Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Seaside, Florida, Part 1

Seaside, Florida is a cool walking town. Of course, it was built to be a cool walking town, or at least a town that you can traverse on foot without much strain -- compact and with smallish houses that sit pretty close to one another. Last week I walked around town for about an hour and a half, which is how I spent most of my precious free time on the press trip to Florida.

Sea kayaking was another (theoretical) option for that free time. Call me eccentric, but I didn’t want to jam a new sport into such a short period. I did want to see the granddaddy town of New Urbanism, however.

Seaside radiates a few blocks in each direction (except into the ocean) from a community green along its main road, Florida 30A. On the green is a post office almost small enough to put in your back pocket, and ringing the green is retail and (I think) office space that’s somewhat larger, up to four stories tall. On the beach side of the road is a complex of beachy restaurants and shops: places to eat cheeseburgers and drink beer al fresco or shop for colorful dresses or sandals, not so different from other beach retail.

Below is the Seaside post office. If I'd had anything to mail, I would have gone inside.

Next is the cheeseburger-in-paradise joint: Pickles Snack Station, serving among other refreshments, Land Shark Lager, a Anheuser Busch Co. brew pretending to be from Jacksonville and having something to do with Jimmy Buffett. Beyond the beach retail complex is the beach itself, preternaturally white, and mostly only accessible to residents of Seaside and their guests, though I found at least two public access points.

And below is some of the larger retail ringing Seaside’s green. I understand that it’s fairly new, and after I got a look at the rest of the town, I too felt that it was out of scale with everything else.

More tomorrow.



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