Lost In A Seawall Of Romance
For nearly two centuries, lovers have strolled hand in hand atop St. Augustine's historic seawall. It's the perfect pathway to romance, especially when the walk occurs at dusk when the stars begin to sparkle and the rising moon reflects on the dark waters that happily splash against the wall's ancient coquina stones. Extending from St. Francis Barracks, site of a mission established by the Franciscans in 1577, northward along Avenida Menendez to the Castillo de San Marcos, the seawall provides a solid barrier between Matanzas Bay and the low-lying historic center of old St. Augustine.
Although various Spanish versions of the wall stretch back into antiquity, much of the current seawall was constructed between 1833 and 1844 as an engineering project for recent graduates of the United States Military Academy. Despite its no-nonsense military construction, the four young lieutenants who designed the wall did so with romance in mind.
At that time, young men and women went on dates accompanied by a chaperone, usually an elderly lady whose primary role was to quickly and thoroughly extinguish any spark of romance that might occur on her watch. In the name of love, the frustrated officers designed a seawall that was only wide enough to accommodate two people walking side by side: the two young people, with the annoying chaperone trailing behind. Unfortunately, after the wall was completed, the officers of the town quickly found they had sadly underestimated the tenacity of chaperones. The strolling couples atop the seawall were composed of a young lady and a chaperone – with the young man left to shuffle along behind!