Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pic of the Day: Pensacola, 1885

This map of downtown Pensacola was drawn by Henry Wellge.

You really need the big (7mb) version to appreciate what's still here and what's lost.

You can find the Old Christ Church at Church and Adams Streets, right next to Seville Square. No Rosie O'Grady's, yet.

Off to the north at 5th (now known as Cervantes) and Hayne streets, the Pensacola Police Department will be on the southwest side of the intersection, a Big 10 Tire shop to the northeast and the northbound on-ramp to I-110 to the northwest.

The last pier in the upper right is Muscogee Wharf (no luxury homes here for more than a century!); above that is Bayou Texar.

Near the last pier on the far left are a small boatyard and Joe Patti's Seafood.

The lumber industry was Pensacola's main claim to fame; the next pier down from Muscogee is a lumber pen and sawmill owned by G. W. Wright. Today, this is where the south end of 9th Avenue meets Bayfront Parkway.

One thing I never knew--and only noticed from looking at the old maps at Pensapedia.com--is that the waterfront got filled in quite a bit over the past 200 years. An 1812 Spanish map shows the shore just shy of Main street. Today there's a couple of blocks of fill between A and Alcaniz Streets. In the map above, we can see quite a bit of fill along and between many of the piers. In a later (1896) map by Koch, the fill's more extensive. Watson's 1906 map shows a massive fill running from the east shore of Bayou Chico to the west shore of Bayou Texar with close to 7 blocks' worth of new shoreline added below Main Street.

The 1906 map's confusing. The modern shoreline isn't nearly as extensive as what's shown, especially along the eastern end of the shoreline near the mouth of Bayou Texar. Along this end is a big filled-in section that forms the Pensacola end of the Three-Mile Bridge between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. From here you've got 17th Avenue going north, Bayfront Parkway following the shoreline to Main Street, and Gregory Street leading to the middle of town and I-110.

I'm thinking that developers hoped to add some valuable waterfront real estate and cash in, but Pensacola's 1906 hurricane and San Francisco's earthquake quenched their plans. Why the earthquake? A 1908 report found that the strongest shaking happened in land-filled areas. I wonder if the earthquake and report made people rethink using landfill that way.

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