The Little River is one of Miami’s four original natural rivers. The Little River is one of the most important historic sites in Miami, home to some of the earliest indigenous settlements in Florida, as well as early Jesuit encampments, and historic agricultural development at Lemon City, one of South Miami’s earliest modern settlements. Henry Flagler’s original railroad crosses the Little River, and was an important transportation artery for taking Lemon City’s citrus to the North. The River took a natural path from present day North Miami Avenue east to Biscayne Bay, past a natural boiling spring, dropping through a 6’ rapids, and on through bio-diverse mangrove forests before eventually emptying in the bay in a wide estuary at what is present-day Belle Meade. West of present-day North Miami Avenue, the River emerged from transverse glades—the natural sawgrass prairies of the original Everglades, reaching all the way from the west coast of Florida. Today, the Little River (C-7) winds its way through 12 miles of diverse communities including Hialeah Gardens, Hialeah, Miami, unincorporated Miami-Dade, El Portal, Larchmont Gardens, Oakland Grove, the Upper East Side, Shorecrest and Belle Meade, and it is a major drainage conduit for Doral and parts west.
History of the Little River
When south Florida was first settled—and up until the first canal drainage projects in the late 1920s—the only solid mainland was a narrow string of islands or keys between the Biscayne Bay and the Everglades on the Coastal Ridge.