September 02, 2015

21 historic photos from Paradise Park, Central Florida's tourist attraction 'for colored people'

In the days of Jim Crow, African Americans in Central Florida didn't have many places they could turn to for recreation outside of their insular communities. But on one side of the Silver River in Silver Springs, Fla. there was Paradise Park, the tourist attraction "for colored people."

From 1949 to 1969, the park provided a refuge to vacation and forget about the harsh violence occurring in Florida at the time.

Authors Lu Vickers and Cynthia Wilson Graham have put together a comprehensive history on this long forgotten vacation destination in their book, "Remembering Paradise Park." The book features photographs, park advertisements and interviews with employees and patrons.

What you see here are 21 images of the book that incapsulate the historical significance of the other side of the river.

"Remembering Paradise Park" is currently available for purchase at Amazon and Target.

Scroll down to view images
Tourists aboard the river steamboat Okeehumkee at Silver Springs, Florida. Hubbard Hart built the boat in 1873 for his Hart Line. He hired many African American men as captains and crew. By permission of the State Archives of Florida. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Tourists aboard the river steamboat Okeehumkee at Silver Springs, Florida. Hubbard Hart built the boat in 1873 for his Hart Line. He hired many African American men as captains and crew. By permission of the State Archives of Florida. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Big Letter postcard from Silver Springs featuring the glass bottom boats, the horseshoe palms, and underwater swimming, circa 1945. By permission of Lu Vickers. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Big Letter postcard from Silver Springs featuring the glass bottom boats, the horseshoe palms, and underwater swimming, circa 1945. By permission of Lu Vickers. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Posing in their swimsuits in an advertisement for Paradise Park are (left to right) Ida Lee Donaldson, unknown, Susie Long, Alma Jacobs, Patricia Bright, and Ernestine Stevenson, 1950. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Cynthia Wilson-Graham. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Posing in their swimsuits in an advertisement for Paradise Park are (left to right) Ida Lee Donaldson, unknown, Susie Long, Alma Jacobs, Patricia Bright, and Ernestine Stevenson, 1950. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Cynthia Wilson-Graham. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
A group of scouts watch their friends feeding the fish from the glass bottom boat. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Marion County Black Archives. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
A group of scouts watch their friends feeding the fish from the glass bottom boat. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Marion County Black Archives. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
A group of visitors look out toward the float in the swimming area of Paradise Park. The boat dock is to the right. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
A group of visitors look out toward the float in the swimming area of Paradise Park. The boat dock is to the right. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Eddie Vereen glances over the grounds of Paradise Park from the boat dock. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Cynthia Wilson-Graham. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Eddie Vereen glances over the grounds of Paradise Park from the boat dock. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Cynthia Wilson-Graham. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Timothy Howard, dressed as Santa Claus, arrived at Paradise Park on a glass bottom boat. Here he passes out Christmas gifts to the children. Eddie Vereen, wearing a hat, looks on. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Marion County Black Archives. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Timothy Howard, dressed as Santa Claus, arrived at Paradise Park on a glass bottom boat. Here he passes out Christmas gifts to the children. Eddie Vereen, wearing a hat, looks on. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Marion County Black Archives. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
The Vereen family celebrates a birthday at their home. Eddie Vereen is seated at the rear right corner of the table with his grandson Reginald Lewis in his lap. Arizona Vereen-Turner is standing near the rear left corner. By permission of Henry Jones. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
The Vereen family celebrates a birthday at their home. Eddie Vereen is seated at the rear right corner of the table with his grandson Reginald Lewis in his lap. Arizona Vereen-Turner is standing near the rear left corner. By permission of Henry Jones. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
A group of Boy Scouts from Troop 41, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Sarasota, pose for a picture while visiting Paradise Park. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Marion County Black Archives. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
A group of Boy Scouts from Troop 41, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Sarasota, pose for a picture while visiting Paradise Park. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Bruce Mozert. Courtesy of Marion County Black Archives. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Peggy Mixon visits the Seminoles at Ross Allen’s Seminole Indian Village at Silver Springs. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Peggy Mixon. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.
Peggy Mixon visits the Seminoles at Ross Allen’s Seminole Indian Village at Silver Springs. Photo by Bruce Mozert. By permission of Peggy Mixon. Reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida.