It seems ironic but entirely fitting that an early 19th century gathering spot for hunters and travelers emerged as Tallahassee’s “newest” attraction with modern touches and amenities now complementing one of the state’s most historic sites.
Once again, Cascades Park is a gathering spot for residents and visitors. Its significance earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
This is where a stream known as the St. Augustine branch and waterfall influenced the territorial government’s decision on the placement of a capital city. Located less than a quarter of a mile from Florida’s Capitol, the park features an entertainment venue, a family-oriented playscape, fitness trails and tributes to its history that spans four centuries.
For many, the centerpiece is the graceful canopy of Cascades Park Amphitheater, home to musical, theatrical and other community events. It features more than 1,500 permanent seats and a sloping landscaped area for more than 2,000 festival seats.
A literal centerpiece is Meridian Plaza where a marker designates the spot from which all surveys in Florida are calculated. The adjacent Cascade Fountain commemorates the selection of Florida’s capital in October, 1823.
Discovery at Cascades, an initiative by the Knight Creative Communities Institute (KCCI), showcases a variety of Florida environments, habitat gardens and play areas for children.
Centennial Field and the Smokey Hollow Commemoration pay tribute to other periods of the city and park’s history. Centennial Field was originally built in 1924, commemorating Tallahassee’s 100th anniversary. It hosted political rallies, graduations and other community events and served as the home field for Florida State University football (1947-49) and a semi-professional baseball team.
From 1890 until it fell victim to urban renewal in the 1960s, Smokey Hollow was a thriving black community. Three “spirit houses” replicate the shotgun houses that were common in the neighborhood. A fully restored barber shop is a tribute to the businesses that served the community.
Construction on the 24-acre park started in 2010 with official opening ceremonies held in March, 2014.