“ A place can fall victim to amnesia. It can lose he memory of what it was and thereby lose touch with what it is, what it wants to be.”(Sidney Hyman)
Tallahassee functions today as the capital city of Florida, home of two, major universities and the state’s 5th most populated city. Yet it thrives today in spite of being geographically isolated from other population centers in Florida. So this thought often crossed my mind on our road trip beginning yesterday as we took an “off the beaten track” drive along U.S. Highway 27 in North Florida through “sleepy” southern towns of Spanish moss profusion. Yet upon entering the urban environs of Tallahassee, our upcoming visit would seem oddly out of “Old South” character.
I thus became curious to find out more about Tallahassee’s legacy of fame amidst such rural isolation. So we took a few hours time for a morning visit to the Tallahassee Museum obscurely located a few miles southwest of the city. Walking amid an early 19th century community of authentically restored buildings at this “living history” site, for the first time I envisioned how an “Old South”, Tallahassee impression now seemed real to me. For throughout its history in the past two centuries, I had then learned that Tallahassee had once served as a Native American settlement, cotton producing giant , slave holding hub and seasonal hunting ground. So I would not be be fooled by the modern look of the massive State Capitol complex prominently situated atop a steep hill in downtown or the sprawling campus of nearby Florida State University. For from a deeper historic perspective, “Old Tallahassee” would be a most accurate description of this community.
Beyond observing such evidence of how human life once thrived as “Old Tallahassee” culture, strong evidence of the impact of environmental change in this region would be revealed as we leisurely moved forward along an elevated boardwalk named the “Old Florida” Trail. For before waves of human settlement inhabited this land, the “Greater Tallahassee” once stood as a thriving ecosystem of densely forested swampland and nutrient rich lakes teeming with wildlife and aquatic species. How much of this pristine natural beauty would be lost I pondered in Tallahassee’s inevitable rise to city status? Would its busy commuters going to and from work each day downtown take the time to even care to know? With Tallahassee’s past vs. present timeline in mind, I present the following photographs.