Posts tagged “cultural tourism

History on Hilton Head’s Heel

Posted on May 23, 2012

In John Sayles’s film Sunshine State (2002), one of the key story lines explores the conflict between the longstanding but threatened African American community of Lincoln Beach and a development company intent on building a new resort community called Exley Plantation. The film is patterned loosely on Amelia Island in northern Florida, where American Beach, a historically black beach town, has clung to its property despite some three decades of encroaching resort development, notably by Amelia Island Plantation. The story could have been set on any number of the so-called Sea Islands that stretch some 200 miles northward from Amelia into Georgia and South Carolina. On some islands, small communities of Gullah-speaking residents are descendants of enslaved people who worked rice, cotton, and indigo…

Race at the Cape

Posted on May 22, 2012

Last Saturday, hybrid and electric cars “raced” vintage cars down the main drag in Cape May, New Jersey. The so-called “Race at the Cape” was a reenactment (with a contemporary twist) of a historic beach race between Henry Ford and Louis Chevrolet in Cape May in 1905. For Ford and Chevrolet, speed was the object. For Saturday’s “racers,” raising awareness about energy efficiency was a greater goal. Race at the Cape kicks off the 2012 program of the Cape May Forum, “Running on Empty? The Future of Energy” (June 2-3). Founded in 2010 in the spirit of the longstanding Chautauqua Institution in western New York, the Cape May Forum creates a similar venue for intellectual tourism (albeit much less extensive than Chautauqua’s full season…

A Prehistory of New Orleans Jazz Fest

Posted on May 6, 2012

Today marks the final day of the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Officially this is the 43rd annual Jazz Fest in the Crescent City, but a close look at history shows that the inaugural festival in in 1970 in Congo Square (across North Rampart Street from the French Quarter) followed years of earlier efforts to stage such an event The earliest jazz festivals in New Orleans grew out of the work of the New Orleans Jazz Club, founded in 1948 after its short-lived predecessor, the National Jazz Foundation, folded. The NOJC held a small jazz festival of sorts with several concerts in Congo Square in 1949 and 1950. After a promising start, a series of unfortunate events in the 1950s and 1960s…

Little Aspen of the Blue Ridge

Posted on May 3, 2012

As leaders in tony Highlands, North Carolina, look around the southern Appalachians, they find examples aplenty of tourist destinations that have struggled to define an image to match their beautiful surroundings. As the Smoky Mountain News reported yesterday, several towns in western North Carolina have labored to find slogans to brand themselves to appeal to a wide range of potential visitors without becoming so imprecise as to lose a coherent message. Some have had to rebrand themselves as their offerings have evolved. In Cherokee on the eastern fringe of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, casino gambling as eclipsed even the town’s cultivated reputation as a place to encounter Native Americans. Highlands’ slogan “Above It All” refers to its especially lofty elevation of 4,118 feet…

A Gen-X Chautauqua?

Posted on April 4, 2012

Seemingly a world away from the placid waters of Lake Chautauqua in western New York, Generation-X devotees of ’90s indie-rock bands came together for a three-day tour of the Caribbean – and unprecedented access to the rockers themselves. A recent New York Times article about the Weezer Cruise pinpoints an emerging niche within cultural tourism:  the music cruise. Perhaps the music cruise (even an indie-rock one) isn’t completely novel. More than a century ago, the Chautauqua Institution first promised artistic, educational, and religious programs that enabled visitors to partake of a cultural smorgasbord against the backdrop of a beautiful lake. Chautauqua continues to thrive by packaging stimulating cultural offerings in a Victorian village by the water. The Weezer Cruise unconsciously mimics Chautauqua’s model – packaging fast-paced,…

Profaning the Sacred in Harlem?

Posted on March 19, 2012

The late Hal Rothman, a historian of western tourism, decried the “Devil’s Bargains” that he argued are an ineluctable side effect of dependence on tourism. Over the past few decades, tourists in New York City have begun to outnumber congregants in the pews of many historic Harlem churches.  Seeking the “authenticity” of African American gospel choirs, tourists are subtly or not so subtly changing the dynamics of Sunday morning in Harlem.  Interestingly, as one recent Associated Press story reveals, the presence of camera-toting tourists from around the globe meets with a spectrum of opinions, for the interlopers have the power both to disrupt services and to fill the collection plate with dollars that surely translate into everything from paying the electric bill to tuckpointing…