See also Bayside Miami
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Crandon park – Coconut Plantation
Almost 70 years ago a wealthy coconut plantation owner in Miami decided to donate a portion of his land for the development of a public park. Mr. William John Matheson and his family generously donated 808.8 acres of their plantation to Dade County (now Miami-Dade County).
Mr. Charles Crandon (County Commissioner in 1940) promised that in exchange for the land that he would have a causeway constructed into Key Biscayne. The deal was concluded later that year, but unfortunately World War II was going on at that time and it took over 7 years to get the causeway constructed and operational.
The park was named after Mr. Crandon for all his hard work and efforts over the years to get the park completed and operational. Inadequate park funds and the expense of having to carry all materials by barge proved to be one of the most difficult tasks in the building of the park.
Every year hundreds of thousands of tourist come to enjoy the fruit of Mr. Crandon’s labor.
Before the construction of the Miami Metro Zoo, the park also contained its own zoo. The zoo sat comfortably on 48 acres of land and was one of the major attractions at Crandon Park. The first animals to be placed inside of the zoo were actually stranded in the Miami area after the circus they were working in went out of business. Some lions, an elephant, and a rhinoceros were able to use the land as kind of a retirement home.
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Over the next few years, heirs of Mr. Matheson donated animals from the remainder of their plantations. Galapagos tortoises, monkeys, and pheasants were some of the added gifts that were given to Dade County. A white Bengal tiger was added by the county in an effort to show the support of the community for the zoo.
Shortly after that, the decision was made to relocate the animals to the newly completed Miami Metro Zoo and utilize the old zoo’s location to add more attractions to the beach front property. This beautiful reserve of land that is sandwiched between the Biscayne Bay and Atlantic Ocean has developed
over the years into not just a beach, but a Miami wild life preserve in its own right.
A small area of land has been designated as an Environment Study area. This preserve (named the Bear Cut Preserve) is intended to remind and educate people about the kinds of animals that once roamed freely on the land. The minute you set foot in Crandon Park, you are standing in the middle of Miami history.