Miami History Podcast #7: Bayfront Park

The seventh episode of the Miami History Podcast discusses the history of Bayfront Park. Built with bay bottom fill in the mid-1920s, the park has been the front porch for the City of Miami since it opened in 1925. It has been a location for many of Miami’s most notable events and large gatherings. While it has been considered for conversion from a park to other uses, it has remained the most important green space in downtown Miami.

The park was the venue of choice for Miami’s music scene during its early years. Conductor Caesar Lamonaca performed free concerts in the park from 1929 through the late 1970s. There were several bandshells located in the park through the years in which Lamonaca performed the concerts.

There were plans after World War II to transform the park into a parking lot and convention center. The plan called for the creation of a smaller version of the park, located directly to the east of the existing location. However, the plan never gained enough support to reach implementation.

Today, Bayfront Park serves the dual role of event venue and public park. As this episode is published, there is an ongoing debate between downtown residents and the City Commission on the right balance of time spent in both roles. While green space in downtown Miami is scarce, Bayfront Park will always have a special legacy of the city’s front porch.

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Further Reading:

Images:

  • Biscayne Bay looking east in 1900. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • Elser Pier in 1917. Courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum.
  • Bayfront Park in 1928. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • Bayfront Park Bandshell in 1930. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • FDR in Bayfront Park in 1933. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • John F. Kennedy in Bayfront Park in 1960. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • Bayfront Park in 1948. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • Library in Bayfront Park in 1951. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • Bayfront Park in 2018. Courtesy of Miami Department of Tourism.