Monday, August 29, 2011

A change of perception for Winter Park

When the city of Winter Park was founded in the 1880’s, it was to be a resort city for rich northerners to come and relax during the harsh winter. With its warm weather and beautiful scenery, Winter Park quickly became the go to place to vacation. To cater to this rich crowd, the city needed workers who would be willing to work at the hotels and take care of the city during the off-season as well. Hannibal square became the community where the predominantly black workers would live, then cross the train tracks into winter park to work. The city was soon divided between the African-American and White communities; laws where even implemented that the black residents could not cross the train tracks after sunset. This division is still seen today and it has defiantly shaped the perception of modern day Winter Park.

This division shows a two sided Winter Park: the more developed and business focused side and the underdeveloped, more poverty stricken side. Park Avenue is very quaint, with lots of restaurants and shops that cater to a specific crowd namely old, rich, white people. This brings good business to the community, but it stays on this side of the track. Most of the up keeping stays on this particular side, making the perception that Winter Park only cares about the White community, and that the Black community has to fend for itself. Only in the last couple of years has Hannibal Square been re-developing on their own accord, including the Hannibal Heritage center where residents and tourists alike can now go to learn the Hannibal Square’s full story. Still, there is a lot of run down and under developed parts of the African American community in Winter Park that need to be dealt with. Although segregation is long in the past there is still a feeling of it in Winter Park with these two distinct and completely different communities.

Winter Park has been this way for a very long time, so it’s no surprise that any change is going to be a long and slow process. However, the perception of two communities should change. Both sides of the track need each other: one provides a place to world and the other provides the people to work there. Without each other, Winter Park wouldn’t be the thriving community we have today. The perception of Winter Park is ready to change and that means forgetting about the tracks that dived them and becoming one community to grow together.

1 comment:

  1. You suggest the impression from examine the development of the community is that city "only cares about the White community, and that the Black community has to fend for itself." While I understand your point, can you explain why white residents might disagree? They would argue inequality is a thing of the past. How would you respond?