Trotters Park was once Ben White Raceway, at one time the largest training facility for harness racing in the United States and the winter home of championship harness races and racehorses.
The holiday season in downtown Orlando is a familiar sight. Perhaps one of Orlando’s most iconic holiday decorations is the yellow Christmas star that illuminates the intersection of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard each year.
When Orange County Deputy Sheriff George Fields arrived at Room 208 of Orlando’s San Juan Hotel early on the morning of Feb. 16, 1938, 19-year-old Dolores Myerly had been dead for about 30 minutes. No one in the City Beautiful could have predicted where it would lead.
Every state, every city, has ghost stories; Orlando is no exception. Along with its tourist attractions, both modern and from yesteryear, the city boasts a reputation for excellent spooky stories. Some ghostly tales involve historic buildings, such as the 1886 Bumby Building on West Church Street.
Former slaves founded Orlando’s first African American community about 1880, when Sam Jones and his wife, Penny, settled along the banks of Fern Creek, about a mile east of Orlando’s downtown. Orlando’s promise of growth and prosperity attracted other African Americans hoping to find new lives in Florida.
College Park, the Orlando neighborhood that was originally home to citrus and pineapple growers, also has a history of water-themed attractions including Orlando’s very first water park, a mystifying sinkhole, and a spouting well. Discover Russell’s Pavilion, the Mystery Sink, and the Fairview Geyser.
Ownership of Dubsdread remained in the Dann family until the City of Orlando purchased it in 1978. The course has seen a variety of changes over the years, almost all of which resulted in making the course shorter to allow for more residential growth.
Father Pinder led the fight to integrate Orlando’s restaurants and lunch counters, stores, playgrounds, parks, and schools. He helped to persuade the Orlando Sentinel to eliminate its “Negro Section” and to cover African Americans in the main edition of the paper.
The change Disney created in Orlando surely qualifies as the most dramatic and complete, with the most far-reaching consequences, but it was definitely not the first. Historian Tana Porter lists other significant events that shaped the City Beautiful.
Being sick or injured in early 20th-century Orlando was a much different experience than it is today. If you could not afford to pay a doctor to make a house call, you might have found yourself in a lantern-lit hospital ward, cooled only with fans blowing over crushed ice.