Saturday, September 27, 2008

Las Olas Boulevard: A Backyard Tourist's Photos

I am richly lucky to live in a subtropical paradise. I played backyard tourist this afternoon, after the morning's downpour stopped, and wandered down to Las Olas Boulevard. It's a center for restaurants, jazz clubs and nightlife, as well as shops and galleries. This waterfront restaurant on the New River epitomizes the South Florida experience.

Las Olas is close enough to the beachfront hotels, just across the Intracoastal Waterway, to attract tourists. But the area also is home to many of Fort Lauderdale's more prosperous citizens, including a substantial gay community.

This building is a newer structure. Its steamboat balconies overlooking both the New River and the boulevard are undoubtedly among the priciest in the building.

Stucco walls and voluminous foliage seclude this mansion on a quieter stretch of Las Olas -- and even closer to the Intracoastal Waterway. Spanish Mediterranean architecture was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Next door to the mansion -- and separated from it by the walls, are a row of a half dozen townhouses.

Each is tucked away behind its own gated entranceway and foliage. They are chicly European.

The gate creates something much like a foyer, as seen from the sidewalk. Two of the residents want even more privacy and added these canvas curtains to shield the tiny yards from view. I had to alter the colors a good deal to make the dark green fabric visible.

It would be lovely to live in a spot that was simultaneously close to restaurants, shopping, museums, the main library, the Riverfront walkway with its beautiful parks, and the beach -- yet so beautifully hidden. The pricetag? I saw a listing for a new townhome on the New River in a real estate office window for a well-groomed eyebrow under $1.7 million.

All gates are not created equal. This one shields a ground-floor suite in a new building that appears not fully occupied. What were they thinking to use wooden paneling of a completely different architectural mood?

These three charming slight buildings huddle together as new structures crowd them. I expect they have been there for many decades.

Careless colors and a jumble of signs evoke the nearby Caribbean islands in a building turned to multiple uses.

The building (above) has good bones, with a substantial upstairs veranda. It could easily be rehabilitated with an ironworks upper deck in the French-Spanish style of New Orleans and Savannah.

The courtyard entrance to an upscale restaurant, at a different location on Las Olas, would be at home in the French Quarter.

Purple trim properly emphasizes the artistic details of this art deco apartment building (below).

A trompe l'oeii mural adds interest to the exterior of this bar and restaurant.

Even a parking lot is beguiling (and barely noticeable, at the left in photo) when festooned with palms and lush subtropical foliage.

Ironically, there will be no tomorrow for this interior design business. Notice the shop's prominently displayed name and the for-rent signs in the windows.

Signs of the economic downtown are apparent in closings along the boulevard. This handsome cabinet, inlaid with a variety of woods, will be in a property auction in October.

A plaid front inexplicably decorates the facade of Hound and Herringbone,also shuttered and out of business.

On a happier note, a festive table painted in the Haitian tradition delights the eyes. Whimsical dancing figures add to the merriment.

Next door, a stuffed Siberian tiger hangs out with real ice that can't melt in a jewelry store window. Window glare adds a fantasy quality to these photos.

So I'll close with this shot of an entrancing gown, probably circa 1920s, that emerges like a shimmering ghost from this lavish window display. May the national troubles we seem to be facing vanish like the chimera of bad dreams, so we dance like giddy flappers until dawn.


Sylvia K said...

What a lovely tour for a Saturday afternoon! Thank you! Your pictures are beautiful.

June Saville said...

I was fascinated by this post. And thanks for the comments on my blogs Journeys in Creative Writing and 70 Plus and Still Kicking.
Australia is a puzzle to you, and South Florida has mostly just been a mystical name in the newspapers to me. Blogging is wonderful because it helps to breach the miles and remove boundaries in a very personal way.
You say: 'May the national troubles we (USA)seem to be facing vanish like the chimera of bad dreams, so we dance like giddy flappers until dawn.'
My sincere wishes too Tropigal!
I will certainly come again.
June in Oz

June Saville said...

I have sent your way a special blog award ...
It is a token of my appreciation for your blog, but at the same time I will absolutely understand if you don't wish to follow through with it. Time involved. Check my blog 70 Plus and Still Kicking.
June in Oz