St. John before Grande Bay and Wharfside

Return with us now to those not-so-thrilling-days of yesteryear: 1987 to be precise.  

When Bob Morris was living on the island in the late '80s, working as an artist.  He built furniture and did stained glass and painted, sold his art in Cruz Bay Park, on the street and at galleries and shows. He now lives in Dallas.

The island had a different pace, then, for sure. Hurricane Marilyn was eight years away, and so was the real estate development boom.

Morris took a video camera and recorded scenes of the island.  

In this video, posted on YouTube, frequent St. John visitors will recognize Gallows Point and, to the left down the coast of Cruz Bay, nothin'.  Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay look the same – just no people (which is not the same now), and Great Cruz Bay has just a few houses.

How time flies.

16 thoughts on “St. John before Grande Bay and Wharfside”

  1. Cruz bay has been violated by unharmonious developments such as Grand Bay and the monstrosity on the hillside above town. Hopefully such greedy, ill considered development will cease as our beloved island’s character and charm is at risk.

  2. Ummm… Wharfside IS there, I think it was built in ’85 or 86? It just looks empty because there wasn’t anything else there, and the trees were denser (also it wasn’t glaring bright colors). By 1987 we were finishing the second major development boom for the island. In the previous 5 years, Gallows Point, Lavender Hill, Battery Hill, The Virgin Grand (now Westin) Wharfside and the new dock had all gone in. None of it quite as bad as Grande Bay or Sirenusa, but still forever altering Cruz Bay, and not for the better.

  3. Wow, that was a long time ago. Frank, time sure does fly. I don’t agree with you on those not-so-thrilling-days of yesteryear. My fondest memories of St. John are from those times and before; spending Christmas with family and friends, singing and dancing all night long. Diving and snorkeling when all the reefs were plentiful and colorful. The liquor and other stores in St. Thomas used to deliver to the docks in Red Hook for free and you picked up your goods in Cruz Bay. You didn’t have to lock your doors at night or your cars during the day. I remember the lady that lived like a princess in north shore. She surrounded herself with peacocks and every time she had a party, you had the option of taking a donkey up the hill to her house. Miss Lucy used to drive a taxi decorated with fresh flowers. She took pride in putting her bouquet together every day. Skinny dipping at midnight at Hawksnest when no one cared and no one bothered you. I remember when Coral Bay was another world, it was fascinating.
    Things do change, not necessarily for the better. People used to go to St. John to “get away” from it all and experience a different way of life before central air conditioning and giant swimming pools became the norm. Granted this is what is important to today’s visitor. I admire Mr. Rockefeller. With all his money, he could have built almost anything. But it was a conscious decision on his part not to have TV’s and telephones.
    Some of the changes on St. John are definitely for the better, but not all changes were/are good.

  4. Let’s face it, Grande Bay and Sirenusa are eyesores…
    Now, Cruz Bay is practically nothing more than an open bar.
    So much for “progress”, eh?

  5. I remember when I 1st arrived in St.Thomas,the airport was a metal tin roofed,dirt floor ,flooded with water and chickens running around,it was like a scene from Romancing the Stone,it was one of the reasons,I moved to the area from Mexico,Porto Vallarta,their airport was much the same in the 1970’s,it seem’s when an area builds a new airport,the rest of world follows to take a look…not much you can do about it,except keep looking or fit in…here is another video about the beaches on St.John,I did while living there http://youtu.be/lg7GLS2wsWQ

  6. WOW, I remember it when I first visited in 1990. I loved it and have been so disappointed over the years. Always dreamed of living there…instead, am going to an island that is more like what St John used to be. The good old days will alwasy be etched in my memory.

  7. Take a look at the Grenadines. The government does adhere to zoning codes and they are strict on what you can build and can’t build.
    Also, look at Cuba. You can fly through Canada or Cancun or charter flights from the US. Pristine beaches, incredible hiking, and the best diving in the Caribbean.

  8. Elliott,
    Thanks for the history of when things were built. My first trip to STJ was 1981 and there was not much. I remember a Wendy’s I think in the 80’s or 90’s and I was shocked.

  9. Yes Curtiz, the two are starting to be not-so-appealing before the eyes.
    But with the development however, Cruz bay seems to flourish at the moment.

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