Tuesday, February 24, 2009

52/365 - Day 54

Close-up of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami

It is beautiful building tucked in amidst modern skyscrapers and high rise condominiums. And boy does it stand out!

A little history lesson thanks to about.com (which I have revised, but the info comes from there):

The Freedom Tower was built in the Mediterranean Revival style in 1925, when it housed the offices of the Miami News & Metropolis, the local newspaper at the time. It is said that it was inspired by the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. The cupola tower contained a beacon light to shine over the Miami Bay, which would have served the practical purpose of acting as a lighthouse while symbolically announcing the enlightenment brought by the Miami News & Metropolis to the rest of the world.

When the newspaper went out of business over 30 years later, the building was vacant for some time. When Fidel Castro came into power and political refugees flooded South Florida looking for a new start, the tower was taken over by the U.S. government to provide services to the immigrants. It contained in-processing services, basic medical and dental services, records on relatives already in the U.S. and relief aid for those starting a new life with nothing. For many thousands of immigrants, the tower provided nothing less than their freedom from Castro and the hardships Cuba had come to give them. It rightly earned its name then of the Freedom Tower.

When its services for refugees were no longer necessary, the Freedom Tower was closed down in the mid-70s. After being bought and sold many times in the coming years, the building fell further and further into disrepair. While many of the beautiful architectural elements remained, vagrants using the tower as shelter had transformed the tower from a thing of beauty to a wasteland of broken windows, graffiti and filth. Worse yet, it became apparent that the building was rotting away and was structurally unsound. An unwise investment, there seemed to be no one willing to take on the project of restoring it.

Finally, in 1997, hope sprang up from those most touched by the Freedom Tower- the Cuban American community. Jorge Mas Canosa purchased the building for $4.1 million. Using sketches, blue prints and anecdotal evidence, plans were put into motion to recreate the Freedom Tower exactly as it had been in its glory days.

Today, the tower is used as a monument to the trials of Cuban Americans in America. The first floor is a public museum detailing such things as boat lifts, life in pre-and post- Castro Cuba and the advances made by Cuban Americans in this country. There is a library containing an exhaustive collection of books written about fleeing Cuba and life in America.

The Freedom Tower is a marvel not only for its rich history and structural beauty but also for what it symbolizes for so many in Miami today. Thankfully, the restoration has assured that it will be around for many generations to appreciate and enjoy.


Tommie said...

Frameable! Wow!

shirley said...

Beautiful building! So glad it was restored. I would love to see images of the detail wood and masonry work.
I like how you framed it at an angle.

Like your watermark too. Was that pretty easy to do?

McKay Family said...

The water mark was very easy. I did it in Elements. Chose a shape - changed the transparency and color. Then added the name on top - changed transparency.