Saturday, June 2, 2012

Notes on Key West: Part Four

One of the joys of traveling to a place is simply walking around and paying attention to the things that make it what it is: the architecture, the plants, the local music, and so on. When it comes to this aspect of traveling, Key West is one of the best destinations in America, since the entire island is only two miles long by four miles wide and the Old Town section -- where most of the action and history are found -- is concentrated on the western end. Combine this small size with the island’s distinctive building styles and cultural eccentricities, and the result is a pedestrian’s dream come true.

Duval Street is Old Town’s main thoroughfare and offers up many attractive buildings. This one was built in 1919 and has been the home of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church ever since:

The next one houses the San Carlos Institute, founded by Cuban exiles in 1871, and has obvious Spanish influences. Jose Marti referred to it as “La Casa Cuba” and it was there that he launched the final phase of his campaign for Cuba’s independence 120 years ago:

And how can it possibly be that a convenience store from a ubiquitous national chain can be interesting to look at? Turns out it’s easy. Just situate it in an old house where there are no parking spaces and no room for gas pumps:

There is no reason to stay only on Duval, however. Venture down side streets and you will find that pretty much every house is interesting because of the simple designs and old-style tin roofs:

You might enjoy the fact that you can see banana trees and papaya trees bearing fruit without having to leave the United States, and you will find it perfectly quirky that chickens run wild in town:

SavannahGeorgia is widely regarded as America’s best walking city, largely because of the verdant squares that beautify its historic district, but I am here to tell you that Key West is at least its equal. In closing, here is a picture of an abandoned 1920's movie theater that was reborn as a Walgreens in the last decade. There’s something about that you gotta appreciate:

1 comment:

  1. Interesting photos and description of this unique place. I've never been there, but I'd love to visit and take a walking tour.