Miami’s Freedom Tower Goes National

Catherine A. Jones
 | September 25, 2023

Credit: Rob Olivera

PBS’ digital streaming series “Visions of America – All Stories, All People, All Places” returns tomorrow, Sept. 27 at 8 pm ET with a new episode devoted to Miami’s iconic Freedom Tower.

Long known as Miami’s equivalent to the Statue of Liberty, the tower has stood tall for almost 100 years, and has hosted Cuban refugees fleeing their home country since the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

Originally constructed in 1925 as the headquarters of the Miami News & Metropolis newspaper, the Freedom Tower’s original design was inspired by the Giralda tower of the Seville Cathedral in Spain.

In the 1960s, it served as a processing center for Cuban refugees who were fleeing Dictator Fidel Castro’s communist regime. Thousands of Cuban refugees passed through the Freedom Tower during this time, seeking asylum and a new life in the U.S.

In 2008, the Freedom Tower was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Today, it houses the Cuban Exile Experience and the Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College. The building also serves as a cultural and educational center, commemorating the Cuban-American experience and its significance in Miami’s history.

In the episode, viewers will explore the interior of the Freedom Tower with Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega. They will also be joined by Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ada Ferrer, author of Cuba: An American History, who also “shares about the Cuban-immigrant experience in the United States.

The program will also venture to Little Havana and its famous Versailles restaurant, while introducing viewers to Miami community leaders including Aida Levitan, President of ArtesMiami, Alberto Ibargüen, President of The Knight Foundation, and Sam Verdeja, Founder of Facts About Cuban Exiles. These cultural leaders discuss Miami’s growth – plus the city’s unique past, present, and future.

History ‘Under the Radar’

A joint production of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and PBS Books, the digital series was created to honor the sestercentennial (250-year) anniversary of the United States’ independence.  It explores our post-pandemic nation with a renewed interest in the places, people, and stories that have contributed to the America we live in today.

“Civil discourse is greatly needed today, and our most trusted civic and cultural institutions must play the central role of its restoration,” IMLS Director, and PBS show host, Crosby Kemper said about his PBS series.


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