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Frame shotgun houses in Overtown

Miami’s early growth and development relied on the labor of African-American and Caribbean workers to build the railroads and service the hotels that brought tourists to the region. "Colored Town" (later called Overtown) developed just west of the tracks of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast railroad, which reached Miami in 1896. Adjacent to downtown Miami, Colored Town was one of the oldest black neighborhoods in the city and became a thriving business, entertainment, and cultural district for Blacks in a city shaped by racial segregation.

These wood-frame or "shotgun" houses, as they were popularly called, reflect the style of much of early black housing in Miami. The shotgun house developed from West African and West Indian building traditions, and was brought to the United States by black West Indians migrating to New Orleans during the Haitian Revolution.

The style was well-suited to a tropical climate, and also fit within the narrow lots allocated for black housing in many Southern cities. These houses were photographed by Miami photographer G.W. Romer during a survey of housing conditions among blacks in the 1930s and 1940s. Eventually, many of them would be destroyed during several phases of urban renewal that ultimately destroyed the heart of Overtown and its black business district.

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