To visit Florida on holiday and come back having only experienced Disney World is both a travesty and an occurrence far too common amongst modern tourists. Florida is absolutely full of fascinating architecture, quirky sights and beautiful structures that are more than worth the trip on their own.
Here are just 4 examples of local sights that have either been abandoned since completion or never finished and which serve as a perfect destination for tourists looking for unique photo opportunities or parts of Florida that contain more character and history than Mr Disney’s theme park. Make sure you include them in your plans when you next visit.
If you head down to Biscayne Bay and look out to sea you’ll spot 6 incredible buildings hovering above the shallow waters. At its peak this sea-dwelling community known as Stiltsville comprised of 36 properties resting on stilts, all located at least a mile from the shore. During the days of prohibition local fisherman Eddie Walker started Stiltsville by building a shack in the Bay – soon afterwards fellow locals did the same and the ‘village’ grew rapidly with the majority of the properties becoming gambling dens and clubs as they weren’t victim to laws which disallowed these types of establishment within a mile from shore. Over the years the houses-on-stilts have taken many a battering from hurricanes and other severe weather and these days only a few remain, empty and falling into disrepair.
2. Perky’s Bat Tower
In 1929 frustrated local businessman Richter Clyde Perky decided the time had come to rid his holiday resort of mosquitoes and the threat of both malaria and commercial failure. His idea was to invest in a structure called a Bat Tower, the invention of a Texan ‘Bat Researcher’ by the name of Dr. Campbell who believed that the towers would provide an attractive home for bats, well-known gobblers of mosquitoes. The plans in place, Mr Perky installed the huge wooden Bat Tower at great cost, shipped in hundreds of bats from Texas and Cuba and put the Champagne on ice. As soon as the bats were released they flew away, never to return. The charming Bat Tower, minus the resort it was meant to save, can still be seen and photographed at mile marker 17 of Lower Sugarloaf Key. Watch out for the mosquitoes.
3. Fort Jefferson
Work began on this fascinating, unfinished coastal fort in 1846 and the building is still the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, comprising of over 16 million bricks. Construction on the hexagonal fort continued for 30 years, the work-in-progress at its peak becoming home to 2’000 people, building work only stopped when advances in artillery development and armored ships rendered the fort’s defensive walls useless. These days this fantastic structure is part of Dry Tortugas National Park and can only be reached by seaplane or boat but the effort is definitely worth it.
4. Bahia Honda Rail Bridge
If you ever visit the Florida Keys, make sure you head to Bahia Honda Key near the lower end of the islands. In the early 1900s it was connected to neighbouring island Spanish Harbor Key by the Bahia Honda Bridge, part of the engineering marvel known as the Overseas Railroad. These days, following both the devastating Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and the creation of a newer bridge, the stunning abandoned bridge sits unused by traffic. What’s amazing is the bridge in its current form: 2 truss spans have been taken out leaving a huge gap for boat traffic to pass through and locals use the disconnected portion as an ideal fishing spot. Definitely a unique view to behold.
Read more good articles in directvillasflorida.com