|1883 Sint Maarten - Philipsburg - The peninsula that separates |
the Little Bay and Great Bay
Posted on 10.09.2015, and 17.10.2015
Philipsburg is the main town and capital of Sint Maarten (a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which encompasses the southern 40% of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, while the northern 60% of the island constitutes the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin). The town has about 1,400 inhabitants, and consists of four parallel streets situated on a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay (where the cruise ships dock), and the Great Salt Pond (where salt was made many years ago).
|1884 Sint Maarten - Philipsburg - Cruise ships docked|
The island was first sighted by Christopher Columbus on 11 November (St. Martin's Day) 1493, but there was already an Arawak settlement there before his "discovery". Philipsburg was founded in 1763 by John Philips, a Scottish captain in the Dutch navy, the settlement soon becoming a bustling centre of international trade, and since 1768 the Dutch capital. Two historic forts bear witness to Philipsburg's strategic importance: Fort Amsterdam (the first Dutch military outpost in the Caribbean) and Fort Willem (built in 1801 by the British).
|1885 Sint Maarten - Philipsburg - On the beach|
Although most of the vessels that arrive in the harbor today are cruise ships (like Celebrity Solstice, Crown Princess, Disney Magic, and since 2010, Oasis of the Seas) international trade still thrives in St. Maarten thanks to its status as a leading duty-free port. In the 1950s, a prominent politician of the Democratic Party, Dr. A.C. Wathey considered that tourism could be one of Sint Maarten's economic pillars he was right. If in 1964 the cruise tourism took off, in 1980 105,000 cruise passengers visited the island, and in 2012 their number reached 1.7 million.
|1886 Sint Maarten - Philipsburg - The cruise ship Crown Princess docked|
The main shopping district, Front Street, is in the heart of the city, and is lined with duty-free shops offering everything from Italian leather goods and Japanese cameras to native crafts. Over the last few years it was beautified with paving stones, benches, new sidewalks, palm trees, and cast iron streetlights. Actually, the entire area has been improved greatly over the last few years. The harbor was dredged so that cruise ships could tie up at a new terminal. The sand from the dredging was used to replenish Great Bay beach and a boardwalk was built running the length of the beach.
|1887 Sint Maarten - Philipsburg|
Actually, Front Street has reinvented itself. Now it's mall-like, with a redbrick walk and streets, palm trees lining the sleek boutiques, jewelry stores, souvenir shops, outdoor restaurants, and the old reliables, like McDonald's and Burger King. Here and there a school or a church appears to remind visitors there's more to the island than shopping. Back Street is where you'll find the Philipsburg Market Place. Old Street, near the end of Front Street, has stores, boutiques, and open-air cafés offering French crepes, rich chocolates, and island mementos.
|1965 Sint Maarten - Old Street|
The narrow alleyways (steegjes) which connects the four main streets have Dutch names recalling the street signs in Amsterdam, and lead in either direction to arcades and courtyards filled with flowers. Visitors will also find examples of traditional West Indian architecture, including characteristic pastel-colored houses with second-story verandas looking out over the street. The lacy carvings of the fanciful gingerbread houses often form patterns that could remind the fairy-tale children of the witch's house built of bread and decorated with cakes.
About the stamps
On all the postcards is Allure of the seas, issued on March 2, 2015. On the postcards 1886, 1887, and 1965 is a stamp depicting Collared Forest Falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus), which is one of the twelve of the series Birds, issued on January 14, 2015. On the postcards 1886 is also a stamp (Flamboyant), issued on October 6, 2011, which is part of a series of 10 definitives. On the postcard 1887 is also a stamp (Allure of the seas), which is part of the same series of 10 definitives.
Philipsburg, the Capital of Sint Maarten - Philipsburg Info
Philipsburt, Crossroads of the Caribbean - geographia.com
Sender 1883-1887, 1965: Denise
1883-1887: Sent from Philipsburg (Sint Maarten / Netherlands), on 22.08.2015
1883, 1884, 1885 - Photo: Philippe Poux
1886 - Photo: Cyril Exbrayat
1887 - Photo: Andre Exbrayat
1965: Sent from Philipsburg (Sint Maarten / Netherlands), on 29.08.2015
1965 - Photo: Criss