Public Square Profile: Mallory Square
// By Jacqueline Brennan
Each year, saying sayonara to summer is a bittersweet rite for many of us. We hope having Upswell on your horizon this November gives you a little something to look forward to as we head into the next few months. But for the meantime, we’re inspired to unwind a bit with a trip down to island time for this week’s public square profile.
Previously, we’ve stressed the enlightening and culturally generative contributions public spaces have had for cities like Athens and Mexico City. And while those aspects of historically significant public spaces are inspiring fodder for designing the Upswell experience, we know it’s also important to relax, and enjoy the people you’re with. Upswell’s Public Square is as much a place to stimulate your thinking as it is a place for you to recharge, unplug, and reflect. That’s why we’re heading down to the Florida Keys this week. Though, globally speaking, it’s decidedly lower-profile than the public spaces we’ve highlighted previously, Key West’s Mallory Square is quite beloved, and for good reason.
The square is located on the waterfront just west of the northern terminus of Duval Street. The street’s opposite terminus lies just one block west from the buoy marking the southernmost point in the United States. Visitors and locals flock to the square en masse each evening for Key West’s famous “Sunset Celebration.”
The square faces the Gulf of Mexico, offering a view famous for its breathtaking, apocalyptic sunsets. As the sun descends, pedestrians walk through the square among artists, crafts exhibitors, street performers, food trucks, and stands where tropical drinks of every kind are mixed. The best part? Well, it’s kind of a tossup, so there are two best parts. First, thanks to an ordinance passed by the city of Key West shortly after a pier was built on the square in 1984, every cruise ship passing through must leave the port two hours before sunset, guaranteeing onlookers an unobstructed view of Key West’s most iconic spectacle. The other best part will be a no-brainer to anybody who’s ever visited the main downtown area of Florida’s famous Conch Republic, but if the furthest south you’ve made it is Bourbon Street in New Orleans, you’ll be glad to know it’s the same drill! Namely, you can enjoy that sunset anywhere along the length of Mallory Square with a drink in your hand.
With Upswell on the horizon (like one of Key West’s famous sunsets), now is the best time to get your three-day pass if you haven’t already. Although Labor Day is the traditional marker of summer’s end, our full Upswell rates don’t kick in until Friday, September 14! So you can still save $100 on registration while you’re savoring the last of those summer vibes.
Between now and November, we’re visiting a number of important public spaces across the globe, mining for inspiration for the Public Square—the centerpiece of the Uspwell experience. As we share this series, take note of the things you like, and especially things you might want to emulate, as there are still many opportunities to be part of creating the Public Square at Upswell.
Jackie Brennan is the associate of social media and web at Independent Sector.