Downtown Miami is the historic heart of Miami, and along with Coconut Grove, is the oldest settled area of Miami, with early pioneer settlement dating to the early 19th century. Urban development began in the 1890s with the construction of the Florida East Coast Railway by Standard Oil industrialist Henry Flagler down to Miami at the insistence of Julia Tuttle. Flagler, along with developers such as William Brickell and George E. Merrick helped bring developer interest to the city with the construction of hotels, resorts, homes, and the extension of Flagler's rail line. Flagler Street, originating in Downtown, is a major east–west road in Miami named after the tycoon; the Julia Tuttle Causeway, crossing Biscayne Bay just north of Downtown in Edgewater, is named in honor of Tuttle.
As of 2009, there are approximately 71,000 year-round residents in Greater Downtown (including Downtown's Brickell, Park West, and Arts & Entertainment District neighborhoods), with close to 200,000 populating the Downtown area during the daytime, making Downtown Miami one of the most populous downtowns in the U.S. after New York City and Chicago. With recent mass construction of high-rise residential buildings and office towers, Downtown has experienced large growth, with new shops, bars, parks, and restaurants opening up, attracting many new residents. Along with Brickell, Downtown has grown from 40,000 residents in 2000, to over 70,000 in 2009, making it one of the fastest-growing areas in Florida. It was estimated in February 2010, that about 550 new residents move to the Downtown area every month. As of 2009, over 190,000 office employees work in Downtown and Brickell.
Downtown is served by the Miami Metrorail at Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre, Government Center, and Brickell stations, accessible from Broward and Palm Beach counties via Tri-Rail transfer station. The Metro connects to the Downtown Metromover, which encompasses 22 stations on the clockwise Inner (or Downtown) loop and counterclockwise Brickell and Omni branch loops. Government Center station is Downtown's main station and allows for transfers to all Metromover loops, Metrorail trains, and Metrobus lines at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center.