Pensacola Beach Icons
By Katie King
Pisa has its Leaning Tower. Pensacola Beach has its Water Tower.
One could argue ours is just as famous.
Okay… so maybe that’s a stretch. But nothing symbolizes Pensacola Beach more than our Beach Ball Water Tower. Located in the Casino Beach parking lot, the infamous tower in the heart of the island is painted as a giant, festive beach ball. You cannot miss it.
Although the water tower has not been in use for over a decade, the mere talk of dismantling it would cause an uprising amongst locals and visitors alike. It’s a fan favorite. There isn’t a day that goes by where you don’t see people taking perspective photos like they are holding up the ball in a leaning-tower-of-Pisa style, or resting it on their head or shoulder, etc.
Another local landmark that goes hand-in-hand with the Beach Ball Water Tower is our iconic, sailfish-shaped Pensacola Beach welcome sign. This historic, neon marlin has directed generations of motorists to turn right off U.S. 98 from Gulf Breeze, leading them directly over the Bob Sikes Bridge onto Pensacola Beach.
The Santa Rosa Island Authority commissioned the original Pensacola Beach sign in the late 50s. Although it’s been through several replacements over the decades, to this day, the iconic landmark remains the SRIA’s logo and adorns everything from postcards to throw pillows locally.
Looking for something a little more historical? Another beach landmark not-to-be-missed is the Pensacola Beach Cross, which commemorates the first religious service in the Pensacola area almost 500 years ago. Dominican friars with Spanish explorer Don Tristán de Luna’s fleet performed the mass on August 15,1559 on Pensacola Beach to celebrate the Assumption of Mary.
The Pensacola Beach cross was erected in 1959 as part of the city’s celebrations commemorating the 400th anniversary of Spanish explorer Tristán de Luna’s settlement of Pensacola. De Luna’s settlement pre-dates both the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine and the English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. The large, white cross rests atop a tall, beachfront sand dune on the western side of the beach on Fort Pickens Road, just before you hit Peg Leg Pete’s restaurant. Tip: The cross makes for a beautiful sunrise or sunset photo, or a moody stormfront on the horizon snap.
Feeling quirky? For an “out-of-this-world” Gulf Coast landmark, visit the UFO House.Yes, that’s right. Extraterrestrials landed their spacecraft atop a house on Pensacola Beach over four decades ago, and locals have been trying to glimpse a sighting of them there ever since.
Considering that the beach’s very own flying saucer house has resisted lift off for four decades weathering hurricanes and storm surge on Pensacola Beach – it even held its ground through Hurricane Ivan in 2004 – who’s to say that aliens aren’t protecting it?
Located at 1304 Panferio Drive, the ‘Spaceship House’ is actually a prefabricated home designed in the 1960s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, who dubbed it ‘Futuro House’. Less than 100 homes were ever built. It was originally designed to be a lightweight ski cabin with built-in modern furniture. Today, fewer than 60 remain, scattered across the world – each a unique take.
There’s no denying that Pensacola Beach has a personality all it’s own and these well-loved icons show what a diverse and special place it is.
Next time you head to the beach, take a quick tour of these iconic sites, snap a few photos and share your Pensacola Beach Experience on social media. #visitpensacolabeach.