Adventures written by the VAMONDE Team
Constructed in the 1920s on land purchased from the Florida East Coast Railway, Bayfront Park is a 32-acre urban oasis in downtown Miami. Today, the park is a thriving community space that offers a range of amenities and special events for visitors of all ages.
Until the time of its purchase, the land was under the jurisdiction of the Flagler family. The family patriarch, Henry Flagler, was an oil tycoon who founded the railway. He developed what he called a new "American Riviera,” running from St. Augustine to Miami. The land on which the park now sits was home to a county fair building, a clubhouse belonging to the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, and Elser Pier, a popular entertainment venue.
When the city purchased the land, they drew up plans for a park consisting primarily of open space with a marina at one end and a bandshell at the opposite end. The landscape design included paths and walkways lined with tropical plants. In 1927, a rock garden was added, and the original bandshell was replaced in 1928.
The park’s reputation for holding civic events and political gatherings led to a scheduled appearance in February 1933 by President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As Roosevelt arrived at the bandshell, self-proclaimed anarchist Guiseppe Zangara fired shots in his direction but missed his mark, killing the mayor of Chicago and wounding four bystanders. The assassination attempt has been fictionalized in books, on television, and on stage.
See historical footage of Zangara’s assassination attempt:
Cover image by Daderot [Public domain].