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Miami Circle Park Opens a Decade After Discovery

February 24, 2011 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 3 Comments

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After almost 13 years and $27 million dollars, we still don’t know what the Miami Circle looks like.

But at least we now have something to show those fools who claim Miami has no history.

Well, it’s really not much to show; a neatly manicured circle of limestone rocks at the mouth of the Miami River in a park inaugurated Wednesday; a small patch of land more visible to passing boats than passing cars.

But the Miami Circle is older than the Liberty Bell, so take that history snobs, even if the actual circle does remain underground to protect it from the elements – and the graffiti that would surely have afflicted it had it remained exposed.

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Above: Native American spiritualist Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez casts a spell among attendee’s during Wednesday’s ceremony. She has cast a spell over the Miami Circle every week since it was unearthed in 1998.


History

Discovered almost by accident in 1998, the Miami Circle is estimated to be about 2,000 years old and believed to have been some sort of ceremonial site for the Tequesta Indians, the original inhabitants of Miami, who were discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.

It is from the Tequestas where we get the name Miami. Or more precisely, Mayaimi, meaning “big water,” “open water” or “sweet water,” a reference to the Miami River, which back then, was a rapid flowing body of water connecting the Everglades to Biscayne Bay.

By the time developers dredged the river in the late 19th century to bring the railroad down here, the Tequestas had died off more than 200 years earlier.

And as they developed the land around it, constructing buildings and houses along the river, they emptied sewers into the river, polluting the once thriving river, which had already come to a standstill. And some argue that developers have been defecating on our city’s history ever since.

They developed the swampland so fast that Miami seemingly became a city overnight, hence the nickname, The Magic City.

Discovery

It was through yet another wave of development that unearthed the Miami Circle.

In 1998, construction workers were demolishing a 1950s apartment building to make room for another luxury high-rise condo.

The developer, Michael Baumann, was trying to rush the project without going through the required archeological field survey.

Bob Carr, who was director of the Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Division at the time, pressed the issue and began excavating the property, eventually discovering the Miami Circle - a 38-foot diameter of limestone marked by 24 holes.

Baumann wasn’t about to let an important historical discovery halt his project, so he kindly offered to move the Miami Circle to another area, an idea that Miami then-Mayor Joe Carollo supported, who some argue did his fair share of defecating on our city.

The county eventually sued and was able to halt the project.

Baumann, who had purchased the property for $8.5 million, offered to sell it to the county for $50 million, but eventually felt charitable and accepted $26.7 million.

Dedication

On Wednesday, politicians, archeologists and a Native American spiritualist were on hand to dedicate the opening of the new Miami Circle park on the south side of the mouth of the Miami River.

It might not be grandiose, especially compared to the high-rises surrounding it, but it is where the magic all started in this crazy city of ours.

Now the challenge is whether we can maintain it without defecating all over it.

For once, let’s not let history repeat itself.

Photos by Carlos Miller. Video produced by History Miami.

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Above: Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, standing next to his daughter Raquel, who was elected to the school board last year, prepares to present an award to Native American spiritualist Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez

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Above: Native American spiritualist Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez holds the award presented to her by Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. Archeologist Bob Carr, who played the initial role in preserving the Miami Circle, stands in the background.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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3 Comments on

"Miami Circle Park Opens a Decade After Discovery"

L Condor Mejia says:

Yes we were part of this mystery and great to finally see the promise kept!

Posted on 02/25/2011 at 2:20 PM

mrs w-Baumann says:

Im commenting in hopes that i discovered an old but actively tended to article. My question is, where do morals, ethics, and respect for the existence & history of human kind, esp giving honor and acknowledgement to our founding ancestors of florida, or wherever. The following comment is a pure and factual statement albeit the appearance of a slanderous it is not.. Ivd had the misfortune of encountering the alleged owner,Michael Baumann, who hostily took over ownership from his father. Not only does he have future political plans, but as his parents age and suffer alone, after 20 years of no contact, also brother of Dr. Jeffrey Baumann,  billionIonaire on his own and close confidant, recently opened a drug recovery centers for doctors,pilots,& more, director operations youngest brotber, records sealed,  a recovering addiict,also leaving behind an ill, aging brother crippled, outcasted and left to die facing eviction,awaiting government support or death from neglect, all due to greed over this land that is being disgraced by fighting to build upon and erase history, if family is left to rot, does anyone care about mankind in lieu of money? Sad but true. This brother participated in building for over 18 years, cut off and left to die. I know, im his wife crying out to deaf ears. Please help as i support preserving historical sites of all kinds and value human life.

Posted on 07/23/2013 at 12:41 PM

Tor Northman says:

The Miami Circle is no mystery! Here in Norway they are found all over in connection with rivers and waterfalls—must be hundreds or thousands just in this country. In Norwegian they are called “jettegryter” (plural) or “jettegryte” (sing). They are made by river water with small stones trapped and circling around for 100s of years. Picture Google “jettegryte” and you all see many many of them!
I see that also North America have “jettegryter”—they are obviously called “potholes” here. So with a picture googling of f.ex “riverbeds potholes” you can see many interesting examples also in Northern America. Riverbed potholes comes in all sizes, forms and shapes, but they are not man-made! It’s Mother Nature who made them, and it’s probably gonna take 100s and 1000s of years to make them. Ice-age melting is also mentioned to cause them.
Tor, Oslo, Norway

Posted on 10/04/2013 at 9:00 PM

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