The Tequestas occupied the area for a thousand years before encountering Europeans. An Indian village of hundreds of people dating to 500-600 B.C. was located at the mouth of the Miami River.

In 1566 the explorer, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, claimed it for Spain. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567. Spain and Great Britain successively “controlled” Florida, and Spain ceded it to the United States in 1821. In 1836, the US built Fort Dallas as part of its development of the Florida Territory and attempt to suppress and remove the Seminole. The Miami area subsequently became a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.