Bigger and Better Florida

People love to come to Florida for the sun, beaches and paradise lifestyle. And Florida is set up to accommodate all of that. We have drive on beaches and so many restaurants and fast food joints that no one will ever go hungry. Just look at the bulging bellies as you cruise the beach! It’s the good life, don’t you know.

Ever since I moved south in 1979, I’ve seen lots of changes to the state and mostly they are to make roads bigger and wider, clear out acres of woodlands to put up condos and shopping centers, and lets not forget all that fast food! I guess many places are dealing with overcrowding, but it seems accelerated here.

This page is about one such replacement of an old beach house that became a multi-level hotel.

The House Next to Breakers

The iconic Breakers restaurant is the pink building you can’t miss at the end of Flagler Ave. I’ve eaten here a number of times, and the food is always good, but that right-on-the-beach / ocean view is superior to most water-view eateries in my area. During the day you can watch the beach people as you eat and in the evening enjoy views of the sparking ocean water.

I wonder how many people know what happened here in 2004 and how the coastline (and Florida) has changed.

Flagler Ave. beach entrance ramp from the beach
Flagler Ave. beach entrance ramp in New Smyrna Beach

Florida changes very fast. Hotels, buildings, and houses are built practically overnight. Green spaces are cleared daily to make space for the ever increasing new residents and tourist growth.

A new hotel has now taken the spot of small, residential housing along the valuable coastline in New Smyrna Beach. This is thanks to some wicked hurricanes. (Most tourists never have to deal with those either.)

Breakers and new hotel next door
Spring Hill Suites, is a brand new hotel right on the beach

Compare the photo above to the one below. I took them both, but years apart. In 2004, the year before we moved to New England, our area of Florida was hit with three hurricanes within about 6 weeks time. Charlie, Frances and Jeanne are names that are forever etched on the minds of Floridians who lived through long power outages, suffocating heat (the storms hit in August and September), and devastated homes, land, trees and beaches.

The photo below is mine and I used it to make a calendar for my Zazzle store. I bought the calendar, so I have this photo to reference because I have no idea where my old photos would be. You can see the same yellow hotel to the right, with most of the palm fronds blown off the trees.

Flagler Ave after Hurricanes of 2004 with house falling into the sea
This house was next door to Breakers Restaurant

I think there were 2 houses side-by-side but I am not sure. I took this photo out the window of the Breakers restaurant where we were eating at the time. Breakers was closed right after this for repairs. We had traveled from our home, which was 30 miles inland, to see what was happening at the beach after the hurricanes. It was sad to see the beach was gone, leaving such devastation behind.

Now, many years later, there is a new hotel in the spot where those houses used to sit. (Spring Hill Suites) It looks like a nice place for all the tourists to stay and I’m sure it’s a big money-maker. Personally I liked the look of beach houses, but that was part of “old Florida”. And it seems that the hurricanes made the place unlivable.

But New Florida is concerned with making money, and that is my gripe with this place. When ecology and the environment take a back seat to keeping people happy, we begin to lose what is truly good about this place.

It began years ago, and it’s not getting better. We do have conservation committees, and people who are trying to make changes for the better. I doubt they will get far when they are going up against big money hotel chains, car dealerships, and shopping centers.

Like I tell my son, if you see a green space, take a photo because the next time you go to that area it may be gone. That’s Florida. Tourists don’t mind because they are here to have fun. Big business doesn’t mind because they are making loads of money. On it goes, but for how long before there is no more for this state to give?

Paradise, or so it seems

Flagler Ave beach entrance
February 2019, Flagler Ave beach in evening

4 thoughts on “Bigger and Better Florida

  1. Emma Cownie

    It’s very sad that plannre don’t take the long view – ie sustainability. What is it like to actually live in a place for both humans and wildlife? The buildings along the sea front seem to be getting bigger and uglier. Sort of like a series of multi-storey car parks by the sea. Very charmless. Will they withstand the storms I wonder? Will the tourists move on the prettier destinations?

    1. Pam

      It is sad to see the lack of respect for the environment, and sadder to see that so few people who come here notice what happened to the land so they could have a winter home or a vacation on the beach. They just want a part of it. The gopher tortoise is the one I think about most. It needs acres of land for it’s tunnels underground. And the lack of trees. Buildings have to be put up according to hurricane codes so they will probably survive the hurricanes we get on this side of the state.

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