I have had the great pleasure of visiting many communities across America ranging in size from hamlet to town to major city. This includes visits to parts of 49 states. Until this past week’s visit to St. Augustine, Florida I never really contemplated the notion of “the most beautiful downtown.” But I must say, my vote would be awarded to this historic and stately city along Florida’s First Coast.
- the narrow brick streets and alleys (many are carless);
- the second-story overhanging balconies;
- the ceiling fans on porches;
- the hidden courtyards and gardens;
- captivating doorways;
- the architectural handiwork;
- glimpses of the harbor, the lighthouse, or the Bridge of Lions; and
- the love and care put into each and every historic building.
Being America’s oldest continuously inhabited European settled city (since 1565), helps St. Augustine exude history and lore from every single crack and crevice.
If one were to measure importance just based on the number of historic markers, St. Augustine would rank right up there with Boston and Philadelphia. Throw in a gorgeously scenic harbor location astride the Atlantic Ocean and its rich, varied cultures (Spanish, Native-American, English, African-American, Caribbean, Southern, and a touch of French) and you have a recipe for one of America’s most unique and dynamic cities, particularly for its size relative to the aforementioned cities.
The singular disappointment with how beautiful St. Augustine was the fact that my photographs couldn’t possible do it justice. No matter how hard I tried, my photographs simply do not reveal the city’s essence as well as visualizing and personally experiencing it does. I hope the photos I include with this post at least reveal the inspiring and stunning beauty of this city.
There are many lovely places in the United States that have withstood the tests of time and of occasional bad decision-making, but to this urban planner none quite matches the first city of our nation – St. Augustine or San Augustin. May it always remain so, as it will in my heart. Peace!