Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Division Between African-American and White shaped perception of Winter Park

Winter Park was built in around 1885. Before people named it as Winter Park, this city originally called Lakeview in 1858, and re-named Osceola in 1870. The founders of Winter Park are Oliver Everette Chapman and Loring Augusta Chase; they are good friends and both from north. They purchased three homesteads, which were about 600 acres land near Lake Osceola. The original purpose of building this city was setting up a winter resort for wealthy north people refuging their terrible winter in the north. Winter Park in the central Florida where always had a warm winter, and beautiful scenery attracted people from north coming to this small city.

By the 1850, the population in Florida was 87,445, and a large part of them were African American slaves, almost 39,000. After the American Civil War, North got the victory and slaves in the south became equal citizens who had the same right as white people. However, the discrimination still existed in the most area of south. The same thing happened in Winter Park. Although many white people came from north with more democratic thoughts, the discrimination also existed in Winter Park. Another part of people was slaves owners who got benefits from slaves in the past time. This small city was built for rich people spending their wintertime to rest and relax, so white people kept distance with black people, which induced west winter park and east winter park. The east winter park was for rich people to enjoy their lives, and west winter park was for African American to live. This has kind of similarity in the book Great Gatsby that people divided into different area by race or wealth.

In the different area, people had distinctive lives. For the east side, people had better streets, water lines, and even sewer than western people. Their children could have good education and nice environment to grow up. However, western people were not that lucky. They did not have business center, good hospital, and roads to transport goods to outside world. People living in the winter park had totally different cycle to live, and none of any group wanted to or was able to get into another cycle.

Last week, we visited Hannibal Square Heritage Center where gave us more details of west winter park. The staff in Hannibal Square took us walk around original west Winter Park. Although many building were rebuilt, we still could see some of old house, which built in 1890s’. A over hundred old woman still lived in her old house even if other people offered lots of money, enough buying a big house somewhere else, to buy her house. I noticed one thing that even today, without any obvious race discrimination existing, still could find the difference between white community and black community. Streets in eastern side still seemed more delicate than western side and most important fact was that the railroads cross the eastern area instead of western.

The division of African American and white influences Winter Park, and effects development of this small city a lot. I hope our society could develop in an equal way and discrimination will become less and less.

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