Seaside Turns 20
by Katharine Logan
Seaside, the little Florida coast town that spawned New Urbanism, is 20 years old this year. To celebrate its birthday, the town is organizing a series of events and sponsoring a competition to create a new Ceremonial Landmark.
Begun in 1981 by Robert and Daryl Davis, with architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, as a resort with a sense of community, Seaside became one of the most influential design paradigms of its era, garnering a clutch of awards, and appearing in many national publications.
"Seaside — with its cozy, narrow streets and its jumble of pastel-colored homes — is probably the most influential resort community since Versailles," said Newsweek.
Travel & Leisure wrote: "Seaside is, in its simplest sense, a beach front tract of about 80 acres (32-hectares), but it is much more complicated and far-reaching than that... something that has seized the attention of urban-planning theorists and brought them down to see for themselves. It has become the subject of seminars among municipal officials across the country, and it contains the seed of a land-development philosophy that could influence the way America lives in the 21st century."
A New American Town
Today the concept of a pedestrian-friendly, densely built community of wood-frame cottages with front porches and picket fences hardly seems avant-garde. Yet, at the time it was conceived, it represented a radical shift in thinking about urban planning — and especially about developing waterfront property.
Odessa Street, in Seaside, Florida ends at the Odessa pavilion which opens to the sea.
Photo: Steven Brooke
Aerial view of Seaside.
Photo: Alex S. MacLean
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