Frederiksted, Saint Cross, US Virgin Islands

The Emancipation City of the Danish West Indies

Sugar Mills
iguana in the sun
Whim Estate
The Old Fort Frederick
walk in the rain
Tower of Time
“Freedom” II
A Tropical Bakery
School Model
offal in the rain
If Christiansted established itself as the capital and main commercial center of the island of Saint Croix, the “sister” of the leeward side, Frederiksted had its civilizational apogee when there was the revolt and subsequent liberation of the slaves that ensured the colony's prosperity.

With the time we had for Saint Croix almost running out, we turned our attention west to the other, second and last, town on the island.

The route progresses to higher lands that reveal plantations of what has always been the main crop in these parts, sugar cane. And below, farther away, the endless blue of the Caribbean Sea, reinforced by a new sunny day, slashed by stray clouds.

From a highway, the Melvin H. Evans Highway has little or nothing, neither the width nor the traffic that warrants it. Two switchbacks bring it closer to the south coast of Saint Croix and its airport, protected from the north winds.

We return to areas framed by narrow roads, adjusted to an unpretentious house.


The Colonial and Slave Heritage of the Whim Estate

In a Whim district, we are faced with the unavoidable scale of the Whim Estate, monumental as a large colonial and slaveholding house on the island, the oldest local property for the production of sugarcane and derivatives.

And the only one in the Virgin Islands, however, turned into a museum.

It comprises a manor house, a huge kitchen, slave quarters and a sugar mill as part of a larger processing complex.


When we arrive at the entrance of the manor house, built in 1760, with oval-shaped coral stone walls, we find the property closed.

Similar to what happened in other parts of the Virgin Islands (American and British) and the Antilles, the successive passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria, in September 2017, had caused serious damage. Especially on the tile roof, almost made of leaf, from which the wind ripped a frontal section.

In the back, ironically, two pieces of clothing hang on a clothesline, held together by only four clips, side by side with a brass bowl and an old washing board.

With no access to the colonial core of the farm, we wander around. A chimney stands out high above an old warehouse, a mill and an 1847 steam engine, which the tropical humidity keeps rusting.

Frederikstad-Saint-Croix-American Virgin Islands-Iguana

Iguanas recharge in the sun, next to the old slave house. They sleep, reassured by the long absence of the usual visitors.

With the museum-farm open and fully operational, we would have much more to discover and photograph, especially in its secular and sumptuous interior.

Barred from it, we continued towards Frederiksted, the final destination of that journey through Saint Cross.

Frederiksted, the other City on the West Coast of Saint Croix

The Whim State was not far from the city. Over the years, it has always depended on its port to export the sugar and rum it produced.

The historic-colonial development of Frederiksted resulted from this same dependence and interaction, that of the Saint Croix sugar cane farms, the deep-water port, the customs and other infrastructures, institutions and businesses of the second city of the island.

A 90º turn of the Centerline Road we were following, leaves us on Christiansted Bypass which serves as the back artery to Frederiksted.

At a glance, the configuration of the west coast that welcomed it, leads us to the rectangular grid in the center and to the waterfront that serves as a Caribbean showcase.

Frederikstad-Saint-Croix-American-Virgin-Islands-KidsFrederiksted's Mercantile and Northern European Genesis

The city was built in 1700 under the supervision of an official urban planner, Jens Beckfor. In the initial plan, it had 14 housing blocks for another 14.

It was completed with just 7 by 7, in order to give more space to the commerce that was expected to flourish.

We are in full heat. cumulus nimbus haughty things begin to intensify in the sky above. From the time it took us to discover the Antilles, we knew well what that heavy sky meant.

The same relentless sun that carried the sky, subjected passersby to the shadow of the succession of arcades on Strand Street, thus erected by the Danes also due to their white skin and the little melanin and resistance they offer to the sun's rays.

As they did in Christiansted, the buildings that lined it and that included the arcades were almost all yellow. Another one of a light blue or green, broke the uniformity that would otherwise bore the eye.

The Somewhat Decaying Resistance of Fort Frederik

Altogether, they contrasted with the emerald and turquoise hues of the Caribbean Sea and were strikingly at odds with the worn, peeling red of old Fort Frederik.


A few visitors circled here and there, looking for news.

We were dazzled by the unexpected decay of the fortress, quite different from the state of Fort Christiansvaern at the entrance to Christiansted, this one, beautiful and yellow, immaculate and surrounded by a matching grass and garden.

Strong Frederik, on the other hand, seemed to lack the respect for importance he always held.

