THE HISTORY: Waterfront property has always been valuable in Miami and the Bayfront Park has been one of the most iconic properties in the city for decades. The park first opened in 1925 – rough timing, because the Great Hurricane of 1926 did some serious damage to plants in the park and even lifted a bunch of boats up and dropped them in the park. The city rebuilt and added a grotto, a waterfront rock garden, and the early version of the park’s bandshell. By the 1950s a new bandshell was built and so was a brand new library.
BOOKS BY THE BAY: Before the main library branch settled into its spot near the courthouses in Downtown Miami, it was in Bayfront Park. Completed in 1951, it was the first permanent home for Miami’s library system and stuck around for about three decades. The library was criticized when it was first built because it blocked views of the water.
A NEW ERA: By the 1980s things were changing again. The park was redesigned to include a larger promenade with a fountain (that leaders are trying to get flowing again), a monument to the astronauts who died in the Challenger space launch, and new amphitheaters. Those plans also called for demolishing the library 🙁
THE FUTURE: Bayfront Park and Bayside marketplace attract thousands of tourists a day today. The park has hosted the Ultra Music Festival for years along with other concerts and Bayside remains everyone’s favorite place to get Hooters wings and airbrush t-shirts. Bayside’s currently undergoing renovations. Over at the park, FPL’s planning to build a giant solar ring over the amphitheater and there’s also the massive Skyrise Miami tower that will overlook the park and is set to be completed by 2020.
ANOTHER WILD FACT: President Franklin Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt in the park in 1933 when he spoke about plans to help the city’s residents through the Great Depression. As he finished his speech at the bandshell, a gunman opened fire. The crowd stopped him before he fired more shots.
Stay tuned on as we’ll sorta regularly flashback to pieces of Miami history. And check out this deep dive into Bayside from the Biscayne Times. If there’s any other overlooked or lesser-known Miami history you think we should look into, hit reply and let us know.