An urban walk needs big-city grit. Problem: Downtown Fort Lauderdale doesn't have grit per se. It's too purty, and so much of it near the river is wrought with a Disney-esque sensibility. But just as Disney creates longing for small-town America -- minus the litter, the claustrophobia, the nosy neighbors, and the violence embedded in the winding sheet of the American family -- here you don't need the real thing to extract the finer parts. You need the symbols of it. The imagination will fill in the outlines. And sometimes it's better to experience these things as poetic apprehension. It tugs at memory and desire, making the moment more personal. Blurring the raw truth is better sometimes. Especially if you're taking a walk to relax. Riverwalk stretches along the New River on the north side for three quarters of a mile, from SW Seventh Avenue near the Broward Center on the west to the Stranahan House at SE Fifth Avenue on the east. There is the Auto Nation skyscraper for that we-are-but-human-ants feeling. Automobiles rumble over two drawbridges that cross the river. If you time it right, a Florida East Coast Railroad train might thunder past. Construction cranes growl and clang. You can feel the gnawing mouth of the military-industrial complex. By contrast, that fresh-scrubbed family clad in khaki taking an afternoon walk along the river sure looks good. Don't they look happy? The breeze off the New River feels sweet. Maybe grab a coffee on Himmarshee and sit on a bench for a while. Watch the kids race by on bikes. Read the paper. It's shady and surprisingly cool. The rhythm of the river aligns with the blood flow. Heck, why not just take a little spin on the Water Taxi? You won't be missed. Duck into the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art. You must climb the stairs to transcendence, but it can start here, dude, down in the city with a river running through it and a place to walk and think beside it.
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