In the mid-1880s, laborers were needed to construct new railroads in the area of Florida. This spot commemorates the location of the arrival of the first Africa- American workers who came to this area to work on these railroads. The place was named for the famous reformer Booker T. Washington. These African-Americans worked on building the J.T. and K.W. Railroad lines and constructed a bridge which linked the railways between Tampa and Jacksonville.
Backstory and Context
In the 1920s, the Sanford Development Company parceled out the land, built streets, and laid out a plan for an area where black Americans could live, worship, attend schools, work, and enjoy the freedom to live and be productive and have a community. Here, the streets were named to commemorate prominent African Americans like Paul Lawrence Dunbar, W.E.B. Dubois, Richard Allen, and Frederick Douglass. The area itself was named after Booker T. Washington, who advanced the cause of black education and rights in the early 20th Century.
Many of the areas farms grew celery which became the crop that replaced the citrus crops which had been ruined by the heavy winters of 1894-95. The celery and other vegetables were much hardier than the more delicate citrus fruit. Collecting the sap of the local pine trees was another source of income for the area. The sap was used to make turpentine. Wood was also harvested for use as fuel for the early steam engines used on the railroads.