Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How has the division between African-American and white community shaped perceptions of Winter Park?

The division between the African-American and Caucasian communities has shaped perceptions of Winter Park, FL. Winter Park, over the years, has had the perception of being a predominantly wealthy town and a popular tourist destination. In many eyes, Winter Park has always (since construction of the town “Winter Park” spanning from 1881-1885) been thought of as only being a community for Northern vacationers. This isn’t completely true because since the town’s creation, other residents have lived here also. African-Americans came down to construct new attractions and accommodations for the vacationers. They also staffed these places. These residents of Winter Park settled mainly in an area called “Hannibal Square.” Hannibal Square does not “blend in” to the Park Avenue landscape and used to seem divided from the, to many people, more attractive east side of Winter Park. Wealth, a prosperous lifestyle, attractive setting, fine restaurants, and exquisite shops are terms often associated with the white “East Side” community. Underprivileged and crime-ridden were terms often associated with the black “West Side” community of Winter Park. This “West Side” used to be thought of by many people as the “bad” side of town because of the aforementioned reasons. On the other hand, today, and over the past decade, many developments have been made. These improvements have often been provided for through tax dollars to improve the look of “Hannibal Square” to make it more appealing. The goal of the developers was to attract more residents to a “beautified” area. This in turn would bring more money into the area and consequently, economic development. I believe that the redevelopment has greatly helped the area as it has brought a positive vitality to the community creating a more constructive and safe environment in which to live. Some may view the external forces that are changing/redeveloping Hannibal Square as only a benefit for the external forces. I do not think this is so because I believe the redevelopment brings jobs to the residents and creates a more appealing setting for the residents. To continue, a very recent improvement to Hannibal Square that has lessened the divide between “white and black” Winter Park is the creation of a beautiful new Winter Park Community Center and Historical Society/Museum. The Historical Society’s aim is to educate others about the history of Hannibal Square and Winter Park. It most certainly enlightens those who visit as they learn about how the town was created and the experiences of residents on “both sides of the tracks.”
In the white “East Side” community of Winter Park, property is generally worth more because it’s in demand and is in a prime and very valuable location. For many years, in the black community: Hannibal Square, property was generally not as valuable as property of much of the white community. In the timeframe of approximately the past decade, the property values in the Hannibal Square area have risen as developers attempt to extend “East Side-looking” buildings and attractions into this area while compensating residents extremely well when purchasing their lots on which to develop. Some may view the redevelopment as negative insofar as it may “displace” the residents from their homes; however, in reality they are greatly compensated so they most likely will be able to afford a much nicer lifestyle upon the selling of their lots.

No comments:

Post a Comment