Bicentennial Park Dedicated in 1976

Dedication on July 4, 1976

Cover: Dedication on July 4, 1976

Following the movement of the Port of Miami to Dodge Island in the mid-1960s, many wondered what would become of the land of the former port location. Although it took a few years, Miami city leaders found a way to acquire the land and make it a park.

The new park was earmarked to be available for public access by the mid-1970s. While the city was planning for the park, the nation was bracing for a big bicentennial celebration in 1976. It was only natural that the two events would coincide and provide the park a name and a targeted completion date.

Although the building of the park progressed slowly, the city scheduled the dedication on July 4th, 1976. The park was close to completion when the city leaders gathered at the park for the

Bicentennial Park on November 9, 1977

Figure 1: Bicentennial Park on November 9, 1977

ceremony. They were joined by the 350-member interdenominational chorus who sang “one nation under god” to celebrate 200 years of religious freedom in America. The dedication ceremony was conducted at 1:00pm and was followed by a flyover by four Phantom II fighter jets from Homestead Air Force Base saluting the new park and the nation.

One of the biggest criticisms of the park when it opened was the obvious lack of parking. The city wanted to maximize green space and chose to not include public parking spaces. There was a plan to provide a shuttle from parking ramps to the park, but it never got implemented. The parking issue may have contributed to its sparse use after the dedication.

The park was reconfigured and rededicated as Museum Park in June of 2014. In January of 2019, the park was once again rededicated to honor Miami’s first Hispanic Mayor, Maurice

Miami News on November 8, 1976

Figure 2: Miami News on November 8, 1976

Ferre. He was mayor of the city from 1973 until 1985 and led the effort for the city to purchase the bayfront land that became Bicentennial Park.

While Bicentennial Park opened with a lot of fanfare in 1976, it never lived-up to the vision that city leaders had for the park in the mid-1970s. Very few people were living in downtown Miami at the time, which led to it being primarily used by the city’s homeless population.

With each passing year, Maurice Ferre Museum Park is getting more use. On the northern edge of the park are two of Miami’s most popular museums. Given the size of the park and its proximity to the bay, it’s being better utilized today than it was when it was dedicated during the nation’s bicentennial. When the park was reconfigured in the early 2010s, it remedied the primary complaint of Bicentennial Park and provided a couple rows of public parking spaces in the park.

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