Frederiksted

Overview

Introduction

Frederiksted, St. Croix, is smaller and quieter than Christiansted. As a result, visitors usually overlook it. The tourist office and local businesses are trying to remedy this by hosting minicarnivals whenever cruise ships are in port. Streets are blocked off for island bands, wildly dressed stilt walkers (known as Mocko Jumbies) stroll the streets, and restaurants show off their specialties at colorful booths. The best way to see the town is on a walking tour—be sure to pick up a guide map at the tourism kiosk by the pier. Many of Frederiksted's wonderful old wooden buildings are adorned with gingerbread moldings and enclosed stairs on the exterior walls, in contrast to Christiansted's plainer architecture. The reason for this dates from 1878, when angry workers, frustrated with unfair labor laws, marched into Frederiksted and burned the town. It was rebuilt in the ornamental style of the late 19th century.

The town's most imposing structure is Fort Frederik, built in the 1750s and painted a menacing deep red. The fort, which claims to have been the first to sound a foreign salute to the U.S. flag in 1776, has a museum and an art gallery with rotating exhibits of local art. It was there that, after the 1848 uprising, Danish Gov. Peter von Scholten made history by freeing the slaves.

Across from Fort Frederik is the Customs House, an 18th-century building with a two-story gallery added on in the 19th century. The plaza in front of the building, facing the sea, has as its centerpiece a statue of Buddhoe, the voluble spokesman for the rights of his fellow slaves. St. Patrick's Catholic Church on Prince Street dates from the mid-1800s and is made of coral.

The city's harbor is spectacular—keep your camera handy. Strand Street, near the waterfront, is the main commercial thoroughfare. It has a few shops and cafes along one side and has a shallow park at the water's edge, with parks and benches.

Take a drive through the rain forest on Route 76, stopping at St. Croix Leap to watch woodworkers in action. If it's a hot day in town, this shady route provides a cooling respite.

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