Figure 1: Click on Map for Details
My journey was on LYNX Route 1, a ride from Winter Park Village to the Altamonte Springs Mall.
Figure 2: Moving
My interest in TrIP stems from my research into the tension between real and imagined urban spaces. As an urban historian, I see perceptions linked to community and identity as one way to understand how we shape and reshape the city. Of course, writings about the history and theory linked to transportation are extensive. My goal here is to bridge the gap between the more impressionistic evaluations and some broad observations about space and place.
LYNX, like most mass transit systems, reflects community realities. The mass transit system in Sunbelt cities like Orlando act as a vital link to amplify and clarify broader communal goals. To be on the bus is to highlight economic questions central to city life. Where you live, work, and play is a function of the economy. How you arrive is another marker of economic success (or failure). Founded in 1972 to serve riders in Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties, LYNX has evolved and expanded along with the community. Last year, the organization set a ridership record and it seems on pace to beat that number in 2013. Despite this, memory and community as much as the service inform narratives about LYNX.
The United States’ consumer culture made automobile ownership a clear marker of middle-class success in a country where the vast majority of citizens have historically believed themselves to be middle-class (regardless of the reality).
Figure 3: Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends
Northern cities higher densities make traffic a barrier to regular automobile use. As a result, commuters make a rational decision to use mass transit. In contrast, southern cities growth has coincided with the rise of the car’s popularity.
Figure 4: Motor Age 1920
Morover, roads and automobiles were part of broader civic betterment movement in the urban south. Regardless of the region, scholarship points to basic economic demands as the primary issue shaping the city. Argued simply, capitalism provides a crude, but purposeful urban environment. Crude is a harsh descriptor, but economic conditions do shape our perception of the city. The contemporary (and historic) city is demarcated by financial decisions implemented to promote better fiscal outcomes. Unconsciously, we understand this fact, but struggle with its implication. Mass transit transverse spaces inscribed with meaning built around the struggle to achieve and affirm socioeconomic stability in our communities. TrIP offers me the opportunity to reflect on the historic and contemporary questions linked to these concerns.
Winter Park: Marketing Stories
In 1881, Oliver Everett Chapman and Loring A. Chase purchased 600 acres bordering Lakes Maitland and Osceola. Their goal was to develop a beautiful residential community of winter homes for wealthy Northerners. Between 1881 and 1885, Chapman and Chase developed and advertised the new town of Winter Park located just four miles from the county seat. Chase and Chapman relied on the area’s natural beauty to entice visitors.
Figure 5: Appleton’s Illustrated Handbook of American Winter Resorts (1895)
From the beginning Winter Park was presented as unique and accessible. To support tourism, between 1882 and 1886 Chase oversaw the construction of the Seminole Hotel. Reminiscent of the coastal luxury hotels, the Seminole was situated on Lake Osceola and offered two hundred guest rooms and amenities that included sailing, rowing, fishing, and two steam yachts for guests.
Figure 6: Recreation Department, Outlook Magazine (1896)
Nineteenth century steamship and railroad links made Winter Park a standout winter resort for those able to afford the trip.
Figure 7: Winter Park Street Scene, 1896
Winter ______ / ________ / _________ whatever the name, the climate shaped the sense that Florida communities offered a better existence. Residents attracted to the pleasant climate in the 1890s continued to shape the community into the 20th century. The new century brought a democratizing boom to travel as automobiles took advantage of the Dixie Highway that linked Montreal to Miami.
Figure 8: Tin Can Tourist in Miami
Tourists traveled long distances to investigate the state’s beaches and observe its natural spaces. Between 1915 and 1940, the number of tourist that visited the state increased dramatically. These visitors explored traditional destinations such as Miami, but also explored interior spaces with unique roadside attractions.
Figure 9: William Frost Layton on Rivera Beach
Figure 10: Training on Miami Beach
Wartime mobilization had a powerful effect on the nation, but arguable heighten Florida’s appeal. Thousand of veterans trained on Florida Beaches.
