Historic Markers Across Florida

NAS Miami Pan Am Seaplane Base

Marker ID: FLHM F-889
Location: Pan American Blvd and South Bayshore Dr, Coconut Grove, Miami, FL
County: Miami-Dade
Coordinates: N 25° 43.786    W 080° 14.168
  25.72976666    -80.23613333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMXNEY


NAS Miami Pan Am Seaplane Base

(Side 1)
Known as the “Air Gateway between the Americas”, the Pan American Seaplane Base and Terminal Building is significant in the history of modern air transportation and is an outstanding example of air terminal design. In 1929, Pan American Airways began seaplane service, between the United States and Latin America, on the site of the former Miami Naval Air Station, which had been destroyed by the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. Pan Am's first hangar was constructed in 1931. The first passengers left from a houseboat “terminal” anchored nearby until this permanent terminal building was constructed in 1934. In the 1930s, the base was one of the nation's busiest commercial seaplane airports. In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed through the base on his way to Casablanca, marking the first time a U.S. president had traveled by air while in office. The last Pan Am flight left the terminal in 1945, and the site was sold to the City of Miami the next year. Some of the hangers were demolished, and the terminal building became the Miami City Hall in 1954. The terminal's main waiting room now serves as the Miami City Commission's chambers.

(Side 2)
In its day, this Art Deco style building was the largest, most modern marine air terminal in the world. Its painted frieze contains images from the history of aviation and the signs of the zodiac. The seaplane base was designed for both aerial and land views. A long straight entry drive with median represents an airplane's fuselage. The maintenance hangers on each side were angled in a “V”-shape towards the north representing wings, and point to the Art Deco terminal building. A circular revolving globe sculpture at the main entrance, used for determining the movement of planes. This terminal's design was a model for air terminals in the United States and abroad, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The City of Miami received a historic preservation grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources in 2007 for assistance with their restoration of the building.

Florida Heritage Site
Sponsored by Coconut Grove Civic Club
and the Florida Department of State