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The Railroad Shop Colored Addition - Allapattah, Miami
Danna Rae mentioned Allapattah Memories. She recalls growing up in this area in the '40's and '50's. She asks a question I haven't heard in a few years. The area where she lived, in Allapattah, Miami, Florida, she states was originally known as the Railroad Shop Subdivision. She asks about the history of this area. Actually it was part of Miami's shameful past and was known as the Railroad Shop Colored Addition.
Just before the turn of the century, Blacks were brought in to help build the Flagler Railroad. More came from the Bahamas. Later, the area on the north side of Allapattah was settled by Blacks, mostly from the downtown Miami area, Overtown. It was a cohesive community, with Blacks owning their own homes in most cases, with fruit trees, small gardens, churches and businesses.
In 1947, Black families were forcibly evicted from the area through eminent domain process to make way for homes, schools, a park, and a fire station for White families. See a video history in the Miami Herald. Imagine being forced to abandon your home - a small haven of safety and peace in a difficult and stressful world - with no recourse!
When we first came to Allapattah in 1960, segregation was still in effect but beginning to crumble. Most Blacks lived in smaller, poorer homes, were under-employed, under-educated and most had few expectations of a better life. Therefore I was surprised to see, here and there, some living in better situations and finer homes on the northern edge of Allapattah. At the time, I didn't know the history of the area. As Whites had fled to the suburbs, Blacks were once again able to buy homes in the old Railroad Shop Addition, now known only as Allapattah. As fate would have it, this area is once again a mostly Black community, closer to the Liberty City community to the north, than Allapattah on the other side of State Road 112, which is predominantly Hispanic.
Why did we stay put in Allapattah? The area was becoming increasingly black and Hispanic. I had learned some Spanish and was eager to learn more, had no racial nor ethnic prejudice nor preference, and was seriously suspicious of the "better life" available by purchasing an overpriced home in suburbs such as Carol City. Further, long term the jobs were closer in, therefore transportation costs and time was greatly eliminated by living centrally.
It took fifty years, but we are now in with the trend. Miamians are flocking to the amenities of Central Miami, primarily along the northern Biscayne Boulevard corridor and it's southern counterpart, the Brickell area. Of course, one cannot compare those areas with Allapattah, still showing its rural and working class roots, but I'm happy with our choice (and fluent in Spanish!).
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