|Miami’s Torch of Friendship|
|Written by Paul S. George, Special to the BT|
A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami
Bayfront Park’s Torch of Friendship -- which is seen here under construction with a fetching view of Biscayne Bay in the background -- has been a downtown landmark since 1960.
Erected by the City of Miami between August and October of 1960, the monument underlines the Magic City’s “perpetual friendship” with Latin American countries, as well as with those in the West Indies.
The monument’s creation came on the heels of a longstanding desire to position Miami as a gateway to the Americas.
Even before Miami was incorporated, Julia Tuttle, its future “mother,” reportedly told a friend that she believed this settlement would become a nexus of the Americas.
A Pan American movement, with Miami as the critical link, was manifest in statesman and politician William Jennings Bryan’s call, in the early 1900s, for a university by that name, out of which emerged the University of Miami in the mid-1920s.
In 1933, a Beaux Arts-inspired plan for redeveloping the site of Henry M. Flagler’s recently razed Royal Palm Hotel in downtown Miami with a Pan American Exhibition Center came to naught.
Fifteen years later, a proposed Pan American Convention Hall and Exposition Center on the same site met with a similar fate.
Finally, with the construction of the Torch of Friendship, the Magic City had its monument to underline its close links to other parts of the hemisphere.
The monument’s creation came at a propitious time, for these ties had grown significantly stronger following the influx of thousands of Cubans fleeing the tyranny of Fidel Castro.
The next edition of “Picture Story” will examine further Miami’s Torch of Friendship.
Volume 15, Issue 2, April 2017
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