Figure 13: http://youtu.be/D7zdOfK03i8
After 1945 communities grew as returning soldiers made Florida their home. Marketing Florida did not change, but arguably those that could buy into the marketplace expanded year to year.
Figure 14: From Study of Winter Park, 1968
Figure 15: Winter Park Population Study of Winter Park, 1968
In the midst of Florida transformation, Winter Park moved to maintain its identity. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce produced brochures with the slogan, “City of Homes” holding true to a message of community and affluence.
Figure 16: From the Winter Park Sun Herald
Figure 17: From Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Brochure
Figure 18: Winter Park Sun Herald
Figure 19: From Winter Park Chamber of Commerce
Figure 20: Winter Park Mall, 1966
The Winter Park Mall joined Park Avenue to provide a comprehensive retail experience to Winter Park residents.
Figure 21: Winter Park Village
The message remains consistent today as Winter Park Village provides an updated retail experience on the site of the former mall.
Figure 22: Keep Winter Park…Winter Park
Maitland & Eatonville: A Story of Governance and Autonomy
Figure 23: On the Way to Maitland
The boundaries between communities along Route 1 are imperceptible if you are not paying attention. Similar to Winter Park in many ways, Maitland has a rich history. From the bus, contemporary Maitland comes across as both place and concept. Place vie with consumer space to create the neutral reality of modern exurbia. The Brooking Institution defined an exurb as “communities located on the urban fringe that have at least 20 percent of the workers commuting to jobs in an urbanized area, exhibit low housing density and have relatively high population growth.”
Figure 24: Incomes in Maitland and Winter Park via Rich Block Poor Block
Maitland can be associated with exurbia framework, but Route 1 brings a different history into focus.
Figure 25: Eatonville Gateway
The relationship between Maitland and Eatonville is a compelling saga. Eatonville is famous as the hometown of Zora Neale Hurston, author Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Mule Bone (1930), and numerous other works. The town, which was central to her writings, has a unique history apart from Hurston’s legacy. In the aftermath of the Civil War, African Americans made Florida a vital background for black civil rights. Startling in light of recent incidents, according to historian Paul Ortiz, “Black Floridians raised the theory and practice of direct action to a high art. Urban communities organized streetcar boycotts against segregated transportation. Male and female workers battled for higher wages, respect, and safer workplaces. Groups of black Floridians took up arms to stop lynching and racial violence.” The African-American challenge was aided by the actions of white allies with complex motivations. The oldest incorporated black municipality in the United States, Eatonville was founded in 1887 when twenty-seven African-American men, led by Joe Clarke, voted in support of a town charter. Named for Josiah Eaton, the mayor of Maitland, Eatonville’s existence owes much to the willingness of a limited number of white residents in Maitland willing to sell land to African Americans. Of course, nothing is as simple as it may seem. Before Eatonville’s founding, African Americans were scattered throughout Maitland. By supporting the formation of a black township, Maitland residents encouraged a voluntary segregation.
Figure 26: View of the Robert E. Hungerford Normal and Industrial School campus, 19–
Whatever the motivation, Eatonville flourished as a haven for African Americans. Eatonville provided black residents with the opportunity for self-government, economic development, and education. Home to the Robert E. Hungerford Normal and Industrial School, the town became the default destination for African Americans seeking an education beyond primary school all over the region.
Figure 27: Home of J.E. Clarke
Eatonville demonstrated African Americans could achieve in political, social, and economic endeavors southern whites claimed them unable to accomplish.
Figure 28: Eatonville City Council, 1907
Black townships like Eatonville were testaments to the African-American ability to create communities. Celebrated by African-American leaders like Booker T. Washington, many communities were created, but few survived. Eatonville’s provided Hurston and other children in the town a haven from the harsh realities of segregation. A successful and affirming community filled with examples of educated property owning individuals, this community shaped Hurston’s fascination with celebrating black culture and identity in her work. This legacy continues to shape the community today.
Figure 29: Bus stop on S. Lake Destiny Road
Passing through the heart of Eatonville, and under the I-4 interstate, you witness the limitation community autonomy. While I-4 passed on the outskirts of Winter Park, it cuts through Eatonville creating splintered sense of place. Adding to the confusion, Route 1 quickly crosses back into Maitland’s exurban space.
