Safety Village, U.S.A. was the City of Tampa's 1965 Christmas present to the Children of Tampa.
kiddy-size town was designed to train pre-school, first and second grade
children in traffic, home, personal and fire safety habits.
Many distinctive buildings of Tampa during that time were represented here in a scaled down setting. The attraction was a popular school field trip in the 1970s.
It was a complete city with sidewalks, paved streets, working street lights, buildings which included a hospital, school and fire station. Safety Village was located right next to Fairyland and was touted as the "World's largest FREE safety school for children."
Local band the "Rovin' Flames" at the Safety Village Police Station, 1966.
The Go-Karts were discontinued due to accidents and the need for frequent maintenance.
Tampa Police Dept. when it was located at 1710 North Tampa St. 1960s.
Photo courtesy of David Fox
P.J. Shores and her brother in front of a split-level home at Safety Village, 1960s. Photo courtesy of P.J. Shores at the Facebook page "I support Safety Village..." etc.
The Children's Museum at Floriland Mall, Safety Village, and Kid City
Kid City got its start as the Children's Museum of Tampa in 1986 with Marian Winters and her friend Shelley Grossbard, who previously lived in Boston, a city with a renowned Children's Museum. The Tampa Children's Museum came about as an answer to every parent's age-old question, "Where can we take our children on a rainy day?"
"Our daughters were friends and Shelley said one day, 'Let's bring our kids to the Children's Museum and I said, 'What's that" Winters recalled. "She came from Boston. She thought there was one here."
So the two raised $18,000 and opened the Children's Museum of Tampa. The museum's 1986-87 budget called for $68,600 in expenditures but had only $7,700 of expected incoming donations. But the largest donation wasn't capital, it came in the form of 24,000 square feet of space in the Floriland Mall, in a storefront given by the mall's successive owners, the Juster Development Corp. and the Davis Villamill Corp. Marian and Shelley equipped the new museum with a bubble machine and a zoetrope. "We were hoping to have maybe 25 kids a week, and we had 300 people the first day," Winters said. Admission was $1.
It was a place where 2 to 12-year-olds could participate and pretend to work like their parents--with an old-fashioned telephone switchboard, or in a kid-size grocery store, post office, doctor's office, or comic strip publishing center.
Children were were to be accompanied by adults, whether parents or guardians. The adults became kids again, playing adult roles, such as in the grocery store, where they made lists, stocked shelves, and checked out purchases.
The City of Tampa, having its own budget problems, was unable to donate funds to the museum, but its park director Joe Abrahams assisted in locating city property for a permanent home for the museum. In 1989 museum backers negotiated a deal with the city of Tampa to lease Safety Village for $1 a year and in 1990 the museum relocated to the old Safety Village location north of Lowry Park.
Jan. 21, 1990 -
Members Of The Honeysuckle Garden Club and children visiting Safety
In February of 1992, admission to the museum was $2 for adults, $1.75 for the elderly and free to those 2 and younger, with Safety Village being included as part of the museum.
Safety Village as Kid City
In January 1999, the new image of Safety Village was unveiled as Kid City: the Children’s Museum of Tampa. In September 2001, a new toddler exhibit opened, providing two new learning environments for its youngest visitors.
The buildings were made a bit taller so children could actually go into the insurance office, fire station, radio station, McDonald's, Publix and City Hall. Kid City became home to bike safety classes, babysitting classes, Brownie troop activities — and birthday parties.
Planning for a new, larger museum began in the late 1990s, said Sandy Murman, chairman of the capital campaign that raised $20.5-million for the project. In 2004, Mayor Pam Iorio offered a downtown parcel for the museum, envisioning it as part of a cultural arts district that included a new Tampa Museum of Art, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and a renovated Curtis Hixon Park.
A long-range plan was completed in 2003 to establish goals for continued growth of the Museum, including acquisition of a new site, construction of new facilities, expanded programming, and fundraising to support its growth. In 2004, a feasibility study to launch a capital campaign was conducted by Ketchum fundraising consultants and a capital campaign committee was formed to raise funds for a new facility. An exhibit master plan was developed based on input from a series of focus groups made up of diverse community participants, including community leaders, parents and children.
Kid City Bites the Dust
Kid City's charter expired in 2008. Prior to closing its doors, Kid City, the Children’s Museum of Tampa reached over 20,000 children and families each year through exhibits, programs and services. The modest attraction that has hosted Tampa's Children's Museum for decades closed, with construction that was to start that same month on a sprawling new facility downtown at Curtis Hixon Park. Kid City bid adieu on Dec. 8, 2008 with a free open house from 1 to 8 p.m. and a closing ceremony at 6 p.m. which featured a proclamation by Mayor Pam Iorio.
Al Najjar, executive director of the Children's Museum, said closing Kid City was one of the most controversial issues the board faced when he was hired in 2007. With the buildings decaying and public funds running short, the board opted to close it. "It's not the end of an era," Najjar said. "It's the beginning of a new one."
In Sept. of 2010 it was demolished despite the wishes and efforts of many Tampa residents and even a Facebook Group. The city of Tampa deemed the site too expensive to take over and maintain and that the new Glazer Children's Museum downtown would fill the void.
The City of Tampa provided the Museum a land lease in downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on which to construct the facility. The three-story, 53,000-square-foot Children's Museum was set to open in mid 2010. It planned to feature 175 exhibits ranging from a theater where children can make video recordings of their performances to a multistory tree that kids can climb to follow the path of water from the tree's roots to clouds above. The old Kid City was to become storage space for its downtown replacement. "I'm nostalgic about what we started," Winters said. "But when your children go off to college, they grow up, they mature. And that's what the museum has done."
In October, 2007, the Museum was named the Glazer Children’s Museum in honor of the Glazer Family Foundation’s lead gift of $5 million. Construction of the building began in March 2009 and was completed in April 2010. The Museum opened its doors to the public on September 25, 2010.
Safety Village / Children's Museum / Kids City