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Happy Birthday to Me

Yes, today was another lovely birthday. I've long since passed the point where I anticipated my birthday. Now I dread them. This year, rather than sit around and feel sorry for yet another year passing, I decided to go out and shoot. And because I was in such a wonderfully grim and cheerless mood I decided to drive around International Drive here in Orlando and shoot a bit of its long, slow decay. I took Megs with me; I'd bequeathed my E-300 system to her for her to use this coming spring in college. She needed the practice.

We started at the Sea World end of I-Drive, near the old Harcourt Brace Jovanovich building (or whatever it's called these days). It caught my daughter's eye because of the huge "For Lease" sign plastered across the top two floors of the building, visible from I-Drive. We drove around and into the empty parking lot; I assume it was empty because it was Sunday, but you never know. The lovely color shot is from the front and shows the neatly trimmed lawn. The back shows the sign we first saw from the main drag.
HBJ FrontHBJ Back and For Lease Sign

We next drove down I-Drive towards the intersection with Sand Lake, slowly passing the Orange County Civic Center which now sprawls across both sides of I-Drive. We passed the OCCC and continued until we we came to a huge, empty vacant lot. Up to this point every square foot of I-Drive has, or was, completely developed. I was a bit shocked to see that much empty prime real estate, and then I was shocked further when I realized that the Mercado Marketplace used to sit on that land.

Mercado Marketplace TreesFormer Mercado Marketplace
Mercado Marketplace Main EntranceLast Entrance Standing

I don't know the nature of its demise. All I know is I was here when it first opened, and for a number of years the family and I would come here to eat and to visit the Titanic show that was part of its attraction.

Steak & Ale BeddingFinally, I close this post with a shot of yet another empty Steak and Ale. This one is within spitting distance of the old HBJ building, right on I-Drive, and sits next door to an equally empty Bennigan's.

Some inventive person stashed a mattress into the awning that extends over the front entrance. It's high enough that you can't see anyone up there, it gives shelter from the rain, and the metal is strong enough to support the weight of the person who crawls up there to lie on the mattress.

We saw a lot of other promising material, and we've made a mutual promise to come back and shoot all up and down I-Drive, especially the north end above Sand Lake.

Yes. I had a wonderful birthday.

All images shot with Olympus E-3 and Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 UWA zoom.


  1. Happy Birthday Bill - another good set of docupics (sorry I'm arrogant enough to invent my own words now LOL)
    Interesting if sad display showing what happens when Capitalism fails in an area.


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