It used to be a pleasant, if plain, area suited for sitting on benches and watching the waves. Or strolling along. Or, as in the case of a lot of teens, someplace to sit and smooch after dark.
When Hurricane Ivan came along in September 2004, he knocked out a lot of the seawall. Large areas just crumbled away, leaving the homes along the ocean vulnerable, as well as all of the homes and businesses in the downtown area. The lowest spot on the ocean, almost directly at sea level, is the downtown district. I don't know why, but nothing was done to repair or even clean this area up. It just sat in rubble.
Then we got hit with Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. She spelled the end of the seawall as we knew it. Despite the cries of indignation from the people, still nothing was done to repair it. Finally, now that the business people downtown have won their battle to NOT have the major tourist street on the island torn up during high season, funds have been diverted from that project to fix the seawall.
Here's what happened and what they are doing about it.
This is a view from downtown, looking south. In the middle of the picture you can see what is left standing of the old seawall. That's the backside of the nightclub, La Pena, in the picture. The red thing is what's left of one of four stair treads that took you up to that level.
Same view, just a little more distance.
If you turn around and look north, this is what you see. All that rubble is from wave damage. Also of note, the two hotels you can see in the picture belong to La Perla, one of the oldest high rise, modern hotels on the island. They are now shut down and scheduled for demolition. Nobody is sure if it is to make way for the new, improved malecon OR to make way for yet another condo complex. Time will tell.
One of the decorative tops on the wall. It's amazing that they weren't all just knocked off by the waves. They were used to signal a set of stairs existed in this spot to take you down to the now non-existent beach.
Work in progress. I've seen this same thing along the Gulf Coast. It is basically wire cages filled with rocks. It's a start.
I have seen the plans for the new malecon. They were posted on a board for one day. I didn't have my camera so didn't get a picture. It looks like it is going to be a really nice pedestrian area again. And, let's hope, much more secure and safe.