Note; I'm not and have never been a stickler for historical accuracy. Thus what follows below is due largely to imagination and story, with a slight bit of attention paid to historical accuracy.
the Founding of Miami
One important fact must be mentioned: the city of Miami, for all that it now contains over 2.2 million people, is not very old. In most of the 19th century the only civilized inhabitants were small Spanish missions and ports, and the occasional citrus plantation. The true inhabitants of the region were the Indians -- especially the powerful empire-building Tequesta people, who ruled over the entire expanse of Southern Florida for a considerable period of time. The first settlement that was attempted in the region, by Ponce De Leon, proved a failure as the spaniard was unable to protect the area against the attacks of the natives. Even when the natives were defeated in the three "Seminole Wars" (the third and final one in 1858), the region remained largely ignored.
In 1891, though, a brash young woman named Julia Tuttle came into the area called Miami and bought several hundred areas along the banks of the Miami River (near Key Biscayne) for a massive citrus plantation. A wealthy and cunning Clevelander with a dream to settle the rich region, connections to wealthy Railroad Magnate Henry M. Flagler, the Widow Tuttle went on to become the first woman to found a city in America. She ALSO made a fortune after the freeze of '94 that destroyed all the citrus crops in North Florida and brought the region into public attention and convinced the Flagler to visit it as well and lend some of his own resources to the endeavor.
The city of Miami was incorporated on July 28th, 1896, with 344 citizens.
the First Prince of Miami
The city of Miami grew at an expotential rate, drawing more and more settlers even as more settlements sprang up in what would be the area of Greater Miami and it's environs. During the 20s, with legalized gambling and lax enforcement of prohbition causing a large influx of people, the population of the city pushed up to over 60,000. It was also during this period that the Kindred first took interest in the area, the first of which was a young Carthian Lord named Maxwell Noran. These young Kindred saw both a potential for power and a open-page on which to write their own form of Kindred Society. A steadfast industrialist, Noran attempted to structure the cities Kindred society up like a corporation, with himself as the leading Kindred "Magnate".
From 1921 until 1942, the city lay in the hands of the Noran and the Carthians. The experiment seemed a success, though it got off to a rocky start and never exactly stabilized. Every few years another crisis would flare up, ranging from the minor to the diasterous, and Noran's control over his domain was never even near total. From the founding of his domain to 1923, the main crisis was conflict between the Carthian idealists and unbound Vampires that had settled in the city earlier. Most of these were resolved with politics, giving title and command to the disenfranchised Kindred, but others were instead resolved with messy violence. The 20s also saw a number of unannounced guests to the domain, most of whom were never truly discovered by Noran, and a number of whom left "gifts" behind them in the form of fledgling Vampires. The great depression, and a potent Hurricane that struck in 1927, proved to be entirely different kinds of threats that further destabilized the region.
The 30s, however, proved the most deadly for the Carthians. While Miami itself prospered as much as any city during the Depression, the Kindred faced dangers of their own. First among these, and one that persisted past the Second World War, was intermittent hostilities between American and Native American Vampires. In 1935, one of Noran's most trusted colleagues (a Daeva named Minnie Clark) nearly caused a civil war among the cities Kindred when she attempted to take over the domain for herself -- ending in her destruction, and the exile of many of her childer. The failure of this last, however, is made evident by the fact that Clark's Brood remains an active force in Miami to this night. A different kind of Crisis kicked up in 1938 when one of those errant childer began a popular movement among the cities Carthians to remove Noran from office and institute a more democratic form of self-government.
The prosperity that came with World War II (and the government's activities in the area) proved something of a boon for Noran, but a short lived one indeed for it ultimately brought about the downfall of his weak praxis.
the Arrival of Gilan and Rivaldi
In 1942, the city of Miami had a population of over 300,000 people and was growing more and more important as the United States Military began establishing a stronger presence in the city. Nor was Miami alone, as other cities had grown just as large in nearby areas. Already a city of culture, wealth and great potential, Miami stood poised to fully make it's place in the world. Many saw in the region the seed for another Metropolis, and among these figures were some of the Spanish Kindred of St. Augustine.
Thus it was that in 1942, two ancient Spanish Kindred (little more than childer at their elders knee in St. Augustine) departed from their homes and made the long trek to the South by their own means, each intent on claiming the city for their own and becoming it's lord. Inez Rivaldi, a powerful scion of Clan Ventrue herself, viewed herself as the natural leader of the area -- riding south in a darkened train car, arriving in a prepared home staffed by loyal servitors in Key Biscayne (not far from where Julia Tuttle's original plantation had been). One of the Invictus, cunning and filled with ambition, Inez slowly ingrated herself into the city and began to secure her influence and holdings.
Maybe if she had moved quicker, she would have secured her domain, but as already noted she was not alone in her ambitions. Anesto Gilan, a ancient fiend of the Nosferatu, an more educated and cultured monster one could not imagine. Once a slave and servant to the Spanish, he earned his freedom and vowed that he would never serve another -- a promise he had broken, after his Embrace, and that failure had filled him with a shame that demanded to be filled. The passenger liner that brought him into Miami marked his arrival in blood and terror, and unlike the subtle spider of his competitor, he walked right undeterred into the Elysium of his 'rival' and demanded immediate obesience in the name of the Lord and God and the Lancea Sanctum. Then, when that obesience was not given, the upstart whelp was struck down and chained to the sun.
The next night, the city had a new Prince.
