Here’s a discussion we’ll be having increasingly as Tampa’s riverfront continues its revitalization. What of all that uncommissioned “urban art” that has been left in the wake of college rowing crews over the years?
Will it remain cool – in that Tampa signature kind of way – or will it seem an incongruous mismatch with the new Riverwalk, museums and upscale, outdoor dining?
Here’s a vote for continued coolness.
We’re obviously not talking about urban graffiti that is the unsightly tag line of vandals or ad hoc advertisers. We’re talking about a literal, historical signature: a graphic reminder of where Ivy League and Big Ten student-scullers have long wanted to be in the winter. And not only were the collegiate Kilroys here, but they’re still coming back.
If a simple Yale logo or a colorful reminder that the Princeton Women Crew was here in 2000 are not considered compatible with a protean waterfront, then we need to do a better job of educating those that think that way. Philadelphia and Boston, for example, don’t have a problem with student signatures along their boathouse rows. Tampa needs to market it — not question it.
To that end, visitor-related brochures and websites need to highlight the unique Tampa totems. And the private sector can emulate the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel, which will place a plaque in the hotel’s lobby explaining the crew art history.
In Tampa, you can row home again.