Freedom Tower is an interesting park of Miami’s skyline, as it is one of the few towers erected in the Spanish revival style, and because it is an allegory for Cuban immigration to the United States. The building was first erected in the 1920s and housed the Miami News until 1957, when the newspaper moved out to new premises. In the 1960s, the Federal Government used the tower to process and document refugees fleeing Communist Cuba and provide them with services, until the wave of refugees ended in the early 70s. It was used as a museum and cultural centre from the late 70s until the early 2000s, when a new owner attempted to put up condos on an adjacent site. The plan elicited a large amount of opposition from conservationists, and in 2005 Freedom Tower was donated to Miami-Dade University, which operates an art gallery and cultural centre in it. It’s in interesting building, not least because it’s a tribute to those fleeing Communist Cuba, but actually looks like one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters buildings in Moscow.
In addition to the monument to Simon Bolivar, there is also an interesting monument to the Torch of Friendship among the countries of the Americas (minus Cuba, of course). The monument is dedicated to assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and the design of the structure is very much reminiscent of the 1960’s (i.e. the typeface of the country names). There’s not much else to the Torch of Friendship, although it is an interesting stop on Biscayne Blvd.
Downtown Miami is not quite the tourist draw that one might expect. Rundown and often empty, the heart of the city idealized by CSI is not somewhere that most people would want to spend an afternoon. There are plenty of shops selling drinks and small souvenirs, capitalizing on tourists coming to see a few of the historic buildings that remain from Miami’s early days as a tourist haven, but these are now competing with shuttered and abandoned storefronts. Downtown Miami is not a place to be after dark, especially if you are on foot (trust me, I was stupid enough to do it). Nevertheless, it is a good idea to have at least a look at an area that once attracted mobsters and retirees.
The Gesù Catholic Church seems a bit out of place in downtown Miami, where the streets desert in advance of sundown. The Church was started in 1920 and completed in 1925, when it came into operation as a Church and, gradually, a Jesuit school. The building itself is in a beautiful pink, with a clear Spanish Colonial influence that mirrors, undoubtedly, the composition of the city’s Catholic population. The high, rounded arches, the square campaniles and balconies, and the plain white cross atop the Church all serve to make it look like a California mission, a bit incongruous with the rest of the city and its love of neo-Classical styles. I, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go into the church, as its entrance was gated an locked on a Tuesday, but I somehow imagine that the interior remains faithful to its inspiration.
Bayfront Park is a wonder spot of green in what can otherwise seem like a very concrete city centre. This park occupies a huge expanse of Miami’s waterfront, providing those with a desire to experience a pre-cursor of the Atlantic Ocean. The park is filled with grassy hills and palm trees, and the Municipality has also provided numerous play facilities for children. The park is complete with a large, impressive fountain in the centre (although, somehow, manmade pools of water are less impressive than the ocean) and a few monuments to peace and other worthy causes.
In 1987, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after take-off, killing all of the crew members aboard. While any transport accident is a tragedy, the Challenger’s demise seems doubly so, given the number of highly-educated individuals who had embarked on a mission for the good of humankind. The space program is particularly important for Florida, home to Cape Canaveral, which is likely why you will find a memorial to those who lost their lives in the accident at the south-western corner of Bayfront Park in Miami. This tasteful memorial is somehow suited to the surrounding skyscrapers and hotel buildings, allowing for a remembrance of those who died attempting to breach the final frontier.
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The Dade County Courthouse is significant in the history of government, community development, and architecture in Miami. Built between 1925 and 1928, the Courthouse has continuously served as Dade County’s seat of government since that time. The courthouse was also designed to serve as the Miami City Hall, and facilities included necessary courtrooms, record rooms, judicial chambers, law library, and jails for both government entities. Construction of the Courthouse spanned the “boom” and “bust” years of 1925 to 1928. The Dade County Courthouse is also significant in the architectural history of South Florida and is an outstanding example of the application of Neo-Classical style architecture to a 27 story building. The choice of Neo-Classical design was in keeping with contemporary ideas that the workings of the judicial systems of government were a solemn business to be housed in the dignified manner of the “ancients.” The choice of a skyscraper met the desire for a “modern” building, as well as the County and City’s needs for expandable space.
Designed by prominent Atlanta architect A. Ten Eyck Brown, who was responsible for numerous courthouses throughout the South, the Dade County Courthouse featured many innovative solutions to meet the needs of local government. As an example, an underground garage provided parking spaces at a time when parking was beginning to be recognized as a problem.
not a tourist attraction per se, but an impressive part of miami. pictured is the bank of america tower. at night most of the buildings of downtown miami are lit up which is an impressive site to see. not an area to stay at but an interesting area to drive through and see modern american architecture.
The Freedom Tower is located in downton Miami is where the countless Cuban refugees were processed and began their new life in the United States.
It was here where my family was processed after arriving into the Opa Locka airport and transfered by bus to this magnificent building.
Today it is a museum and a tribute to the many hardships of the Cuban people and their desire to flee a Communist Cuba.
It is also architecturally interesting having being designed in a Mediterranean style common to Coral Gables and Coconut Grove and is now on the historical registry.
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