KEY WEST, FLORIDA
Photograph by Roger WollstadtAs a young boy, I remember Key West, the southernmost point in Florida (and the contiguous 48 states) as a slow paced oceanside vacation spot perfect for a family getaway. I would sample the allure and take in the relaxed feel of the place. It was great for anyone who loved fishing or snorkeling. I remember seeing a lot of working locals and a small segment of stop-over visitors.
Photograph by Ed DeGuzman
Today, Key West has flip-flopped. It is saturated by tourist traffic and seems to be dotted sparsely with the working class. Kitschy t-shirt and souvenir shops rule the ports and cater to eager cruise ship guests. This is the part of Key West which has lost its small island appeal. However, the bee-hive bars and electric streets continue to attract the masses. COED Magazine dubbed it the 2nd trashiest 2012 spring break destination. Apparently, this is a compliment.
When you travel further away from the port, you definitely sense a "local" calm and feel. The distinctive Key West architecture and sub-tropical setting puts you in another space where writers like Ernest Hemmingway, Robert Frost and Tennessee Williams were inspired by the palm tree paradise of their day. It is a compelling scene that makes you want to read Wallace Steven's haunting poetic piece called, "The Idea of Order at Key West."
Photograph by Jane Volk