An Intrusion by the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway into a Disputed Caribbean Domain

It was the Danish-Norwegian kingdom that dictated its construction, carried out between 1752 and 1760. At the time, the Antilles (Greater and Lesser) were fiercely disputed between England, France, Holland and Spain.

Unusual in those tropical parts of the world, the Denmark-Norway kingdom had to make an effort to keep from losing its islands, in part found without a dominant power and occupied (Saint Thomas and Saint John), in another part, acquired from the India company. French Westerners (Saint Croix).

The threat was not just in the great European nations. The term "Pirates of the caribbean” has its historical reason for being. Whether they were independent, or “sponsored” by the European Crowns to assault their rivals, a vast array of pirates, corsairs and, later, freebooters plowed through that same sea, keeping an eye on whatever seemed opportune.

Overloaded galleons, poorly protected ports and cities were invariably victims. Enriched by the benefits of sugar cane, Frederiksted did the bare minimum to resist.

Back to the south facade of the fortification, on the way to the bandstand at the heart of Buddhoe Park, we come across the Oscar E. Henry Customs House and, opposite, a dramatic looking bronze statue.

A bare trunk blows on a large conch. The statue is named “Freedom".


Frederiksted, and the Emancipation of the Slaves of Saint Croix

When we analyzed it, we immediately associated it with the most famous historical episode in Frederiksted, and the reason for the name of the park we walked through.

In 1848, everything remained in the same order and colonial oppression in which the Danish West Indies had thrived for nearly two centuries.

Until, on the 3rd of July of that same year, fifteen years after the British Slavery Abolition Act, a freed slave and respected craftsman by the name of Moses Gottlieb – better known as General Buddhoe – planned and aroused a revolt of the men held in slavery in Whim State and other plantations on the western tip of Saint Croix.

The slaves got together and rushed into an incendiary march that became known as “fireburn” and came to earn Frederiksted the epithet of “freedom city".

That same day, they managed to force the Governor-General of the island, Peter von Scholten, to proclaim at Fort Frederik and without return, their emancipation from the farmers who, against the current of history, held them captive.

From then on, without free labor, the Danes found themselves more and more in trouble to preserve their distant colonies.

Gradually, they abandoned them to ex-slaves and a few resistant Europeans.


The Great Virgin Islands Tsunami of 1867

In 1867, both of them went through an ordeal that took them by surprise.

An earthquake of great intensity generated waves almost eight meters high that entered the city. The Virgin Islands earthquake and tidal wave caused widespread destruction and at least five deaths.

Shortly after the turn of the 1917th century, the stampede of the Danes became official. Under the Danish West Indies Treaty of 25, the United States acquired the three main islands of the archipelago for US$XNUMX million.

Year after year, the islands and Frederiksted became African-Americanized until the reality that we unveil there.


The Frederiksted Something Americanized of Today

Today, the city has the only cruise port of Saint Croix. It developed a bipolar existence, alterable according to the presence and absence of large ships and the inundation of visitors from the contiguous United States.

On a day without cruises, we continue to navigate the intriguing, decadent and seductive post-colonial doldrums of Frederiksted.

Out of nowhere, a group of classmates dressed in school suits flock to the pier in front of the fort. Guided by a volunteer photographer, they dedicate themselves to a production under the motto of academic sensuality.

We amuse ourselves by appreciating their poses and expressions when the cumulus nimbus that all afternoon we saw rise, dictated the end of the recess.

Tropical Rainfall in the Caribbean Tropics

A tropical batega like we hadn't caught for a long time, punishes Frederiksted without appeal. The students and a few passers-by barely have time to reach the arcades that the Danes made protectors.

When they take shelter there, they are already soaked, resigned and even somewhat intimidated by the unexpected weather.


Three teenagers in bathing suits appear out of nowhere. They take refuge right next to us.

We exchanged a few words of circumstance. “This, at this hour usually takes a while!” they alert us like someone who warns that it would be better to wind up our legs.

An adult who arrives in a pick-up sends them a shout. The trio of teenagers say goodbye in a hurry. Go south of town, over the van box.

We still waited a while, to see if the weather contradicted them.

As soon as we realized how much their reason was helping them, we surrendered to the rain, looking for the ride we had arranged back to Christiansted.

Frederikstad-Saint-Croix-American Virgin Islands-Silhouettes

Christiansted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

The Capital of the Afro-Danish-American Antilles

In 1733, Denmark bought the island of Saint Croix from France, annexed it to its West Indies where, based at Christiansted, it profited from the labor of slaves brought from the Gold Coast. The abolition of slavery made colonies unviable. And a historic-tropical bargain that the United States preserves.
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