Welcome to Pensacola, the “Western Gate to the Sunshine State” as the former mayor Vince Whibbs use to say. Unknown to most people is the fact that Pensacola, Florida was the first settlement founded, in the “New World” by Tristan de Luna y Arellano in 1559. Sailing with 11 ships and 1500 people from Veracruz, Mexico, the goal was to establish a beachhead to colonize the area. Unfortunately their efforts came to an abrupt end on 19 September 1559 when a hurricane decimated the area. It would be more than a century later before efforts were once again launched to colonize the area.
As I travel the country, I find more and more cities embarking on beautifying public and private spaces with works of art. Pensacola is no different. The art work is not as extensive as one might find in cities such as Eureka, California or even Albuquerque, New Mexico, but there appears to be a grassroots effort to beautify public spaces. According to McCammond, “Murals build a sense of community, they make it welcoming and walkable and they make you want to go there.”
A few of the murals found in the Pensacola area provide a sense of who they are and a road map to the culture of the area. Take the painting of the Blue Angels on the Jefferson Street Garage with one of the painted F/A-18 showing the number 6 on its tail That plane honors the opposing solo pilot, Marine Captain Jeff “Kooch” Kuss, who tragically died in a mishap during a 2016 show in Tennessee; or the image of Chef Anthony Bourdain, with the national suicide prevention phone number next to his image, located on the Juice Bar, a vegan restaurant on Garden Street.
And then there is the graffiti bridge where the images change on an almost daily basis. The bridge or train trestle is well known in the area for the number of trucks that get stuck under it because many of drivers don’t think or realize their truck height is lower than the trestle’s height. But, the most beautiful Mural I have come across is the Drowsy Poet Coffeehouse located on Brent lane.
And, if you find yourself at Belmont & Devilliers exploring the art work as part of the Blues Trail, stop in the Five Sisters Restaurant for a meal – they have the best Southern fried chicken you will probably find east of the Mississippi River. Whenever I am there for lunch I can’t resist that meal.
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Camera Marker= Jefferson Street Garage Mural