Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tallahassee - Capitol - Friend - Foe

On our way from Abbeville to Stuart we spent an extra day in Tallahassee to see a former colleague and add the Florida capitol building to our visited list. We also had a unusual encounter at the Moose lodge where we stayed.
Florida Welcomes You  - I'm not so sure.
We have traveled all over the United States and Canada since July 2007. We have met hundreds if not thousands of people and have always been made to feel instantly welcome. Generally, they ask our names and that is usually followed with, “Where are you from?” We always saw Pittsburgh and then explain that we now travel full time in our RV. The conversation then turns to stories about our travels and places that our new friends have visited. Well, as you can see on the sign above, we are back in what will soon be our home state. We stayed for the first time at a Moose Lodge in Tallahassee. As we normally do when we stay at a club, we went into the bar for a drink. There were two people at the bar who introduced themselves and asked where we were from. When we said Pittsburgh they responded, “Oh, maybe we can forgive you for that.” I was a bit taken aback but the conversation turned to stories about our travels and we learned they have been to Cajun Louisiana so we talked about places we had all been. After a few minutes I had to ask what they disliked about Pittsburgh, thinking they must hate the Steelers or something like that. Well, it wasn't that. It turns out they said they did not like Pittsburgh because it was north of the Mason Dixon Line. REALLY?? That response left me in a very unusual position, I was speechless. You don't like someone or someplace you have never visited because it is in a part of the country that your long dead relatives fought against and lost? All I could do was shake my head and move on. I really feel sorry for people who have such a narrow view of the world. Sure hope this is not a reflection of all the people in our new home state.
Jim, Jane, Tom and Nanc at dinner. I worked with Jane in Washington and we were both very active on the union negotiating team. We spent many hours together working to get fair contracts for the staff. Her daughter works at Florida State University, so Jane and her husband Ron moved to Tallahassee a few years ago. Last year Ron passed away so we wanted to make sure we stopped to see Jane. Tom is her brother-in-law who just moved to Tallahassee. We had a great dinner and enjoyed getting caught up with all we have been doing. 
Florida is the 37th capitol we have toured. The new capitol, a 22 story high-rise, was completed in 1977. It is one of only four state capitols that are skyscrapers. After much discussion, it was decided that part of the old capitol that was built in 1845 and expanded several times would be left in place and used as a museum.
This shows how the old capitol was expanded in 1902, 1922 and 1947, then reduced to its 1902 size in 1982. It is interesting that the state capital is almost 500 miles from Florida's largest city Miami. When Tallahassee was chosen as the site of the capital in 1824, it was about half way between the two biggest cities, Jacksonville and Pensacola. 
We always love seeing people demonstrating about the issues when we are visiting the capitols. This is democracy at work. The legislature was in session but no business was being conducted in the chambers the day we were there. 
The first stop is the gallery on the 22nd floor which offers a great view of the city. This is looking down on city hall.
One of the things that really impressed us was all the trees you see out in the city. Jane told us that any developer who removes trees must plant an equal number elsewhere in the city. Great idea.
The Florida House of Representatives chamber. The House has 120 members who are elected to two year terms. Members can only serve eight years and then must sit out two years. If they are elected again they start over with no seniority. The portraits are of Speakers of the House. When a new Speaker is elected the last one on the right is removed and sent to the museum.  All the others are moved over one space and the new portrait is hung in the first spot. 
The murals on the walls of the House floor, painted by Christopher Still, are four of the ten that were put up starting in 2001. They depict scenes of Florida history from the earliest people to the space program. Here is a link to an article about the murals. I find it strange that the murals are on the walls of the House floor, a place that is used only sixty days a year and where few people are allowed to venture.
The Florida Senate Chamber. The Senate has 40 members who are elected to four year terms in staggered years based on the year being divisible by four, so even and odd numbered districts are elected in different years. Due to court ordered redistricting, all forty members were up for election in 2016. By far the craziest system I have ever heard of. 
Like the House, the portraits of the Presidents of the Senate are moved around the chamber when a new one is elected. The glass enclosed area is for the press.
The great seal of the state of Florida depicts the state tree, Sabal palm, a Seminole woman spreading flowers, a ship coming into port and, of course, the state's famous sunshine.
In the Plaza Level are a number of exhibits honoring different Floridians. This display honors those who have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. I never realized that each branch of the military, Army, Navy and Air Force has a different medal.
In the hall leading to the offices of the Governor and Lt. Governor are portraits of recent governors. On the same level are exhibits honoring Florida women, fallen firefighters, artists, law enforcement officers and civil rights leaders.  
On the floor of the rotunda is the state seal surrounded by seals of the five major powers that ruled the state, the United States, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Confederate states.
On the walls of the balcony in the rotunda are the Florida Facts that we need to learn about our new home state.
The fountain in Waller Park on the capitol grounds celebrates the state's official wildlife, dolphins, with a 50 foot stainless steel sculpture.
Beautiful stained-glass in the dome above the rotunda of the old capitol. The pattern is based on glass fragments that were found during the demolition of part of the building.
There are several exhibits of various Florida historical events about civil rights, one person one vote and this one about the infamous 2000 presidential election between Gore and Bush. The election in Florida was won by Bush by a little over 500 votes making him the president. 
The old capitol had all three branches of the government under one roof. This was the Supreme Court Chamber. 
The old House of Representative Chamber.
All of the windows in the old capitol that received direct sunlight had these colorful awnings from the 1890's to the 1920's. Because of the red and white awnings people referred to the building as the ice cream parlor.
The old Senate Chamber.
Monument to the Vietnam veterans is across the street from the capitol. This was an interesting tour made even more interesting by the fact we will soon become official residents of the Sunshine State.

We have been enjoying our time in our new home in Stuart. We have been adding some personal touches to the condo and learning more about our new hometown. 


Bobbie and Jim said...

When we visited Florida as fulltfull RVers, we encountered that same attitude as you found at the Moose Lodge. It was like "yeah you yankees, come on down and spend your money then get the hell out of our state". We never felt welcomed in Florida....not like in Texas where travelers are called "Winter Texans" with some cities even putting up signs.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Amazing, turn the state blue!