Debra and Dave Vanderlaan
Photograph - Photography
As the waves recede, the incoming tide resembles intricate lacey patterns woven into the glistening sand at sunrise. Captured at the fishing pier on Lake Worth beach in South Florida.
Lake Worth was incorporated as the "Town of Lake Worth" in June 1913. Many of the first residents were farmers from other parts of the American south and mid-west, looking to benefit from the growing winter vegetable market of the time. The city benefited with the rest of south Florida during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. A wooden automobile traffic bridge over Lake Worth was completed in 1919. The first casino and municipal beach complex was completed shortly thereafter. The 1920s also saw the completion of the Gulf Stream Hotel, now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The city was severely damaged in the 1928 hurricane, toppling the bell tower on the elementary school (today the City Hall Annex) and destroying the beachfront casino and automobile bridge over Lake Worth. This led to a severe economic decline within the community, during the Great Depression. Things were so dire in the city in the 1930s, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration built a striking, moorish-styled "City Gymnasium" on the corner of Lake Avenue and Dixie Highway. The building today serves as City Hall.
Development started again after World War II with many modest pensioners, especially from Quebec, Finland and eventually Germany, moving to the city and building 1,000-square-foot (93 m2) cottages. These new immigrants brought their industrious nature with them as well as their native customs, restaurants, shops, and churches and for decades the town flourished. To this day, one can find an abundance of beer halls, chocolatiers, Bavarian delicatessens, and Lutheran churches, which stand out in the semitropical urban sprawl of south Florida.
The South Florida construction boom brought a new wave of immigrants in the past few decades. Central Americans have added a Hispanic aspect to Lake Worth's culture. Included in the 1980s immigration were many Guatemalan-Mayas who consider themselves indigenous peoples, rather than Hispanic and may not speak Spanish. They mostly converse in M'am, Q'anjob'al, or any one of 22 other Indian languages. Adding to the racial and linguistic mix of the city is a large Haitian population, speaking Haitian Creole and French.
After a short period of neglect and decline in the 1980s and 1990s, the downtown area has seen a huge resurgence in interest and now sports an array of art galleries, sidewalk cafes and night clubs. Once moribund property values have soared. The city's main street, Lake Avenue, contains some of the oldest commercial structures in south Florida, including the Lake Worth Playhouse.
The city was hit especially hard by Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne, and Wilma in 2004 and 2005. The fishing pier was quite damaged but was repaired and reopened in May 2009. The pier is currently open to the public with entry fees of $1 per adult sightseer, and $3 per adult fisherman.
October 23rd, 2011
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