Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

Vinegar Hill 1963

Dr. Scot French, Director of Public History, Associate Professor, University of Central Florida

Narrated by Dr. Marcus Martin, University of Virginia VP & Chief Officer for Diversity

This installation captures a day in the life of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood two years before its demolition. Vinegar Hill had long been an African American residential and business district, one that had thrived in the era of Jim Crow segregation. But in the mid-1960s it was declared "blighted" and zoned for Urban Renewal—or, as critics dubbed it, "Negro removal." Before it disappeared, Gundars Osvalds, a white, sixteen-year-old student at Albemarle High School, set out to document the place. Through Osvalds' viewfinder, we see the people of Vinegar Hill up close, at home, at work, and at play. On residential back streets, we catch glimpses of life behind the veil of segregation. We see a lost world captured on film by a naïve yet respectful outsider.

Today the city is planning a Vinegar Hill Park, a permanent commemoration on the Downtown Mall with historic markers, or kiosks, that recount Vinegar Hill's rise and fall.

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