Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Perception of Winter Park & "The Other Side of the Tracks"

The statement “the other side of the tracks” has been one that indicates that the other side is not as good, or even more dangerous than the side one is already on. Saying someone is from the other side of the tracks implies that they are from a certain neighborhood that is not as good as the one you’re from. This is a generally negative way of describing the side of Winter Park that is across the tracks. When Winter Park was first established it was to be a place for the rich to come and relax. People who could afford it would build vacation homes and employ workers for the upkeep and such while they were away. These workers came from the other side of the tracks known as Hannibal Square. Typically, this is where impoverished black Americans resided, and they were the people who went to the “better” side of Winter Park to work.

One side of Winter Park was rich with excitement. Businesses began to flourish as upper class white people began making it their new home. Winter Park was and is still today a very petite town with lots to do. Between the amount of cute shops and restaurants I can’t image this town not being a tourist attraction. Winter Park really is that nice country club your parents were members of or the resort town you went on vacation to as a kid. But there is also another side of Winter Park that does not have quite the same qualities.

In my personal experience, I came to Winter Park as I was considering Rollins. I thought the atmosphere was amazing and the town was beautiful. Everywhere I went it looked like a picture in a magazine, until I walked around the railroad a bit. I had my camera in hand and as I crossed the tracks I began to notice a change. I thought to myself that I probably should not be in this area very late, and so I took a quick look around and scurried back to my hotel. Although this did not change my perception of Winter Park, it definitely opened my eyes to the fact that it’s not so beautiful all the time.

Even more so than this experience, when our class visited Hannibal Square it became more apparent that Winter Park had two sides. Going to Hannibal Square was very interesting and showed a lot of progress. Once upon a time this area was very poor, and maybe even the exact opposite of “the other side.” Now, Hannibal Square is really trying to make a name for itself by rebuilding the area and the relationship with the town as a whole. Since this process has begun, it really has changed my perception of Winter Park in that it is not as divided as it used to be. You can see an effort being made by the town to help Hannibal Square in its visions for the future.

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