The Vitrual Museum

Opa-Locka -

An Arabian Nights Themed Community

City of Opa-locka History

The City of Opa-Locka was the vision of aviation pioneer, Glen Curtiss. Opa-locka is an urban community occupying 4.2 square miles in the North-Western area of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The city boundaries are as follows: on the North-NW 151st Street, on the South - N.W. 125th Street, on the East – NW 45th Avenue on the West.  On May 14, 1926, Opa-locka was chartered as a town by twenty-eight registered voters.

The area was originally named by the Native Americans “Opa-tisha-wocka-locka” meaning “a big island covered with many  trees and swamps” but the name was quickly shorten to Opa-locka.  The City was developed based on the Arabian Nights theme which is evident by the large collection of Moorish architecture throughout the city and with street names like Sabur, Sultan, Ali Baba, Sharazad, Aladdin and Sesame.  Mr. Curtiss and architect, Bernhardt Muller, built 105 buildings with an array of domes, minarets and outside staircases. By the time Mr. Curtiss completed his vision for Opa-locka he had built a self-contained city with a hotel, zoo park, golf course, archery club, swimming pool, airport, and train station.

The September 1926 hurricane badly damaged the City, destroying many of the structures, but the surviving Moorish style buildings continue to give Opa-locka its unique appearance. Opa-locka currently has twenty buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

                                                                                                     (City of Opa-locka)

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Andrew B. Plassey

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