Friday, October 12, 2007

The Last Photo Series of Seaside, Florida, Taken With a Camera I Hadn't Quite Learned How to Use

One more posting on Seaside. After the retail district and the church, I wandered down a few residential streets. Seaside isn't actually a town in the sense that people live there most of the time. For all its New Urbanist fame, it's still a resort town, meaning that many owners reside there a only few weeks out of the year, along with renters who come and go. Summer's supposed to be fairly busy, as is Christmas and spring break.

In early October, the town felt empty. But the place was lush, and the houses marked by colorful variety, grouped close together to promote high density and walkability. It promoted walking in my case, anyway. I saw only one or two other pedestrians, a couple of bicyclists and one car drive by in the hour or so that I spent on the streets, looking at things and taking pictures.

Pretty soon I noticed that each of the houses had a name, most whimsical, though I'd made a mistake in not taking a pen or paper with me, since I can't remember any of them except a pink bungalow called -- not something I would call my house -- Dreamsicle. Unlike much of Seaside, I understand that house-naming wasn't part of the plan, but spontaneous. Some of the houses were tucked away further from the ocean were fairly modest (in size, not price), such as this one. (Looking at the photo very closely, I see that the house's name is The Panhandle, Circa 1983.)

Others, especially closer to the ocean, were larger. Just daring a hurricane to come along: "C'mon, ya want a piece of me, huh, punk storm?" Actually, hurricanes Opal in 1995 and Dennis in 2005 did hit near Seaside, and from what I've read, the town itself held up fairly well, though the beaches suffered temporarily. Below is a larger structure, with an emblematic Seaside tower, evoking the widow walks of New England:

I liked this tower:

Below is half of a narrow boulevard, lush with growth in the center. Note the picket fences, which are standard in Seaside. Porches are too. Does that made the town phony somehow? No, I just suspect that some people have ridiculous standards of "authenticity," especially as it applies to places they don't live.

This is the other half of the boulevard.



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