Homestead, Florida is a city of 70,000 located about 35 miles southwest of Miami, and is in the middle of a unique agricultural area called the Redlands.
The Everglades begins just west of the city. Key Largo is 25 miles south on U.S. Highway 1.
The Homestead name came about when the Florida East Coast Railway was being extended from Miami to Key West.
The Redlands area had been opened up for homesteading in 1898, and Henry Flagler's railroad came through in 1904.
Since the construction camp at the end of the railroad had no real name, materials were delivered to "Homestead Country". That got shortened to Homestead, and the name stuck.
The construction of the epic railroad to the Keys required a lot of labor, and the area began to grow. The City of Homestead was founded in 1913.
The city grew steadily but the growth was impacted by the crash of the Florida land boom of the 1920s and two major hurricanes in 1926 and 1935.
World War Two resulted in a former Pan Am airfield being enlarged and converted into Homestead Army Air Field.
The base suffered hurricane damage in 1945 near the end of the war and was closed but was reopened again in 1953 as Homestead Air Force Base.
The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 brought change to the Redlands area around Homestead and three missile sites were quickly built in farm land outside the city.
Homestead suffered a direct hit from massive Hurricane Andrew on August 24, 1992. The city was nearly devastated.
Thousands of mobile homes, most inhabited by Hispanic farm workers, were destroyed by the hurricane.
Homestead Air Force Base, which then had 8,000 employees, was almost completely destroyed.
Many thousands of people were homeless and unemployed, and temporary camps were built all around the area by FEMA.
Looting broke out, crooks posing as rebuilding contractors were swindling people out of their money by taking the cash and running.
Many of the old Homestead buildings were gone forever, and a lot of people actually thought that the town would cease to exist.
It appeared to many that the city was destined to disappear into the dustbin of history.
Alex Muxo was the Homestead city manager, and he and others quickly mobilized to rescue the shattered town.
Muxo contacted local businessman Jeb Bush, who called his father, the President of the United States. Things began to happen.
The formed a team known as "We Will Rebuild" to help direct the redevelopment of south Miami-Dade County.
The team was comprised of powerful community leaders put together in part by the late Alvah Chapman, former president of the Miami Herald.
The entire Miami-Dade community was mobilized into helping to rebuild the City of Homestead. It took many years, but their efforts paid off.
Downtown Homestead has a nice gentrified feel to it. There are plenty of good restaurants in the area.
Some of the best Mexican food in Florida can be found in Homestead.
Because of its location, Homestead has become a large bedroom community for its huger neighbor to the north, Miami.
When Andrew slammed into Homestead in 1992, its population was 30,000. Now, in 2021, it is home to more than 70,000. That is a miraculous recovery.
The nearby Villages of Homestead is a large residential development that has seen tremendous growth since 1992.
Many other developments have sprouted up in the area because of the scarcity of land nearer to Miami.
The town now has modern schools, hospitals, office complexes, and shopping centers. It is home to the popular Homestead-Miami Speedway and Schnebly Redlands Winery.
Those of us who saw Homestead in the immediate days after Hurricane Andrew are still amazed at the miraculous rebirth of this little city.