Figure 30: S. Lake Destiny Road
The exurbia reflect contemporary economic circumstances. In an ironic twist as you leave Eatonville, you are squeezed by I-4 on one side and office parks on the other. Outgrowths of postwar suburban transformations, office parks were a sign of the shift away from the traditional central business district. Today, they dot the U.S. landscape. Similar in look and feel, office parks are characterized by their lack of character and express the economic trends of the day as businesses move in and out.
Figure 31: Future of Education?
Figure 32: Future of Education…for Lease.
The Great Recession has shaken American belief in the dream of future generations doing better. The continued evolution of the United States’ industrial economy to a service economy suggests an increasingly difficult path for those seeking employment. Education remains a treasured mechanism to improve your life, but rising costs are problem. The promise of market driven solution to declining education access mean the office parks are a natural space to find for profit online schools. Transform by the recent rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) online education is seen as a challenge establish education models. The democratizing power of online education is touted as a way to allow the working poor to improve their chances of moving up the economic ladder. LYNX riders are the perfect demographic for this uplift narrative. While recent research challenges these claims, the affirming educational narratives along this journey is impossible to ignore.
Altamonte Springs: Urban Symmetry
My trip ends in perfect symmetry at the Altamonte Springs Mall. Altamonte Springs, like Winter Park, has a long history.
Figure 33: Altamonte Springs Historic Marker
Unlike Winter Park, Altamonte Springs’s identity is more amorphous. As old as any community in the region, the official description lends itself to a sense of impermanence.
Figure 34: Altamonte Springs Newsletter Fall 2013
Figure 35: Altamonte Springs City Newsletter Fall 2013
Championed in official publications as one of the top 25 places to live in the United States and as the crossroads of the region, much of Altamonte’s external identity is shaped by transit. More influence by the mercurial nature of exurbia than historical character, the community is defined by massive spaces dedicated to retail and leisure.
Figure 36: Intersection of History and Commerce
Figure 37: Festival Drive
The official narrative tells the story so well: “Cranes Roost Park is at the heart of Uptown Altamonte surrounding Cranes Roost Lake. The lake is encircled by one mile of continuous walkway with benches and covered seating areas. Within the 45-acre park is a European-style plaza which includes a choreographed fountain show and a 62-foot picturesque tower as well as the Eddie Rose Amphitheater with stadium-style seating and a one-of-a-kind floating stage. Note the cobblestone-style pathways, ionic columns, gathering areas with seating, themed lighting fixtures all ready for leisurely strolls, listening to music, or just enjoying the beauty of the park. Cranes Roost Park is Central Florida’s premier outdoor event venue with weekly, monthly and annual events. Park rentals are available.”
Aspirational in tone and promising a residential experience consumers have demonstrated they desire, the language around Crane Roost Park and Uptown Altamonte shouldn’t be marginalized. Nonetheless, it looks and feel, detached from the history and culture of the region, create dissonance around what we believe represent community. Uptown Altamonte is designed to look and feel like other spaces, but because it does it so well, we struggle to recognize it as a place. Adding to the problem, despite its amenities, there is an organic icon for the community.
Figure 38: Majesty Building
The distinctive curved top of the unfinished Majesty Building acts as an iconic marker for Altamonte Springs. Perhaps the tallest building visible between Orlando and Daytona Beach, the Majesty is better example of the Florida mindset than Uptown Altamonte. Owned by Christian broadcaster SuperChannel 55, the office building has been under construction for thirteen years. The project was intended to generate revenues to fund the broadcast operation. Referred to as the “I-4 eyesore” or “the mistake by the lake” by some, the skyscraper’s story intersects with the tradition of aspiration and determination central to the Florida experience.
Figure 39: Altamonte Springs Mall Bus stop
My TrIP experience intersected with questions of community and identity, but it also highlighted aspirations and inspirations that shaped Central Florida’s past and future. Neither the leisure space outsiders assume or cosmopolitan space insiders aspires it to be, the Central Florida region is creating a future while contenting with its past.