The boards of the Pan Am Historical Foundation and Pan American Airways Museum commend your Oct. 22 editorial, Open up Miami’s waterfront. For thousands of our members and supporters who have been seeking to preserve the legacy of Pan American World Airways, the Grove Bay plan may present the possibility of achieving our goal of establishing a permanent exhibition to commemorate Pan Am’s contributions to international commercial aviation.
Pan Am built what is today City Hall in the early 1930’s, thereby establishing America’s first international hub to link the Americas. This building soon became the birthplace of transoceanic air travel. Pan Am played a pioneering role in creating an air bridge between Miami and the Caribbean and throughout the Americas through the pioneering spirit of such aviation icons as Juan Trippe and Charles Lindbergh, as well as many loyal employees who built a worldwide aviation empire.
Dinner Key, and later at Pan Am Field off of 36th Street, which is today Miami International Airport, were terminus points for countless immigrants who came to the United States to begin a new life and millions of leisure and business travelers who contributed to the economic development of Miami. This is an “airline” town with thousands of retirees from Pan Am, National Airlines, Eastern Air Lines and Arrow Air, among many others.
Our organizations have been approached by the developers of Grove Bay and positive discussions have begun with the goal of establishing a lasting exhibition to honor the many achievements of Pan Am aimed at highlighting the historic bond between our airline and the great city of Miami. Along with our partners at the University of Miami Richter Library, which holds Pan Am’s archival records, and HistoryMiami, where our historic artifacts are being preserved, we have access to irreplaceable items which would add to the Grove Bay project’s cultural and historic appeal and stimulate visits from aviation enthusiasts.
The editorial refers to the developer’s “solid plan.” We concur. How appropriate to establish a “new vibe” along Coconut Grove’s waterfront, revitalizing the footprint of America’s first aviation hub.
Edward S. Trippe, chairman, and C. W. “Pete” Runnette, president, Pan Am Historical Foundation, Miami