A Careful Detante
The subtle dance between Gilan and Rivaldi took somewhat longer to resolve. The two tested each other, weighed each other's power and weaknesses. Out and out hostility between the two would have likely given the city back to the shocked Carthians, but for the fact that Dame Rivaldi recognized the zeal and will in the eyes of her rival. She knew that he would not yield, that this battle would end only with the death of one of them. Nor was she sure that she would emerge victorious in the end. One other thing she knew; she could achieve what she desired without being Prince. Thus she approached Gilan and offered to sweat featly to him, if she was given Lordship of and Domain over Key Biscayne.
This 'compromise' proved beneficial to Gilan as well, a fact that he instantly recognized. In addition to forestalling or even avoiding a costly battle, it headed off other battles between those Kindred that had reached an 'agreement' with Noran. Which is not to say that many of those agreements (primarily with young Kindred who Anesto did not respect) were not broken, in time, usually in favor of his own childer. Yet, by playing to the other Kindred lords, Anesto allowed his strength to grow and prevented his enemies from collectively opposing him.
the Carthian Underground
The Carthian Movement splintered with the death of Maxwell Noran, falling into two different camps. The first of these was roughly organized under Noran's eldest childer, Jameson Riley, who had witnessed his sire's ugly death and pledged revenge on the monster that had killed him. The life of these rebels was difficult almost from the very beginning, as the Prince suffered no such open resistance to his rule, and many Carthians lost their heart for such a resistance and drifted away from the covenant or into the hands of Riley's Carthian Rival. A charismatic Kindred who called herself Annette and claimed a direct lineage from the late Minnie Clark, this rival had little interest in opposing the Prince but instead in earning his trust and gaining peace -- there to change the system from within.
Noran, Annette argued, was little better a ruler than this Anesto Gilan, as evidenced by the death of her sire and his brutal opposition to those who held different ideas than their own. She noted that in the ways of the Kindred, it was not uncommon for the strong to destroy the weak, and that if the Carthians hoped to keep their city they would have to compromise instead of blindly fight back -- and be crushed by the hand of a new ruler desiring to cement his reign. The exact reasonings for Annette's words were hard to pinpoint; Jameson often accused her of being a puppet of the new Prince, dividing the Carthians while they still had a chance to strike back. She maintained that she only spoke reason, and many other Kindred found her offer tantilizing.
The risks of acting against Anesto Gilan, after all, proved to be most dire.
In the end, the matter was settled by violence rather than ideology. Slowly, throughout the 40s and 50s, Anesto Gilan built up his influence over the city, resisting every effort of Jameson Riley and his followers. Gradually, the Carthians who followed Riley were destroyed, fled from the city in exile (many perishing in the process), or joined with Annette. Riley himself was destroyed in 57, some say betrayed to the Prince at the hands of Annette. Whatever the Truth, she found herself a prominent position in the city as Primogen and assumed leadership of the Covenant.
The new Primogen's hold over her Covenant was not complete, however, as many who had ultimately laid down their swords and stood beside her did not trust her at all and the whispers continued. Not a few of these were childer of Noran, or his followers, keen-eyed Ventrue and Daeva who distrusted the rapid rise to power that Annette had managed to pull off -- almost as if, they whispered, it had been planned from the beginning. Violence might well have erupted again, were it not for the death of Batista in 1959 and the rise of Castro. With the turmoil in Cuba, a veritable flood of refugees came to Miami, and with them...shadows of their own.
the Shadows of Cuba
On January 1st, 1959, Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba to the Dominican Republic, leaving Cuba in the hands of his revolutionary opponents. The new leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, quickly began his reign of terror -- executing political opponents, nationalize all private property, setting up a communist government and getting cozy with noted communist countries including the Soviet Union. The flood of refugees from Cuba toward the United States (many in barley seaworthy boats, or worse conditions) began quickly after, the vast number of them aiming toward the closest port: Miami.
These refugees were not alone in their flight. In 1963, the Mekhet Prince of Havana was killed by an unknown assailant. Most of his childer perished as well, or suffered fates largely unknown, but one of these -- Julian Desoto -- managed to narrowly escape his pursuers and steal a plane which he used to race across the Straight and into Miami mere hours before Sunrise. While Julian was the first of the Cuban Vampires to arrive in Miami he was not the last, the refugees found themselves alone in territory every bit as unfamiliar as their living kin and considerably more dangerous and largely unwelcoming of their presence. Were it not for Desoto's canny political manuevers, these Vampires likely would have found themselves exiled or destroyed, but the young elder managed to convey them into a force within the city in a frightful amount of time. That and the fact that both Desoto, Gilan, and most of the Cuban vampires were of the Lancea Sanctum helped prevent much in the way of infighting.
10 years later, in 1973, Desoto was named the Regent of "Little Havana" and all the Cuban refugees within Havana -- mimicing the mortal government by allowing Julian Desoto to hold his "government in exile".
A Gangrel Primogen
A nifty little 'sub-history' explaining how the Gangrel establish an official seat in the city, and also talking a bit about the Native vampires that dwell in the Everglades and occasionally cause trouble for the domain.
Note for later use: Mayor Xavier L. Suarez is elected into office in 1985, looses an election in 1993, but comes back in 1997 and continues to serve as the mayor until the present day. In the real world, he was impeached in 1998 for voter fraud, but this fraud (and other fictitious corruption to be decided upon later) was never discovered in the World of Darkness.