The site of what could be Florida's oldest beach resort for African-Americans is hidden somewhere in the dunes of Hanna Park, largely forgotten but kept alive by a handful of surviving photos, a few stories and a surviving cent round-trip train ticket from Jacksonville to this slice of sandy paradise. For several decades, starting about , Manhattan Beach was a refuge for black beach-goers in segregated Northeast Florida, becoming a bustling place that included pavilions and boardwalks, swimsuit rentals, concessions and vacation homes. She'd like to see a historical marker placed in what's now Hanna Park, the oceanfront park owned by the city of Jacksonville. And she's also hoping to hear from anyone who has old family stories or photos. The resort began life aroun as railroad magnate and developer Henry Flagler built the grand old wooden Continental Hotel in rural Atlantic Beach, on the oceanfront between Seventh and 10th streets. Many who helped build it and staff it were black, but they could not use the resort for recreation. So Flagler, having little need for the oceanfront he owned to the north, set part of it aside for blacks to use.
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The Manhattan Beach effort began on this year's Juneteenth, a day celebrating June 19, , the day the last enslaved African American people became free .
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Social Media Influencers. People would come from all over the Southeast. There was no other beach for them to go to," she said.
On Amelia Island and Founded in American Beach is Florida's first African American beach. Located in Jacksonville this tourist destination was founded by Florida's first black millionaire. Manhattan Beach's best FREE dating site! Free Online Dating for Manhattan Beach Singles at ignitesucceed.com Our free personal ads are full of single women and men in Manhattan Beach looking for serious relationships, a little online flirtation, or new friends to go out with. Start meeting singles in Manhattan Beach today with our free online personals and free Manhattan Beach chat! Total occupied homes of Black Or African American in Manhattan Beach with people under 18 years old: Total: ; Population of homes with one or more people under 18 years: 34; Population of family homes: 34; Husband-wife family: 26; Under 6 years only: 5; Under 6 years and 6 to 17 years: 3; 6 to 17 years only: 18; Other family: 8; Male householder, no wife present: 3; Under 6 years only: 1.
Racial segregation was very much a reality in those days; indeed inPablo Beach passed a law making it illegal for whites and blacks to bathe together in the ocean. Cohill believes Manhattan Beach may predate any other black beach resort in the state.
It may be Florida's first; I still have to do a little more digging before I can make that official claim," she said. No confirmed physical evidence of Manhattan Beach has been found: Storms scoured the beach and dunes where it once stood and developers later demolished the remaining buildings.
But Cohill believes, based on old maps and photographs, that it was near the high dunes at parking lot 8, toward the south end of what's now Hanna Park. Black entrepreneurs such as Mack Wilson and William Middleton ran beach pavilions there with lodging and entertainment.
Photos from the s show the two resorts, built into the dunes and sprawling onto the beach. Wilson's place had a cafe and a bathhouse, and offered "bath suits, dancing, and rooms. I don't know if he had 1, bathing suits.
A photo of Middleton's resort showed a pavilion built high over eroded dunes, just to the east of a couple of substantial buildings where women in white dresses and men in hats, vests and dark pants take in the sea air.
They spent four weeks living in tents near the beach, under the care of doctors and nurses. In the early years, blacks were able to buy property in Manhattan Beach, which Flagler owned.
His Atlantic Beach hotel wasn't hugely successful, and he needed money more than he needed the land, Cohill said. Aroun though, white investors began buying land throughout the area, planning a resort that would stretch to the St.
Johns river jetties.
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They refused to sell to blacks, Cohill said, and set up restrictive rental policies. Manhattan Beach hung on though, and by a group called the Manhattan Beach Amusement Corporation was boasting in a brochure of its resort, which "offers only amusement of the better class.
Erosion was an ever-present threat to the area's pavilions, which photos show extended onto the sand.
When the property was gone, it was gone - there was no recourse. No beach renourishment or big seawalls were there to offer even temporary protection.
Soon black residents of Jacksonville had another beach to visit.