Safety Village / Children's Museum / Kid City


Notice City Hall just right of center and Curtis Hixon Hall convention center at left with blue roof.

 

 

Safety Village, U.S.A. was the City of Tampa's 1965 Christmas present to the Children of Tampa.

The kiddy-size town was designed to train pre-school, first and second grade children in traffic, home, personal and fire safety habits.
 


Safety Village brochure from Flickr, Jordan Smith, cardboardamerica


Boy and girl standing on sidewalk in front of Community Church, Safety Village at Lowry Park.
Color postcard from eBay.


Go Karts on street near City Hall, Safety Village at Lowry Park circa 1965.  Color postcard from eBay.


Safety Village color postcard, Police officer at main entrance, circa 1965. 
From barbaracaywood at Old Florida on Pinterest.

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.
Photo from
RICHES of Central Florida

Coaster cars (go karts) in front of Tampa City Hall at Safety Village with police officer directing traffic, 1966 from Florida Memory State Library & Archives https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/82601

The Go-Karts were discontinued due to accidents and the need for frequent maintenance.
 
Coaster cars (go karts) in front of Tampa City Hall at Safety Village with police officer directing traffic, 1966.
Photo from Tumblr.


Jan. 5, 1966 Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 


Children being taught road safety in the residential neighborhood at Safety Village, Lowry Park, circa 1966, Gettly images.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


October 10 1977..A group of children learn to use the telephone in an emergency, Safety Village.
 Photo & caption from Tama Bay Times archives courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.


May 30, 1987 - Joe Reilly does carpentry work on church entrance at Safety Village.
Photo & caption from Tama Bay Times archives courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.
 


June 7, 1987 St. Pete Times article, Photo by Mike Pease
 

The Children's Museum at Floriland Mall, Safety Village, and Kid City

The Children's Museum at Floriland Mall, 1987
Photo from Tampa Bay Magazine, Jul.-Aug. 1987

 

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.

 


See more photos in the newspaper article
Snakes Alive!
In March of 1988, Dennis & Carol brought their snake show to the Children's Museum at Floriland Mall to give children a closer look at them.  The Moores performed with the snakes at Busch Gardens and often took them on the road as stars of the Snakes Alive! show.  The show was an educational program designed to shed the reptiles' reputation as slimy, scary creatures and to teach children that most snakes are harmless and helpful to the environment.

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.


August 17, 1990 - Marian Winters (Children's Museum co-founder) tells girls from Brownie Troop about the mural.
It is an exhibit at Safety Village.   Photo & caption from Tama Bay Times archives courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

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.


June 3, 1994 - Students from Sanders Elementary School (Pasco County) enjoy the newly renovated safety village as they sit inside the Peoples Gas building and look through books. The kids are now able to walk through each building and participate in the activities that are placed inside. Before the renovation, kids could only look through the windows. Photo & caption from Tama Bay Times archives courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 


Aug. 31, 1994 -The United Way's "Day of Caring" is designed to kick off the 1994 United Way Campaign and show volunteers and donors firsthand how United Way agencies are at work. Instead of doing their usual jobs, teams of volunteers from businesses and organizations were matched with United Way agencies for a day of volunteer service. At Safety Village, Burdines employees escorted four and five year olds from Helping Hand Day Nursery on a field trip. Abby Blackburn helps start a group of children across a street in the Village.
Photo & caption from Tama Bay Times archives courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 

July 22, 1996 - Tony Michaud with his tiny 1969 Subaru van at the Children's Museum of Tampa at Safety Village in Lowry Park.  Photo from Tampa Bay Times archives courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 


Safety Village by Ryan Newman


 

 

The photos below are from 1996-97 and were contributed by Ryan Newman. 

In his "spare time," Ryan is attempting to reconstruct the original Safety Village digitally.


 

 

 

 

If you have any old photos of Safety Village, before it became Kid City in the late 1980s, please contact Ryan at his Facebook page.  You can help him bring this great old place back to life so we can once again relive our childhood memories of Safety Village, USA!

If you're not on Facebook, contact me here: 


Special thanks to Ryan Newman for providing these photos of Safety Village below.
 


 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Newman at the Safetyrailroad station, Safety Village, circa 1996-97.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Ryan Newman at the Safetyrailroad station, Safety Village, circa 1996-97.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Safety Village street scene, March 1997.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 


Safety Village street scene, March 1997.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 

 


Miniature model of downtown, the Hillsborough River and the harbor, Safety Village.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 

 

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.

 

 

2006 photos of Kid City below from Wamke Family at Flickr

   
   
  Building at right used to be the Community Church
   
Publix grocery store

 

 
  Tampa Electric Company power station

 

  City Hall

 

 

 

Main St. in front of City Hall
Photo from Trekaroo.com
 

 

 


Photos of Kid City 2007 contributed by Ryan Newman

If you have any old photos of Safety Village, before it became Kid City in the late 1980s, please contact Ryan Newman at his Facebook page.  He is reconstructing Safety Village digitally according to his memory of it and old photos!

You can help him bring this great old place back to life so we can once again relive our childhood memories of Safety Village, USA!
If you're not on Facebook, contact me here: 

 

 

Fire & Rescue Station at Kid City, 2007.  Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.
   

Ryan in front of Tampa City Hall at Kid City, 2007.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 

 The music shop (?) at Kid City, 2007. Formerly the Community Church.  Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 

Ryan in front of the Post Office at Kid City, 2007.  Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

   

 

Kid City, 2007.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.
   

 

The Library at Kid City, 2007.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

   

 

Kid City, 2007.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.
   

 

Ryan in front of McDonald's at Kid City, 2007. Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

   

 

Kid City, 2007.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.
   

 

The residential neighborhood at Kid City, 2007.  Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.
   

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.

Safety Village/Kids City bites the dust, Sept. 22, 2010.

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.

 



Now it sits as a vacant lot overgown with weeds.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Newman.

 

Sources:
What's Doing In Tampa, by Tampa resident Sara Kennedy, Published Dec. 3, 1989, New York Times

What's Doing In Tampa, by Tampa resident Sara Kennedy, Published Feb 2, 1992, New York Times
Original Kid City Closes, But New One Coming, Tampa Bay Times article by Janet Zink, Dec. 8, 2008.
Glazer Children's Museum History.

 


The Glazer Children's Museum downtown Tampa, as seen from Plant Park across the Hillsborough River, April 2, 2011.


Lowry Park & Fairyland

 

Safety Village / Children's Museum / Kids City

 

Dr. Bragg's Fantasia Golf

 

Saving Fairyland!

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