In Met Square tower, archeologists have found remnants of Henry Flagler which gave birth to modern Miami and its tourism industry.
Opening its doors in 1897, the Royal Palm Hotel was one of the first area hotels in Miami. The hotel was built on the site of a Tequesta village.
These remnants included everything from clay bricks to room keys, and planks of wood in Flagler’s signature yellow paint. Brick bases of the hotel’s original verandah were dug up, and even the Miami River’s original shoreline, at one time much further inland than it is today.
Also knowing that the hotel had originally been built on Tequesta land, the intrepid archeologists kept on digging down, and in a layer beneath dug up a couple of mini versions of the famous Miami Circle across the river.
The city’s buried history, centuries of it, suddenly comes to light in a startling reveal.
When archeologist Bob Carr and his crew took away the dirt at that spot, they discovered, much to their surprise, a natural freshwater spring, still bubbling up from the acquifer after all these years.
Soon all of this will be gone again, removed or reburied after documentation in preparation for construction of the entertainment complex known as Met Square. It’s the last piece in a multi-block development occupying historic Ground Zero, the place where civilization first took root 2,000 years ago in what is today a forest of skyscrapers.
“That this has always been a prime location is evident from the thousands of objects we have found from the people who lived here,’’ said Carr, whose nonprofit Archaeological and Historical Conservancy has been digging in phases on the Met Miami properties since 2005. “What’s exciting about this project is you get to slice through time, from ancient times right through modern times.’’
Carr, who discovered the Miami Circle on the south bank of the river’s mouth in 1998, says he now believes the Tequesta settlement extended to both sides of the river, and may have reached as far west as Miami Avenue and as far north as present Flagler Street.
Since Carr began exploring the former Royal Palm site, he and his assistants have uncovered surprisingly extensive remnants of the hotel, which boasted the first sewer and fire-suppression systems, electric lights, elevators and swimming pool in Miami.