Friday, February 19, 2010

The Southernmost Entry

Key West is a fascinating crossroads of cultures. Mix Carribean, New Orleans, Antebellum, and a dash of pirate, add a jigger of booze, mardi gras and crass tee-shirts, stir, and you've got the proper vibe. Even in this week's 50 degree weather, people came to Duval Street ready to party.
Funny what captures one's imagination. The Southernmost marker, with lines of tourists snaking down the street, is one of the most photographed images in Key West, right next to the popular mile zero marker for Highway 1. Proof of one's existence perhaps.
Another well-documented image is the beautiful banyon tree on Whitehead Street. Since we stayed at The Banyon House, a quaint complex of renovated historical residences, we watched nearly every passerby stop and snap a picture of this unusual tree. Originally from India, the banyon spreads its sinewy roots above ground, creating a cathedral-like space out of its limbs.
For me, what has captured my imagination on all three of my visits to the area was of course the architecture-- some of the best preserved examples of 19th century vernacular. My favorite? Oddly enough the eyelid window-- what a terrible idea to stick a series of windows under the porch where hot air is trapped. From rain capture to front porches, as we look to the past to see which passive systems worked, and in this case, which failed, Key West can certainly offer some modern-day insights.

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