Sunday, February 6, 2011

Charlotte Amalie –An Islandish Urbanity, VIRGIN ISLAND

I have new words in my urban dictionary “Islandish Urbanity”. This time my vacation turned out to be quite an outlandish escape to the Virgin Islands while, most of the United States were covered under blizzard. 

Charlotte Amalie- its downtown is much of an urban delight on this beautiful remote island. So I spend a good time exploring this new found islandish urbanity.

The economy of this town and island on the whole thrives on visitors & tourist. Mainly these visitors/ tourist are passengers from cruises. St. Thomas harbor docks about two to three cruise ships daily (each with onboard capacity of 2,300 passengers on an avg.) So, there is an evident attention to detail when it comes to pedestrian character of the street; to create a one of a kind, shopping experience.

Building structures are closely tucked next to each other. I understand this must be a result of resourceful use of land considering that it’s an Island; and, very small one for that matter.

Most of these buildings are old structures that were built in stone and brick brought over from Europe as ballast on the early sailing ships. Originally, these structures were used as warehouses. Later on reclaimed to create a shopping district.

What brings it’s streetscape to life are these light pockets and courtyards.

The old stone walls bathe in this Caribbean sun revealing its textured beauty often accented with occasional wall hung coastal vines. 

The arched doors of the warehouses are painted in the local playful and vibrant colours, adding character to this Islandish Urbanity.