arts building and a Fine Crafts and Sculpture building. It aims to provide affordable working, living, learning, teaching, and exhibition space for emerging and established artists. The historic Sanctuary regularly holds concerts, theatrical performances and dance performances. Homestead is a city with a rich history and good facilities but until the emergence of ArtSouth, lacked much cultural activity. The presence of the numerous artists’ studios and the educational programs, communication, outreach and interaction with the locals by the artists’ community has mutually benefited the citizens and the artists while enriching and revitalizing Homestead’s historic downtown area.
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