Hialeah ( /ˌhaɪəˈliːə/) is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. With the population of 238,942 at the 2018 United States Census, Hialeah is the sixth-largest city in Florida. It is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,198,782 people at the 2018 census. It is located west-northwest of Miami, and is the only place in the county, other than Homestead, Florida, to have its own street grid numbered separately from the rest of the county (which is otherwise based on Miami Avenue at Flagler Street in downtown Miami, the county seat).
Hialeah has the highest percentage of Cuban and Cuban American residents of any city in the United States, at 73.37% of the population, making them a typical and prominent feature of the city’s culture. All Hispanics make up 94.7% of the city’s population, the second-highest percentage of a Hispanic population in a U.S. city with over 100,000 citizens.
Hialeah was named by a Seminole Indian named Willie Willie, when pioneer developer James Bright asked him to describe the property. He called it Hi-ale-ah, which means pretty prairie or high prairie. Bright, a cattleman from Missouri, came to Miami in 1909 and bought 640 acres of submerged land northwest of the city. Within a few months, he dug the Miami Canal and drained his land. He joined with New York developer and aviator Glenn Curtiss to incorporate Hialeah in 1921. Within 10 days, their company sold $1 million in land. Bright built a house and cattle ranch at what is now the corner of Hialeah Drive and East Second Avenue. Curtiss built an airfield at what eventually became the Deer Park residential section.
G.R. Milliard, Hialeah’s first resident, built his home at Okeechobee Road and Hialeah Drive. From his house, he operated the town’s first post office, first real estate office, first general store, first car repair shop and the first headquarters for the bus line to Miami. His daughter was born the year the town was incorporated. He named her Leah. Within two years, Hialeah had 41 families, a dog track and a race course under construction. As Miami and Miami Beach blossomed in the 1920s into “America’s winter playground,” Hialeah grew up as the working man’s town.
The Hialeah Race Track was first laid out as a dog track by Glenn H. Curtiss, a pioneer aviator and one of the first settlers in the area. It was later converted to a horse track by James Bright, the first white settler of record in Hialeah. Many of the city’s residents worked at the track.
Hialeah boomed during its first year of incorporation. Workers flocked to the area, buying inexpensive parcels of land and building “tent homes,” wood frame houses with canvas roofs. Then, in September 1926, a hurricane struck, destroying much of the city.But the city survived the hurricane and the Depression and finally bounced back during World War II. It’s now the sixth- largest city in Florida with a population of more than 234000.