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  • Writer's pictureZachary Blair

What does neoliberalism have to do with Winter Park's disappearing urban tree canopy?

I am currently writing a piece on Winter Park's disappearing tree canopy that is part of a larger project I have been working on for the past several months. Briefly, it explores the disappearing urban forest that has resulted from contemporary, neoliberal urban development. More to come, but I have been using Google Maps street view to confirm my suspicions, document what I can remember, and provide evidence of my larger argument, which is more expansive than just a conversation about the environmental affects of increased housing construction. A few scholars and local writers have already written about gentrification in Winter Park, particularly in the context of Jim Crow segregation and the displacement of the city's black population in Hannibal Square (read here, here, and here; or go visit here). The project that I have been working on is a continuation and an expansion of this conversation.

Since these images/collages will not be used in the final article I am publishing, I thought my blog would be a good place to share some of this evidence that I have been collecting and the photographic timelines I have put together using Google Maps and Google Earth.

Here is a short preview of what is to come:

Below is a photographic timeline that shows Winter Park's disappearing tree canopy from Google Earth's satellite images. This is the neighborhood in Winter Park known as Dixie Terrace, which includes infill housing developments like Pennsylvania Place and Hamilton Place. It has been typical in this area for live oaks to be replaced by Southern Magnolias, usually due to construction concerns or aesthetics.


Below are two photographic timelines of the intersection of North Park Avenue and New York Avenue, showing the house that was once located at 1254 North Park Avenue being demolished and the lot being subdivided into two. The two two-story homes replacing the single-story mid-century will take up the entire lot, leaving little remaining green space. The paid of live oaks that lived along New York Avenue were also removed.

Below is a photographic timeline from another angle of the the house that was built at 1254 North Park Avenue and that was later demolished along with a number of trees on this property. This is the same lot as above that was subdivided into two.

Below is a photograph of one of the two homes that are being built in its place. Only two oak trees that were on this property were saved. These are the two that line North Park Avenue.


Below are photographs of a lot located at Pennsylvania Avenue and Northwood Circle, near Palm Cemetery. This property was once a vacant lot filled with oak trees and pine trees that has been subdivided into multiple lots, leaving little room for green space. Many trees were removed and construction on the new custom homes has already started.

Below are photograph of one of the homes that is being built at the above location, as well as all of the cleared lots that are currently for sale.

new home construction Winter Park Florida

Winter Park development


Below is a photographic timeline of the Paseo Apartments, which used to be home to the local Department of Motor Vehicles. The property, even with the previous building and parking lot, had a substantial number of old oaks. The development resulted in an outcry from local residents, due to both disappearing green space and the aesthetics of the new apartment building.


Since urban development has been a contentious issue for decades, I think it is important to note that the article that I am writing is not (at least directly) an argument against urban development, but rather it is an effort to identify social, political, and economic connections locally and globally. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide a perspective of local urban development that will encourage residents and local politicians to shift their current course.



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