Fort Lauderdale's Bicentennial Liberty Live Oak Tree (Revision)
The City of Fort Lauderdale’s Bicentennial Liberty Live Oak tree, located adjacent to the Riverwalk area within Bubier Park, is approaching 250 years and I recently uncovered a trove of information and photographs documenting the tree’s relocation, providing a unique look into the past.
Live Oak Tree: September 1976
The live oak tree was donated to the City by Judge Robert O’Toole in early 1976 at over 200 years old. It was originally located near southeast 1st avenue and southeast 6th street in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The tree weighed over 50 tons and had a height of 30-35 feet and an average spread of 50-feet. Its relocation was considered to be the largest successful bare-root transplant of a tree in the world at that time.
The City’s then Urban Forester, Mike Moore, coordinated the relocation and preservation of the live oak tree. It had to be root pruned and braced before transport. The project was a massive undertaking and required coordination from multiple entities including the Florida Forest Service, FPL, Eller Company, Powell Brothers and Koch Towing Company. At one point, the City’s Fire Department was also called in to help free the tree roots from coral rock after a cable snappedduring transport. After five months of preparation, over 40 personnel, a flatbed truck, and river barge along with three broken 155 ton steel cables the tree was successfully relocated on September 8, 1976.
On June 27, 1978, the live oak tree was renamed the Bicentennial Live Oak Tree as part of the dedication for the Robert H. Bubier Memorial Park. It was later renamed the Bicentennial Liberty Live Oak Tree, with installation of an official plaque, at a ceremony on September 11, 2002 in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 horrific events. Disney World’s Liberty Tree served as the original inspiration for the plaque dedication and wording as authored by Doug Eagon of the Stiles Corporation.
Today the Bicentennial Liberty Live Oak Tree is still doing fairly well at almost 250 years. Significant work was done to improve the tree’s overall health and vitality after impacts from a storm in August 2017. With such a historic past, the City will continue ongoing tree management efforts to preserve the tree well into the future!