Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Racial Division in Winter Park and the Change in Perception

Winter Park acquired it's name in the 1800s and it's easy to guess how it was named Winter Park. The wealthy northerners who were looking to escape the cold winters of New England traveled down to Central Florida to spend the winter months in the small, warm area known as Winter Park. This was a great vacation spot because it was warm all year round, but the travelers didn't have to stay for the hottest summer months. The New Englanders that founded Winter Park were industrialists who wanted to create a town that had museums and businesses and they wanted it to be unlike other Central Florida towns. These men were wealthy and after the railroad was constructed through the town, business increased as well as it became a site for tourists. The wealthy business men and their families were not the only people occupying the town. Many African Americans lived in the area already and came to work with the construction of the buildings, businesses and the land.

With the wealthy business men controlling business and buying up the land, a racial divide occurred that is not as prominent, but still noticeable when driving through different parts of Winter Park. The area called Hannibal Square along with the west side of town is predominately African Americans. This area was crime ridden, pretty run down and not very safe. The wealthy white population lived on the east side of Winter Park on the huge lots with giant houses and beautiful scenery. The east side also had the majority of businesses and restaurants that added to the elegant setting and life style of the wealthy whites.

This divide of races between the two sides of Winter Park has in fact shaped the perception of the city as a whole in that they are two completely different life styles that when put together create a very distinctive, diverse city. Back when Winter Park was developing, there was discrimination and not much cooperation between the two races except that the African Americans worked for the whites and of course worked the jobs they were given. For a long time there weren't many opportunities for the African Americans to receive benefits or education unlike the white population. Now a days there is not a whole lot of segregation nor discrimination between the two races and major changes within the community have taken place that preserve the good name of Winter Park, but make it even better. Over the past few years, Hannibal Square has dramatically improved physically with new roads and buildings and the whole west side has made dramatic changes. The east side still keeps it reputation as being expensive in the real estate market as well as the types of stores and restaurants are all top notch, but now there are many more job opportunities for any person seeking a job as well as the many college students that attended Rollins and are looking for jobs after they graduate.

Thus the perception f Winter Park has changed in a positive way and the community now is very united and proud, especially the older citizens who have remained here throughout some of the developments and social changes the city has gone through. Now there isn't a division between the African Americans and the whites as there was a long time ago. For the most part, everything is equal within the Winter Park community including jobs and the ability to afford to live in the pricier parts of town. No matter the race, people in the 21st century are able to work their way to be where ever they want to be and this is definitely the case with the citizens living in present day Winter Park.


  1. Having a black working community was one of the most essential parts in building Winter Park. The African Americans were brought to winter park to start building up homes and business centers for the white community. Even though the black community helped out in building Winter Park, they didn’t get the right of living in the same area as the white community. They were made to live on the other side of track (the west side). This racial segregation has helped in shaping the perception of Winter Park in many ways. I believe that this segregation made the black community work harder to earn their living because they didn’t have any other choice. It also made them start asking for their rights as citizens. The segregation has also helped dividing Winter Park. First side is the east side that is known for wealthy people by having the best restaurants and shops. And west side which was the complete opposite. But during the 21st century, the segregation started to almost vanish. Winter Park is now an area where people with different races live on both the east side and the west side with cooperation between the white and the black community. However, the east side still more expensive than the west side.

  2. I think we can see real distance between the African-American and white experience in Winter Park, but those difference are not as stark as they were in the past. By comparison, things have improved greatly over the years for African-American residents, but there is still a question of equality in values and sentiments.