Miami International Airport, also known as MIA, is located eight miles northwest of downtown Miami in an unincorporated area of Miami-Dade County, Florida. American Airlines’ hub for flights to and from Latin American, the airport in 2011 was ranked first in the United States for international flights by percentage and second—behind only New York City’s JFK airport—for international passengers by volume. In addition to its large passenger count (it’s the country’s tenth busiest airport by that metric), it also handles the most international cargo of any airport in the United States. Its most-flown international route is to and from São Paulo, with several other Latin American destinations in the top 10. Only London, at number two, Madrid, at number seven, and Toronto, at number 10, don’t fall within that category.
MIA’s first incarnation was as the Miami City Airport in the early 1920s. In 1928, Pan American World Airways built their own facility next door, Pan American Field. Pan Am, founded the year prior as a mail and passenger service between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba, would eventually move their headquarters to New York City until 1991 (the same year the company collapsed).
Though the airline welcomed flights from several companies, it wasn’t until 1945 that the city of Miami purchased the airfield from Pan Am. Known variously as 36th Street Airport or Wilcox Field—after a Florida representative to the U.S. House of Representatives—nonstop flights to Chicago and New York City began in 1946 and to transatlantic destinations in 1970.
Miami International Airport connects directly to Miami-Dade Transit’s Metrorail and Metrobus systems, a Greyhound Bus station, and the Tri-Rail commuter rail line that links Miami to Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. From the nearby Miami Central Station (where Greyhound buses leave for Orlando, Tampa, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City), Amtrak trains will soon provide daily service to cities from Orlando to New York City.