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Cascades Park, home of Florida's Prime Meridian Marker

Cascades Park near downtown Tallahassee
Posted at 5:05 AM, Apr 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 12:54:28-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — With its beautiful design and numerous amenities, one local park has been a hub in our community for the past seven years.

Cascades Park extends across 24 acres near downtown Tallahassee. The park is known for its beauty but designed with an important function.

"It's a storm water management facility, designed as a world class park," Tallahassee Assistant City Manager Wayne Tedder said. "While it looks incredible for everyone that comes here, it serves a major purpose to address not only storm water flooding but also storm water treatment that is necessary to protect our lakes downstream of this facility."

Tedder oversaw the construction of the park from 2010 to 2014. He said people in Leon County voted with a 60 percent majority to add a one-cent sales tax to build this project.

"What turned out to be a $34 million investment for Cascades Park has turned into a $150 million economic opportunity for our community," Tedder said.

The park is benefiting the Tallahassee economy with new apartments, restaurants and a hotel under construction.

Tedder said the name Cascades is an important piece of history for this part of town dating back to the 1820s.

"The governor at the time sent two representatives, from St. Augustine and Pensacola, to find a place to establish the capital of Florida," Tedder said. "They met just a couple of steps from where I'm standing today (at the park), and they came up to a cascading waterfall and that waterfall fell into a pool of water. This park recreates that cascading waterfall that used to be in this area."

This established Florida's Prime Meridian Marker in Tallahassee, serving as the beginning point for Florida’s Prime Meridian of the north, south, east and west surveying lines.

However, before it was Cascades park, in 1924, Centennial Field was established here. At the time, this is where some of the best athletes in the area trained and performed.

Even an original wall and staircase from that time remains because of design input from Tallahassee natives like Shauna Smith.

She helped established the FAMU Way corridor from the university to the park.

"That road, use to be called canal street," Smith said. "It literally was a street along a very deadly canal with no railing. It was very dangerous."

Smith said people use to be banned from entering this part of town due to contamination issues, which were resolved by adding the park and the corridor.

"It's a cool connection, beautiful bridge entrance way into Florida A&M University," Smith said.

Now hundreds of people each day enjoy a meal, exercise or hang out with their furry friends in the area.

"To me is the best because this park really brings people together," Tedder said.

And that makes this park, a growing hub downtown, Totally Tallahassee.

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