Homestead was incorporated in 1913 and is the second oldest city in Miami-Dade County next to the City of Miami. It is located approximately 35 miles southwest of the city of Miami, and 25 miles northeast of Key Largo. The name originates from when the Florida East Coast Railway extension to Key West was being built. The rail line was passing through an area recently opened up for homesteading, and as the construction camp at the end of the line did not have a particular name, construction materials and supplies for the workers were consigned to "Homestead Country", shortened to "Homestead" by the engineers who mapped the area. As of the 2000 census the city population was 31,909. As of 2006, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 53,767, which made it the fastest growing city in the US for cities with populations 50,000+ with a 20.8% increase from 2005-2006.
The city of Homestead is located near the southern terminus of the Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike where it ends at its junction with U.S. 1. Homestead is immediately north and east of Florida City, and these two cities comprise the greater Homestead-Florida City area. Some of the notable unincorporated communities in the area are Redland, Leisure City, Naranja, and Princeton.
Homestead is a rather small-sized city. At its greatest north-south points - along SW 137th Avenue (Speedway Boulevard) - its city limits extend only 4 miles - from SW 288th Street (Biscayne Drive) at the north end to (theoretical) SW 352nd Street at the south end. At its greatest east-west points - along SW 328th Street (North Canal Drive / Lucy Street) - its city limits extend 6 miles - from (theoretical) SW 132nd Avenue at the east end to SW 192nd Avenue at the west end. U.S. 1 - known as Homestead Boulevard within the city limits - extends through a rather narrow northeast / southwest corridor of the city from SW 304th Street (Kings Highway) at the north end to SW 328th Street (Lucy Street) at the south end. It is at this point at the south end that Homestead and Florida City share a common border. (North of the north end at SW 304th Street is known as Unincorporated Miami-Dade County, but it is locally known as the community of Leisure City).
Major east-west streets within Homestead include SW 304th Street / NE & NW 15th Street (Kings Highway), SW 312th Street / NE & NW 8th Street (Campbell Drive), SW 320th Street (Mowry Drive), SW 328th Street / SE & SW 8th Street (North Canal Drive / Lucy Street), and SW 344th Street / SE 24th Street (Palm Drive).
The original Homestead Air Force Base was once located several miles to the northeast of Homestead, but due to annexation of formerly unincorporated land immediately to the east and northeast of the original city limits during the late-1990s the city and the far southwestern perimeter of the (now) Homestead Air Reserve Base share a common border for a small portion along SW 137th Avenue (Speedway Boulevard).
A noteworthy tourist attraction within Leisure City is the mysterious Coral Castle, built by a jilted lover, Edward Leedskalnin, over the course of 28 years from 1923 to 1951. The Fruit and Spice Park is also of interest.
Homestead bore the brunt of Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane, which hit South Florida on August 24, 1992. The city of Homestead was put on the map due to the sheer devastation wrought by Hurricane Andrew. Since 2002, the city has experienced a building and housing boom due to the scarcity of developable land elsewhere in Miami-Dade County.
The City of Homestead made history on November 6th 2007, when its citizens elected Lynda Bell as its first female Mayor in the city's 94 year history.
Homestead has a tropical climate similar to that of Miami and the rest of the surrounding South Florida metropolitan area. Summers are hot and humid and high temperatures average between 88° and 92°F (31° to 33°C). Winters are mild, but average cooler than nearby coastal areas. The all-time record high temperature is 100°F (38°C), on 21 July 1942. Lows in summer average between 70° and 75°F (21° to 24°C), with low temperatures in all times of year averaging 5-15 degrees cooler than coastal Miami, mainly because of its inland and rural location. In winter, the area sees cold fronts bring cold weather for short periods from November to March. The lowest temperature ever recorded is 26°F, on 13 December 1934, which was recorded at Homestead Air Force Base, some 10 miles east of the town. In the farm areas west of downtown, frosts and freezes are common 5-10 times per year. High temperatures in winter average between 65° and 80°F(18° to 26°C), and lows average between 47° and 57°F (8° to 14°C). Summer is the season when most of the rain occurs. Homestead has a wet season lasting from mid-May to early October. The dry season sees little if any rain, with most of it coming with the passing of cold fronts. Snowfall has been recorded once at Homestead Air Force Base, on January 20, 1977, and marked the farthest south that snowfall has ever been reported in the lower 48 United States.
Hurricanes pose a threat to the area, and even though it is not located on the immediate coast, Homestead has been affected by hurricanes before. The only recent strong one was Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, which devastated the town. It took 5 to 10 years for things to recover. Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma brushed by in 2005, but did not pass directly over Homestead.
There were 10,095 households out of which 42.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 22.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.1% were non-families. 20.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.54.
In the city the population was spread out with 33.2% under the age of 18, 12.8% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 15.0% from 45 to 64, and 7.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 107.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,775, and the median income for a family was $26,409. Males had a median income of $23,118 versus $20,261 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,357. About 29.1% of families and 31.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 43.9% of those under age 18 and 20.0% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2000, Homestead had the fifty-fifth highest percentage of Cuban residents in the US, with 6.8% of the populace. It had the 154th highest percentage of Puerto Rican residents in the US, at 6.53% of the city's population, and the thirty-sixth highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, at 5.1% of its population (tied with Wheatley Heights, New York.) It also had the thirt-fifth most Guatemalans in the US, at 3.32%, while it had the seventy-second highest percentage of Salvadorans, at 2.69% of all residents. Homestead's Honduran community had the forty-fourth highest percentage of residents, which was at 1.07% of the population.
Until 1992 Florida's tallest construction, the WCIX TV Tower was situated at Homestead, Florida.
Homestead is zoned to the following Elementary and Middle schools:
Homestead has the following (K-8) Charter Schools
Homestead is also home to Miami-Dade College (Homestead Campus).