SO MUCH that you see captured in this photograph was new at the time, including the very ground upon which R.E. Simpson stood with his camera, and the location of the graceful Royal Palms brought in from area nurseries to help lend a pleasing impression of age, and lush dignity, to a wide swath of green parkland.
To Simpson and the others of his day, the experience of simply being there must have felt at least a little surreal, because they remembered quite clearly that, only four or five years before, the park had not existed at all, and there had been only the choppy waters of open blue bay. And then the pumps had begun, with all of their racket, 24/7, sucking up sands from the bay’s bottom. Soon enough there had been mounds of white, wet sand everywhere, left to dry in the sun until ready to be packed down into a new foundation.
The McAllister Hotel, the Hotel Berni, and all of the others that once enjoyed waterfront prestige had been something less than thrilled with the entire fool notion. But when all that sand started blowing in every day with the bay’s vaunted breezes, they were fit to be tied! “If we’d have wanted to open up shop in the Egyptian desert… Why, we would have done so!” (Expletives have been deleted to shorten by half length of post!)
It was all part of life in that ever-unfolding pageant known as the “Magic City,” an experience that has never been for the faint of heart, or even the somewhat reasonable.