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In the 1980s and 1990s, South Florida weathered social problems related to drug wars, immigration from Haiti and Latin America, and the widespread destruction of Hurricane Andrew.
Racial and cultural tensions were sometimes sparked, but the city developed in the latter half of the 20th century as a major international, financial, and cultural center.
In the late 19th century, reports described the area as a promising wilderness.
The Great Freeze of 1894–95 hastened Miami's growth, as the crops of the Miami area were the only ones in Florida that survived.
Miami is noted as "the only major city in the United States conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle", a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native.
The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially created barrier islands, the largest of which contains Miami Beach and South Beach.The highest natural point in the city of Miami is in Coconut Grove, near the bay, along the Miami Rock Ridge at 24 feet (7.3 m) above sea level.The surface bedrock under the Miami area is called Miami oolite or Miami limestone. The Civic Center is a major center for hospitals, research institutes, medical centers, and biotechnology industries. Downtown Miami is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and many large national and international companies.
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During the early 20th century, northerners were attracted to the city, and Miami prospered during the 1920s with an increase in population and infrastructure.