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    Demens Landing Park is one of our tour stops across the water from Al Lang Field, dedicated in 1977 to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to St. Petersburg's History and the larger unifying power of the American melting pot. Pronounced de-Men’s Landing, it was named after one of our cities’ two founders.

    In 1888 the Orange Belt Railway built by John C. Williams and Peter Demens reached present day St. Petersburg. There was a famous coin-toss wager between the two on who would name the city, Peter Demens won and named the city after his birthplace in Russia. John C Williams named the cities’ first hotel after his birthplace Detroit, Michigan. Most of the Detroit Hotel has been built over but parts of it are visible today at Mastry’s on Central Ave and 2nd St. 

    It is important to note as a window into the cultural conditions during Kerouac's time in Florida that during the 1950s the only swimming area available to the black community of St. Petersburg was a blighted area, then called South Mole that had Atlantic Coastal Railroad freight and passenger cars parked on it.

    The long and fraught struggle over segregated swimming areas and beach access reached a tipping point. Spa Beach was a recreational site with a swimming pool and beach access in the area that is now the Pier. Despite not having an official law stating so, black residents were barred from access to Spa Beach leading to a court case Alsup vs St. Petersburg about the city being in violation of “equal protections” of the 14th amendment.

    Despite the court victory after two occasions of black residents gaining access and peacefully swimming at Spa Beach, the area was shut down by city officials and access to all residents was barred in 1958 from June 9th to September 3rd (Paulson, 1982)

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