Initially, the land occupied by Crandon Park was purchased in 1908 by John Matheson. The land was 1700 acres and he utilized it by planting the largest coconut plantation in the United States (Bühler, Schlaich, & Sinner, 2018). In 1933 due to the great depression, the global price of coconuts and its products fell by almost two-fifths of the initial price. The plantation had to stop the shipping of its products. The heirs of Commodore William John Matheson in 1940 gave the land to the Dade county government with a condition that it had to be used as a public park. The land donation prompted the Dade chairman to have a causeway built to connect Key Biscayne to the mainland Miami. The Crandon Park, named after Chairman Charles Crandon, was officially opened to the public alongside the Rickenbacker Causeway connecting Miami mainland to Key Biscayne.In 1948, the Dade’s County bought a goat, two black bears, and three monkeys from a stranded caravan ferrying members of a show. This was the offset of the current Zoo Miami that rose from Crandon Park’s botanical garden. The federal government of Dade set aside fifty-three acres’ land and named it Zoological Gardens. The South Florida Zoology Society aided the facility resulting in numerous addition to the menagerie’s exhibits and improvements. The zoo had over 1000 animals with an average of 380 species under its roof by 1985 earning it a place amongst the most popular zoos in the country. The facility had the first successful birth and nurturing of an aardvark in captivity. This was in 1967 and the aardvark developed and later gave birth at the zoo. The number of aardvarks born at the Crandon zoo increased to seventeen according to the county government administration. The zoo also managed to raise Asian elephants which gave birth to two progenies. Two rare southern bald eagles were conceived in the zoo, an occurrence taking place in over fifty years.
Currently, the zoo, which is the only tropical one in the United States, roofs over 3000 animals and features over a hundred exhibits. It is 750 acres whereby 324 acres is developed. The zoo which is run by the Miami –Dade County government has a number of lions. Also added in the park by the Matheson plantation were Galapagos tortoises, monkeys, and pheasants which further increased the zoo’s population. Unfortunately, in 1965 Hurricane Betsy killed 250 animals in the zoo. In 1968 a Bengal tiger was added to the zoo. However, around this time, the county was increasing its land resources. It acquired additional parks such as Tamiami Park in 1962, the Castellow Hammock also in 1962. The Amelia Earhart was purchased by the county in 1964 and the Palmetto Golf Course in 1967.
The county had a joint use agreement in 1969 with the Dade County School District (Sinner et al., 2018). The deal provided for joint maintain and use of the park/school properties. The county finalized on its open space and recreation master plan in 1969 (Bühler, Schlaich, & Sinner, 2018). The county’s population was roughly one million two hundred thousand people. The Crandon Marina Park sat at approximately seven thousand two hundred and fifty-six acres of land that included numerous facilities such as neighborhood parks, mini parks, metropolitan parks, nature preserves, wayside parks, and ornamental areas. The park also had an undesignated and undeveloped open space land occupying approximately 115 acres.
The plan put in place an assertive agenda for the growth of the park system to meet the demand that was on the rise. The County people approved the Decade of Progress Bond Referendum in 1972. The federal government would use the bond money to acquire and upgrade the tropical park, Amelia Earhart Park, Black Point Marina, Metro zoo and other neighboring parks (Bulit, 2015). By this time the zoo had been reopened in 1980 July 4th as Miami Metro zoo due to the destruction done by the Hurricane Betsy. It had a selection of exhibits from Asia, Africa, and Australia. The zoo faced another disaster first from Hurricane Andrew then from stray dogs which killed five Thompson gazelles and two grants gazelles. In 1996 wildfire destroyed the south-east part of the zoo undeveloped land.
The Miami-Dade Federal government mandated Florida Inland Navigation District which sponsors the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway on behalf of the state to renovate the Crandon Marina Park. The new developments include state of the art marina facilities, new charter boat docks and a seawall which gives boaters better security and access. This occurred on June 4th, 2014 led by the county Miami-Dade district commissioners and the Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos A.Gimenez (Bulit, 2015). Some of the modifications done to the previous facilities included the replacement of the previous concrete seawall with a new sheet pile seawall that is made of deeply ground galvanized steel piles in concrete. A new boat slip was added as well south of the site.
The Crandon Marina Park in Miami Dade County is a breathtaking destination with several fascinating facilities and sites. The development of these facilities has been actively foreseen by the Federal government of Miami-Dade from the 1940s to date with several parks created and modifications added over time to build the current Crandon Marina Park in Miami.