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What is Florida?


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To me, Florida isn't its beaches. Florida is millenia-old oak hammocks, marshes, swamps, palmetto scrub; it is La Floride -- flowers, trees, brush as DeLeon and DeSoto saw it. Florida is equal parts rural, metropolitan, and coastal. Florida is the rolling, granite hills in the middle of the state that gave foot hold to the coral that eventually became our bedrock and sandy beaches. Florida is hot, humid summers and mild winters with springs and autumns that demand all windows in the house be opened and the A/C turned off.

Unfortunately, Florida is steadily being eroded away because of its beaches. La Floride is being trampled upon mostly in its coastal regions. Marshes are routinely filled in for homes and dredged for boat docks behind them. Oak hammocks are routinely clearcut for shopping centers, apartments, and subdivisions. The high, decorative towers of metropolitan Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and even Miami are still being abandoned for low, squat, lifeless shoe boxes built where life recently grew wild.

Fortunately, a new breed of Floridian has arrived. The New Urbanite, who sees the value in strong, vibrant, revived city centers that are perfect for home, work, and play. New, old-schoolers who want to be able to walk to work, dinner or a play and don't mind not sitting in traffic every day of the week. They are individuals and families who, directly or indirectly, are working to preserve all those things that Florida was while still enjoying the conveniences of this modern age. They're even people who don't necessarily see the prestige in having the word "beach" in the name of the city where they live (except for West Palm Beach, which doesn't even have a beach and should probably simply be called "Palm")

Florida is alive; and life, precious and fragile as it is, will persist -- even with beaches.

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Juicy. Maybe this should go in the general Florida forum.

But I'll have to disagree. Florida's oak hammocks are but a small part of what makes Florida, Florida. Florida is definitely what you described. It's also beaches. It's miles and miles of pine trees, cypress swamps, sawgrass prairies, island hideaways, tourist beaches, cracker country, fishing villages, dry highlands, panhandle blackwater, cites, suburbs, interstates, outlet malls, roadside attractions, etc etc etc. Florida is oranges, grapefruit, limes, tomatoes, corn, tobacco, sugar cane, cucumbers, strawberries, pole beans, watermelons. Florida is Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando. Florida is Two Egg, Palatka, Wauchula, Baldwin. Florida is St. Pete, Naples, Ocala, The Villages. Florida is Marineland and Seaworld. Florida is Cypress Gardens, Weeki-Wachi and Parrot Jungle. Florida is Disney, Universal and Busch Gardens. Florida is Little Havana, Ybor City, Tarpon Springs.

well... I could go on for a long time. I already have, but this is florida as i've seen it. I've seen a lot of it. From Pensacola to Jacksonville to Key west to Everglades City. It can't be pigeonholed.

Anyways, I think we probably agree, but I don't see why beaches have to be left out of it. You want the best urban neighborhood in Florida? You're going to have to go a beach for that. Early tourist were attracted to Florida's inland as much they were to it's wild beaches.

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I am not really sure if this is a commercial for Florida, or for new urbanism. First Florida, in the true philosophical sense... florida is what you remember florida being from childhood or adulthood. it is beaches where one used to play as a child, the wonder of Disney World. The endless drive along 95 where the pine trees seemed to make it all one big forest. It is nightlife and resorts, it is backwoods farms and "cracker"... getting a speeding ticket in Waldo. Florida is different for all of us, and that is what makes it home.

and new urbanism... this is the birth place. as an alum of the SOA at the University of Miami, i learned that new urbanism isn't an ideal... it's a code book. New urbanism is a social ideal that forget half of the socirty. It is talked about a way to transform the city, these sort of ideas would make the blight of the inner city go away, but the last time i looked at the prices of houses in places like Seaside and Windsor>>> i lacked a couple of 0's in my bank account. the true test of new urbanism will be Aqua in miami, intergrating the new urbanist ideals with modern architecture. will be it open to the masses... probably not, a nice gated community.

is there to much developing going on in florida, probably. does it bring more jobs and prosperity to the state, yes. but we have what everyone wants, temperate weather and jobs. what does one do.???

p.s. read an article the other day where a woman reported seeing the infamous Florida Skunk ape... now that's FLORIDA!!

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first and foremost, take Florida's geography... it's a peninsula - a land mass borders on 3 sides by water, thus beaches. I am not sure of this but aren't we one of maybe 3 states with the most linear footage of beach? I agree that Florida is more than the beach, howver, I think if you took a general concesus around the nation, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Florida is either "beach" or "Disney World" and a close third would be snow-birds - not oaks, not swamp, not hammocks.

I do agree though that Florida is much more than beaches, it's hot, humid, rain, sun, golf, tennis, green, sand, railroad, rivers, lakes, etc. Above all, to me Florida is home and beautiful in everything it has to offer.

Sorry got a bit sappy there, but it is. Florida has such a wide range of variety to offer visitors and residents. It's history is rich and it's future is bright.

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As far as the larger cities go, Jacksonville's back woods reputation has always kept it the last bastion of coastal old Florida and I see it slipping away. As a Jacksonville native, I have always spent a great deal of time at the beach (it is a little hard to surf elsewhere) and appreciated the lack of high-rise condos, etc.. along the shore. Granted, the blight that once graced the area east of 3rd St. was ugly and unkind (hell, west of 3rd still looks like a hockey player's grin in places) but it didn't have monolithic structures lording over the beach, forcing their cold, dark shadows upon the earth below. The beaches are a great and wonderful part of our state, we just fail to emphasize much of the rest the state has to offer.

I thought of starting this thread after reading the one on the city's new marketing slogan (Jacksonville: Where Florida Begins). The slogan could not be more dead-on. I would imagine nearly all of what comprises Florida could be found within the Jacksonville city limits; granted, the city is MASSIVE. No, we have no Okeechobee, Everglades, Mangroves, or American Crocodiles but the little pieces that fill the puzzle in and make it recognizeable and give it true continuity are all here. I have listened all my life to people call Jacksonville more south Georgia than Florida but most people don't know what Florida is. Jacksonville is Florida.

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