(hī'əlē'ə, "high prairie") A city just northwest of Miami, Florida, on the Miami River. It takes up 19.2 square miles, and has a population of 230,000 (#76 in the country).

Back during the Roaring Twenties, Hialeah was the apex of South Florida life. Ultra-rich people went there to bet on greyhounds and jai alai, and silent movies were filmed there all the time. In 1925, a horse racing track opened at Hialeah Park, which soon became one of the best-known tracks in the country. Times were really different then: the population of Hialeah was about 1,500, and was mostly engaged in farming.

Then came Fidel Castro, and the exodus. Soon, thousands of naturalized Cuban refugees had built an expatriate community in Hialeah rivaling Little Havana to the southeast. Wave after wave of immigration brought more and more Cubans to the city, displacing the old elite.

Today, half of Hialeah's workers are in industrial jobs, reinforcing its status as a working class community. (Many are Afro-Cubans who practice the voodoo-style Santeria religion.) Most of Hialeah's plants are Cuban-owned and operated, so a thriving service industry exists in Hialeah as well, and more than a few wealthy Cuban businesspeople live there.

Politically, Hialeah votes overwhelmingly Republican, unlike the rest of South Florida. (This makes sense when you realize that most of its residents fled communism.) Cuban-Americans like Lincoln Diaz-Balart usually run unopposed for re-election to Congress and state office: of course, the Hialeah constituency also helped George W. Bush squeak away with the presidency in 2000.

Miami International Airport is just a stone's throw away from the city center. Hialeah is also connected to Miami by the Metrorail, and to points north by the Tri-Rail. Amtrak's Miami station is located there.

little known facts:

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