Meet Henry Flagler

In 2014, HistoryMiami Museum, along with the guest curator Brandon Opalka, invited over 20 local artists to create Miami-inspired murals for and exhibition. 'A Portrait of Henry Flagler', by 2Alas, is one of two of the features murals remaining on view.


Henry Flagler was born in Hopewell, New York, in 1830.  Flagler became a businessman early, leaving school  at 14 years old to enter the grain industry, where Flagler eventually met then grain-seller John D. Rockefeller. By the 1860’s Rockefeller had given up the grain industry to form Standard Oil, and asked Flagler to join him as a partner. Standard Oil quickly gained a monopoly on the American Oil Industry, leaving Flagler very wealthy.

Flagler fell in love with the beauty of Florida on a trip to Jacksonville with his wife. In 1885 he began work on his first real estate project, the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine and formed a new railway company, the Florida East Coast Railway, to bring guests top the new destination. He extended his Railway to St. Augustine and eventually all the way to Palm Beach.

However, the deep freezes of 1894-95 hindered the Florida citrus crop and the state’s tourism. Flagler considered the idea of developing the land even farther south of Palm Beach to avoid the cold. Legend has it that Miami landowner Julia Tuttle sent Flagler an orange blossom as proof of the warmer climate in the Miami Area. He negotiated land deals with Julia Tuttle and Miami's other prominent landholders, the Brickells, to extend his Florida East Coast Railway to the Biscayne Bay in 1896. That year, the City of Miami became incorporated, and voted to rename the city “Flagler” in Henry’s honor. He declined the name-change, but the main east-west thoroughfare of Miami was called “Flagler Street” in his honor.

The HistoryMiami Museum stands on the modern Flagler Street, and seeks to share the stories of individuals who shape the South Florida of today.


2Alas is an arts collective that continually define the South Florida we live in.  Comprised of Andrew Antonaccio and Filio Galvez, the duo has become a strong force for Urban Art in Miami, known for their black and white linear portraits and colored geometric abstractions.  While their brilliant murals have been placed around South Florida in recent years, 2 alas also travels afar, painting murals in places such as Torino, Montreal, and Puerto Rico, representing the unique artistic style of Miami around the world. Stay tuned for more collaborations between HMM and 2Alas.

Witness Miami’s stories and see how our city’s history has shaped the present and the future at the HistoryMiami Museum.