Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Seaside, FL

This past weekend I went to Seaside, FL where The Truman Show was filmed.

Seaside is a master-planned community designed to be an idealized 1950s beech community.

Despite the extremely high level of kitsch, the town is pretty cool -- I'd vacation there.

Seaside is quite compact (there's very little space between homes), it's modeled to be a garden city with trees and brush all over the place, the architecture is diverse and interesting, and it's all very self-contained with lots of retail and restaurants in the town center.

With the exception of going to the supermarket, while there you could park your car and never have to drive -- everything you would need is in walking distance.

(Sand paths like this cut through the blocks so that people can walk from their homes to the beach in bare feet.)

There is one major flaw with the design of the town. Virtually none of the homes have parking on the property line (e.g. a garage or parking space). As a result, all of the streets are lined with cars, and they screw up the picturesque look of the town.

It's either a major oversight, or they grossly underestimated how many cars per home there would be. This website implies that the on-street parking provides a buffer between the street and sidewalk. While this is done in places like NYC -- it goes sidewalk, bike lane, parking, traffic lane, so that the parked cars protect the bike lane from traffic -- unlike NYC, people aren't zooming down the streets of Seaside at 40 mph. Most people were driving slower than I walk.

One other planning mistake was that they didn't put in bike lanes -- and lots of people bike around town.

More pictures:

On the way to Seaside I drove by this mega condo, Emerald Grande:

It's an interesting contrast to Seaside. Both have the same goal of being a self-contained vacation community -- it has its own mall, restaurants, marina -- but its design philosophy is part of our mall culture -- the building is pretty much a stationary cruise ship.

I can understand why some people will like that, but its huge size means it's always going to be congested with people.

The biggest difference between it and Seaside is that there is no where to walk -- walking is a major component of Seaside experience.

I also think buying a unit in a condo like this is a bad investment. Eventually someone is going to build a newer, glitzy condo tower, and next thing you know, you own a unit in a second rate building.

Finally, I spotted this disaster waiting to happen:

This putz is going to get someone killed. What does he think those clam shell type looking things everyone has on their car roofs is for?

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