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Tue September 24, 2013
How I-95 Shattered The World Of Miami's Early Overtown Residents
When Naomi Rolle talks about her childhood home in Overtown, tears fall from her eyes.
Her father, Jerod Hastings Rolle, and his mother — her grandmother — constructed the cozy peach-colored home with swirling concrete pillars in the 1920s.
“It was beautiful,” she said. “It was one of the only houses built with concrete and stucco. The other homes around us were made out of wood.”
Rolle, who now lives in Liberty City, is among thousands who were forced out of their homes in the 1960s to make room for Interstate 95 and later, Interstate 395.
Today, a concrete beam that holds up I-95 stands where Rolle’s front yard used to be.
Her home was razed to make room for the highway.
“I get choked up every time I talk about it, just like my dad used to get choked up,” said Rolle, 70. “In 1965 they ran him out of that house.”
For those who called Overtown home, theirs is a story of remembrance and loss.
They fondly recall the glory days of Overtown, then a segregated neighborhood of Miami called the Central Negro District or Colored Town.
Bahamian musicians marched down Fifth Place on Friday nights playing a spicy blend of Calypso. Teenagers flirted over jukebox sessions at neighborhood restaurants. On summer afternoons black children from as far as Key West splashed in the Dixie Pool.
Miami Stories Project
Art Basel 2012