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Incorporation Palm

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Saturday, July 18, 2009

On July 28, 1896, three-hundred and sixty eight men met in the room over ‘The Lobby,’ a building situated on what was then Avenue D,  to incorporate the City of Miami, organize its municipal government, and elect 26 year-old John B. Reilly its first Mayor. An article published in The Miami Metropolis three days later reported that among the items approved unanimously was the designation of the City of Miami seal:  

“[The] corporate seal of this municipality shall be as follows: A round seal two inches in diameter, with the words ‘The City of Miami’ arranged in a semicircular form, constituting the border around the base and the design of the Royal Palm tree in an upright position in the center of the seal, with the inscription ‘Incorporated 1896’ inserted just below the center of the seal.”

Incorporation Palm

To celebrate Miami's birthday, artist Xavier Cortada proposes bringing that municipal seal to life.  Cortada envisions the planting of a Royal Palm tree at the very location where the city was incorporated. This ever-growing green monument would mark the birthplace of the city, an important historic reference point for visitors and locals alike.

According to historian Dr. Paul George, the city's incorporation site --a stop in his historic tours of downtown Miami-- is now a concrete median at the base of the north side of the South Miami Avenue bridge in Downtown Miami (see map on left).

Cortada's conceptual piece references the past (1896) as a way of charting a course to a brighter future (the growing Royal Palm), the promise made by every generation that labors here.  During Miami's 109th birthday celebration, the Mayor and City Commissioners unveiled two murals at the entrance of City Hall.  Cortada stated that he created these two murals because he wanted "to educate residents about their City’s history and its multicultural origins. By learning about our past we can build a future filled with mutual respect and understanding." 

The Incorporation Palm, a living monument, aims to do the same.

Tags:  City of Miami  Incorporation Palm  Incorporators  Seal  Xavier Cortada 

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FIU College of Architecture + The Arts

Xavier Cortada
Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts
420 Lincoln Road, Suite 430
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Xavier Cortada's participatory art practice is based at Florida International University.


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