In the early 1900s, visionary entrepreneur and developer Henry Flagler, the "Father of Florida," fulfilled his extraordinary goal to build an overseas railroad that connected Miami to Key West. That remarkable series of bridges linked the mainland to the Florida Keys -- it spanned 110 miles, and the crown jewel in this chain was the "Seven Mile Bridge" from Marathon Key to Duck Key.
The rail bridges were converted to automotive bridges in the 1930s, and completely replaced by new structures in the 1970s and 80s. The original Seven Mile Bridge became a popular 2.2-mile recreational span on which joggers, bicyclists, skaters, anglers, and pedestrians could enjoy the ocean breezes, sunshine, and spectacular views.
But this historic landmark is crumbling and, without a massive overhaul, doomed to be condemned and closed. The Old Seven Bridge has been an integral part of Pigeon Key's character and history for a century, and such an action would be catastrophic to the island's residents, visitors, and the tourism economy.
The Florida Department of Transportation has pledged to cover half the $24 million cost of returning the Seven Mile Bridge to structural integrity, with the other half to come from outside sources. The volunteer grassroots organization, Friends of Old Seven (FO7), has stepped up to save this important public treasure.
As part of their fundraising efforts, the FO7 Board of Directors commissioned Beach Town Posters and artist Aurelio Grisanty to create a retro Art Deco travel poster celebrating Pigeon Key. The poster, which features the "Old Seven" and Pigeon Key's historic architecture, will be sold to raise money for bridge reconstruction.
F07 board member Bettye Chaplin explained that Beach Town Posters was a natural fit for the dual purposes of F07: to educate and inspire people about Pigeon Key, and to celebrate its history. Beach Town Posters is a series of original art travel posters, designed by Grisanty, that feature beloved classic American beach towns and islands.
"We wanted a beautiful, appealing, high-quality item that would constantly remind people of the wonderful times they spent on Pigeon Key, the 'tiny island with a big history.'" Chaplin says. "Beach Town Posters have an international following due to their stylish aesthetic and historical reverence. We are excited to have them design a Pigeon Key poster."
The Pigeon Key art poster will be sold in the Pigeon Key Museum Shop, selected art galleries and gift shops, at Friends of Old Seven fundraising events, and online at,www.friendsofoldseven.org For more information about the Old Seven Mile Bridge, about Henry Flagler's fascinating quest to fulfill an "impossible dream," or about Beach Town Posters, please contact Bettye Chaplin 305-743-3109/ Bettye@chappytimes.com or Clare Conley at 443-497-2214/ email@example.com