Young People No Longer Moving to Florida. Wonder Why...
|Heaven on earth.|
There were few multinationals on the horizon, then. The city's skyline, modest even now, was downright stubby, dominated by the Sun-Sentinel, which loomed over the city's lesser edifices, egging them on to sprout new floors, new lights, to grow up, to metropolize.
It's hard to believe it now, but the city managed to get by, for a time, without Riverfront. Where Riverfront now stands was an empty lot, bordered by a grocery store called Pantry Pride, a railroad track, a river, and by SW Second Street, which contained God knows what. (The Museum of Discovery and Science existed, in embryo, in an old house by the shore of the New River.) In the weedy tangle that would become Riverfront stood a single stone doorway, beckoning us from nothing to nothing, waiting for a reason to exist. (When Riverfront finally arrived, they couldn't find a use for the door; last time I checked, it was still there, by the tracks, lonesome as ever.)
Two decades ago, there weren't so many places to live. Davie was the end of the world. Where Weston now stands, inviting us down its broad and artfully planned boulevards, there was the carnivorous chaos of the swamp. Even east of I-95, there weren't so many homes. Victoria Park, Wilton Manors, and Sailboat Bend were wasted on space-gobbling old Florida homes made of heavy stucco, with roofs covered in heavy rust-red tiles. The homes were antiquated, inefficient. You could tour a dozen of their kitchens and find not a single stainless-steel appliance.
The bars along A1A were gritty, full of bands whose memberships were composed of those dedicated spring-breakers who had come to party in summers past and forgot to go home. Then as now, the revelers drank more than was strictly necessary, but then the revelers tended to be a little older, a little poorer, and committed to their decadence in a way that precluded the subsequent acquisition of post-grad degrees. They were not, in other words, the people around whom you wanted your sorority girl to party.
Florida was a hellhole, is what I am saying. Unformed, bereft of a unified identity. It's a wonder that such an undeveloped economy, such a foetal nothingish culture, could have substantiated the population boom our cities enjoyed for so many happy, busy years. And it is a cruel irony that now -- just as the place finally reaches some stage of development that young strivers may appraise and say, yes, now there's a place with its shit together -- the well has run dry and the migrants have moved on. The economy must be to blame. Because what could be better than this?
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