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 Mayor's Message
           April 16, 2005 >> Miami 21 Launch


There are many shining moments in the history of all good cities. Indeed, over our relatively short history we have had many. The rare moments are the defining ones. They are those exceptional events when men and women stepped back for the sake of their future – to plan their own path and their legacy for future generations.

Not coincidentally, these defining moments are often seen in the history of the world’s greatest cities.

1811, the Commissioners’ Plan for New York developed the grid plan for Manhattan. Prior to the advent of automobiles, buses or even skyscrapers. That event has defined New York and the island of Manhattan for already two centuries and beyond.

1853, Napoleon the Third commissioned Baron Georges Haussmann to transform Paris, converting it from an overgrown medieval city into a modern capital, and without question one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

1906, David Burnham produced a plan for Chicago – The Burnham Plan – which I believe to parallel our vision here for Miami 21 more than all others. Chicago’s greatness is a testament to Burnham’s vision.

Just as those, I believe that today will be a landmark in Miami’s chronicles. Coming generations will remember today as the day Miami took pause and planned its future. When Miami ceased being a city of potential and began to craft itself as one of the worlds greatest. Today is a defining moment – a moment that will shape the lives of Miami’s people.

Imagine the possibilities.   A young woman wakes up and pulls back her curtains. She reveals the beautiful vista of Biscayne Bay. She is about to head off to her job in Allapattah, where she works as a molecular biologist at the University of Miami Biotechnology Center – the top biomedical research center in America. But first she takes a morning jog on the City’s Baywalk that starts at Margaret Pace Park and continues all the way through the Miami River. During her jog she contemplates her plans for the evening. Should she accept an invitation to watch La Boheme at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, or should she spend an evening at Museum Park viewing a visiting exhibit from the Louvre?   A few blocks north in Wynwood a family gets ready to start their Day. The father hops on a streetcar at Midtown for a ride Downtown, where he’ll drop his child off at the early learning center in his office building. He then grabs an espresso at a sidewalk café on Biscayne Boulevard across from Bayfront Park. Meanwhile his wife is on the phone, buying tickets for a jazz concert in Overtown at the historic Lyric Theater followed by dinner at the Blues Club next door. She walks downstairs from her building and across the street to the boutique shops on North Miami Avenue before heading off to work in the Design District.   A Mega Yacht arrives from Dubai and docks at Watson Island – crew members come ashore, take a water taxi up the Miami River and grab a bife Argentino along the River Walk. They talk about the soccer match they will watch later that evening between Boca Juniors and Real Madrid at the refurbished Orange Bowl.   On a bustling, tree-lined Martin Luther King Boulevard, a family enjoys a walk under the tree canopy on their way to the splash pool at African Square Park. The children stop to connect with their heritage, visualized on the Freedom Art Wall.   Across town, an elderly gentleman strolls down an oak lined paseo in Little Havana to meet his friends at Domino Park.   Elsewhere, some friends listen to live Caribbean music at a restaurant over a plate of Gree-Oh while planning a visit to the neighborhood theater at the Little Haiti Cultural Park.   That evening men and women in Coconut Grove attend a black tie reception for the hemisphere’s trade ministers who are in Miami for their annual meeting at the secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. This is the Miami of the 21st Century.

From all over, people are moving back home to our city. The flight to the overcrowded and homogenous suburbs that marked the past has been replaced by a return to urban living. They do so for the opportunity to experience a vibrant center where diverse people live, work and play together. From the time I took office, our population has grown by over ten percent. By the end of this decade we could easily grow by another thirty percent. Contrast that with the one percent growth we experienced in the 1990s and seven percent growth we experienced from the 1970s through 2000. Miami is a leading urban center – fulfilling its long awaited destiny. Our city is going through a dramatic transformation and we are blessed with a never before seen urban renaissance.

Greatness, however, cannot be achieved without planning. And I am not speaking of Ad Hoc planning that is built upon an outdated and outmoded code as was done in the past. The plan we are launching today is revolutionary, never before attempted at this scale. It is a plan that touches every neighborhood in our city – because every city, no matter its size, is in the final analysis defined by its neighborhoods. We choose this time, at the start of a new century, to build on a foundation that was set at the beginning of the last century, when visionaries in another great city laid the plans for their own future.

It was the summer of 1906 when in Chicago, at the time a city of over 2 million residents, leaders made plans to temper urban growth with order and beauty. City Architect Daniel Burnham spoke of this plan saying:

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”

There is no reason that Miami, a city graced with unrivaled natural beauty, should not also be graced with great civic and green spaces. With public parks and promenades, museums and historic buildings. With areas that generate economic activity, are pedestrian friendly and accessible by convenient public transportation. A city planned in a way that provides predictability for citizens and crafts neighborhoods in a manner that befits our people. Miami 21 is more than a master plan; it is a comprehensive integrated plan of action that will provide the specific steps to implement our dream for Miami’s future. It solidifies the identity of our neighborhoods as centers of civic life… centers of community. It inspires the future where Miami will be spoken in the same breath as Paris, London, Buenos Aires and New York. Vibrant places where the human spirit guides the energy of the city and its inhabitants.

Great cities, large and small, are those that over time have embraced the opportunity to enhance the beautiful and generous public realm. The zones, spaces and buildings that create pride are equally owned by the people – irrespective of economic or social circumstance. Today we dream big dreams and we aim high in work and in hope. We do this because we owe a lasting legacy to those who will call Miami home long after we have gone.

I thank you for being here to join me in this great mission that will define the future of the City we love.

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