Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Walking Duval Street, And Walking...And Walking...

Duval Street in the sunshine: it makes you want to take a stroll, pick up a Cuban coffee, sit and check out the newspaper and do some people watching...The bugger of it is that there's nowhere on the entire street to do that. If you go to Duval prepare to be a zombie.

You might wonder where a man might be going with coconuts under his arms. Wonder away because he can't stop to tell you. The flow of zombies shuffling along the sidewalks carries all in its wake...


Brace yourself because the crowds are intense. This is Key West's most famous street after all, 14 blocks that connect the Straits of Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

People crowd Duval because this is what the visitor literature talks about incessantly. We all know there's more to Key West than the t-shirt shops and souvenir stalls, art galleries and national chain outlets that pay preposterous rents to have street frontage here.

CVS has nice toilets my wife up informs me and she was delighted to see this familiar name offers one useful thing 24 hours a day. Fast Buck Freddie's is gone and there is nothing to be done. Long live CVS. Sigh.

Actually a toilet open 24 hours has one advantage: somewhere to sit. There is nowhere to sit the length of Duval Street. You can sit on your motorcycle of course.

Or you can bring your own chair, I suppose:

There is Jimmy Buffett's place on Duval, itself one of a chain. As I understand it a cheeseburger in paradise is to be found at Le Select in St Barth's, a French island that is even more expensive if you can believe it, than this town.

Nonetheless they crowd Margaritaville fondly imagining themselves in Paradise.

I want to enjoy Duval, but I want it my way. I want a pedestrian zone crossed at intervals by streets open to cars. I want wide shaded sidewalks, with tables and umbrellas, I want interesting shops and eccentric people. I want places to sit, I want street artists with talent able to amuse and enlighten, I want a place worth visiting and hanging out on.

My Duval Street is out of reach it seems. Grr! They have even screwed down blocks to make the planters uncomfortable to rest on.

I pity the zombies shuffling from end to end of this unremarkable street, struggling to find the street we all know should exist, but this town is too scared to embrace.



CJ said...

Zombies. What an apt term.

We like hanging out on the porch of Cork and Stogie, where we can get a beverage and a nice meat/cheese plate and people watch. Since there's strip club across the street, it's always entertaining watching intrepid tourons run up and take pictures of the "menu". Rarely see anyone actually go in, though.

To your point, making Duval mostly (or all) pedestrian would certainly change some things. Fair to assume this idea has been brought up and shot down in some fashion before?

Monica said...

Miss walking Duval street, thanks for the share!

Anonymous said...

And then what happens to Simonton or Whitehead? Do they become the car traffic zone if Duval is pedestrian only? And would that be--economically speaking--a good thing? Would Simonton become another street for shops and bars like the ones that line Duval due to its newfound visibility?

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, Way back in the mid 1980's Bourbon Street began closing to vehicles after 6.00 pm each night and reopening at sunrise. The local merchants were pleased and the tourists certainly had a safer area to stumble around in. It may still be like that today.

Nothing says welcome, sit and stay a spell like blocks on the planters.

Anonymous said...

Zombie nation

LauraA317 said...

I've discovered the perfect time to wander Duval is early in the morning while most of the zombies are sleeping it off!

Conchscooter said...

Yes it's true that the early hours are best but I do feel bad for these poor folk who can do nothing but walk up and down this street!