Remembering Paradise Park
Tourism and Segregation at Silver Springs
Lu Vickers and Cynthia Wilson-Graham
American Library Association "Best of the Best of the University Presses"
"A strange and unsettling glimpse of the land of sun and surf in the waning moments of segregation in the South."--Gilbert King, author of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
"A testament to the efforts of a black community determined to provide wholesome recreation for their families in a segregated society. This masterpiece of local history changes the way we think about the history of tourism and civil rights."--Susan Sessions Rugh, author of Are We There Yet?: The Golden Age of American Family Vacations
"The story of Florida tourism has been told in many ways, but this book gives a perspective that has been missing from most of them. Vickers and Wilson-Graham finally open the gates to Paradise Park so that all are welcome to sample its wonders."--Tim Hollis, author of Selling the Sunshine State: A Celebration of Florida Tourism Advertising
"An invaluable time capsule. This bittersweet book vividly describes the joys of Paradise Park, while acceptance and endurance of racist practices are also remembered and voiced."--Marsha Dean Phelts, author of An American Beach for African Americans
Paradise Park was the "colored only" counterpart to Silver Springs, a central Florida tourist attraction famous for its crystal-clear water and glass bottom boats. Together the two parks comprised one of the biggest recreational facilities in the country before Disney World. From 1949 to 1969, boats passed each other on the Silver River--blacks on one side, whites on the other. Though the patrons of both parks shared the same river, they seldom crossed the invisible line in the water.
Full of vivid photographs, vintage advertisements, and interviews with employees and patrons, Remembering Paradise Park portrays a place of delight and leisure during the painful era of Jim Crow. Racial violence was at its height in Florida--the famous Groveland rape case happened right as Paradise Park opened--and many African Americans saw the park as a safe place for families. It was a popular vacation spot for the area’s black community, one of the most cohesive and prosperous in the South.
Tracing the color line through Florida's most famous spring, this book compares the park to other tourist destinations set aside for African Americans in the state and across the country. Though Silver Springs was Florida's only attraction to operate a parallel facility for African Americans, Paradise Park has been just a whisper in the story of Florida tourism until now.
Lu Vickers is the author of Cypress Gardens, America's Tropical Wonderland: How Dick Pope Invented Florida and the novel Breathing Underwater. She is coauthor of Weeki Wachee Mermaids: Thirty Years of Underwater Photography. Cynthia Wilson-Graham is an educator and lecturer, whose advocacy was instrumental to the installation of a historical marker by the Bureau of Historic Preservation at the former entrance to Paradise Park.
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Best of the Best of the University Presses - 2016
Authors Lu Vickers and Cynthia Wilson Graham have put together a comprehensive history on this long forgotten vacation destination.
Paints a picture of a place of fun during a painful period in time, comparing it to other tourist spots set aside exclusively for African-Americans at the time.
The first to examine Silver Springs’ little known sister park, Paradise Park. . . . [It] unveils the complex origins and demise of Silver Springs’ separate theme park for African Americans.
A comprehensive and contextualized account of Paradise Park’s (and Silver Springs’) history. . . . A valuable addition to the meager volume of literature on African American tourism in Jim Crow Florida.
--Florida Historical Quarterly