Southampton, Hampshire, became the sister city of Miami-Dade County, Florida this Friday. A twinning ceremony took place on Friday morning at the Mayor’s parlour in Southampton Civic Centre.
The press release which announced the twinning ceremony stated:
As part of the city’s vision to nurture global partnerships and to be known internationally for its immense pioneering role in human discovery, and as a green and smart city as well as city of culture, this twinning ceremony helps to recognise and celebrate the similarities between the two international maritime cities.
The Consul General of the British Consulate in Miami, Nicolette Brent, originally began conversations to highlight the links between the two port cities and suggested the possibility of a sister agreement being signed. Those attending the ceremony this morning included Southampton City Council leader Christopher Hammond, Mayor of Southampton Councillor Peter Baillie, Mayor of Miami-Dade County Carlos Gimenez (pictured below, speaking) and Chief of Economic Development and International Trade for Miami-Dade County, Manny Gonzalez.
One link between the cities emphasised in the council press release announcing the dawn of the sisterhood is the role both play in the cruise industry. Miami is home to British-American cruise operator, Carnival Corporation & plc, which employs over 120,000 people. The city also hosts the Miami International Boat show, Norwegian Cruise Lines, who dock in Southampton as well, and will be hosting next year as well as having hosted this year the world’s largest annual cruising industry conference event, Seatrade 2020. Southampton, of course, is also a prominent cruise ship city, with the UK’s leading ports group Associated British Ports (ABP) managing the Port of Southampton. In 2017, a record 2 million cruise passengers came to Southampton, while on average, the port handles 820,000 vehicles every year.
Underlining the perceived significance of the cities’ shared port history is a visit to the Port of Southampton also having been part of Friday’s proceedings.
Delegates from @PortMiami and @MiamiDadeCounty joined us today to sign a sister port agreement. Delighted to host you and bring two of the world’s leading cruise ports together. #portofsouthampton pic.twitter.com/UF0JnDOMC7
— ABP Southampton (@ABPSouthampton) 14 June 2019
Unlike Southampton which boasts remnants of city walls dating back to over 650 years ago, the then-village of Miami was only established in 1844, although to start its history there would be a disservice to the original settlers of the area, the indigenous Tequesta tribe. Spanish settlers in the late 16th century were the first non-indigenous inhabitants of the area. Although those original settlers’ attempts to subdue the Tequesta tribe failed, over the course of the next three centuries, a mixture of war, disease and displacement led to the native population’s wiping out.
Miami was established close to the militarily significant Fort Dallas in the context of the Seminole Wars, 1816-1858, three periods of war in the 50 years either side of Spain’s selling of Florida to the USA in 1821, where the indigenous Seminole tribe was gradually ousted out of the state.
After the Second World War, many veterans decided to stay having trained in the area during wartime and large numbers also enrolled at the University of Miami, taking advantage of a favourable Congressional bill making educational opportunities more open to veterans. Then, in 1959, Communist dictator Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba precipitated an influx of some 500,000 Cuban refugees to Miami, leading to the majority of citizens today being of Hispanic/Latino descent.
Miami-Dade County is the most populous county in Florida with an estimated 2.7 million inhabitants in 2017. Miami Beach is one of the most well-known landmarks and a particular party tourism hotspot, as partly referenced in Will Smith’s rap song, ‘Miami’.