Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lehigh Acres, Florida

To call Lehigh Acres the ground zero of the housing crisis in Florida is a bit of misnomer to me; I prefer to think of it as patient zero. Following a long and sordid history, Lehigh Acres has over 11,000 miles of roads, lots for 152,000 homes, and only a 10% occupancy rate on all those lots. It's long history of failure dwarfs the land usage failure around me in the Tampa area.

I had a ill feeling driving around Lehigh Acres; many of the roads are still dirt roads, and it was quite quiet, even with all those roads.

I didn't make many images while there; I was very unsure about the place. I did pass a idyllic looking pine forest next to the road, with houses barely visible. I walked through the area, the ground covered with several inches of pine needles. It's a scene I see very rarely; I still can't adequately describe the ground of the wooded area covered in the sea of pine needles. It's quite a beautiful site to me; and I had to image it because it awed me so.

There's also several canals cutting through the area. I'm sure if Lehigh Acres was built to anything near capacity, the canals would be needed to control water runoff and keep houses from flooding. But with the capacity at 10%, they just become another unnatural feature to this place.

Lehigh Acres represents everything that is wrong with Florida; the overbuilding, the greed, the failure to grow responsibly. Maybe that's what made me uneasy; seeing the heart (and start) of the blight. It's like being in the heart of the fire, when all this time I've been dancing around the edges.

I've got to go back; there's too many images not captured, and more area to explore.

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