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Park Avenue is the dining and retail hub of Winter Park, and one of the most eclectic commercial districts in all of Florida. It’s anchored by Central Park, a carefully manicured, 11-acre green space dotted with monuments relevant to Winter Park’s history. The park also hosts numerous major events, such as the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. ing, as one newspaper of the time reported, “a first- class resort of Northern and Southern men of wealth, where amidst orange groves and beautiful lakes and luxuries that every enterprise and wealth can devise and command, a community of grand winter homes, a resort second to none in the South.” A few years later, when municipalities throughout the state submitted bids to be the site of Florida’s first four-year institution of higher learning, most considered Jacksonville the odds-on frontrunner. With 8,000 residents, it was the most populous city in Florida and offered an enticement of $13,000 along with several acres of land. Winter Park had only a few hundred residents, but among them were numerous well-heeled Northern businessmen who had built winter homes here. They knew what a college, along with its cultural amenities, could mean to a small outpost of gentility on the Florida frontier. 20 LIVING IN WINTER PARK When Winter Park representatives trumped the Jacksonville bid nearly nine-fold, with an offer of $114,000 and prime acreage along lakes Virginia and Osceola, the rest of Florida took notice. Rollins College was born, welcoming its first students in the fall of 1885. And Winter Park, incorporated two years later, won its now longstanding reputation as a place where residents are willing to invest in their community for the greater good. For all the contemporary talk about communities that embrace “New Urbanism”— witness Celebration, Seaside and myriad other wannabes — Winter Park was all about New Urbanism before New Urbanism was cool. The city’s livability stems in large part from the original plans fostered by developers Chase and Chapman in the late 19th century. They brought in a civil engineer, Samuel Robinson, who although not a town planner by


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