The journey begins at the mouth of the Miami River and travels upstream to what were once the original headwaters at the edge of the Everglades. From what was a tiny WWI airfield, the film flies back to the mouth of the river for an aerial view of the 21st Century city the river helped to build. The story of the City of Miami is the story of the Miami River.
The river divides Miami’s poorest neighborhoods from its wealthiest. The river's currents have carried Seminoles to trading posts and settlers up-stream to explore and conquer the Everglades, and build Miami. Its waters have carried the boats of fleeing Cuban refugees and harbored Miami’s fishing, shrimp and sponge fleets. The freighters that heave-to along its banks have helped build Miami’s international commerce. Its coal black waters have floated secret CIA operatives and drug boats. Its banks have teemed alternately with the dispossessed and the wealthy. Archeologists studying early civilizations have found that the water's shores are some of the most productive in the nation.
Miami: Reflections on the River is an original WPBT half-hour documentary that explores the Miami River as Miami’s benefactor and historian. Through high definition and archival footage and photos and interviews with the “old timers,” the program traces the history of the river – from its mouth at Biscayne Bay upstream to its origins in the Everglades. The story is told by long-time residents along the river, along with archaeologists and historians. In a lyrical narrative, the film shares impressions of the past to uncover imprints remaining today.
The film winds upriver with a tugboat captain to find a vanishing way of life, and discovers how refugees brought their fishing lifestyle to Miami to turn the waters into a “working river.” Huge freighters negotiate the narrow waterway, touching on the economy of the river as the fourth largest port for goods in Florida.
Today, Miami continues to reinvent itself as skyscrapers tower above the footprints of the original Tequesta Indians and trading posts.
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