Tampa's Perry Harvey Sr. Park offers glimpse of musical history and cultural past

If the summer slump has your school-aged children watching more Disney Channel than History Channel, how about a trip outside to see some of Tampa's real history?

Tampa's Perry Harvey Sr. Park is built on the city's historical past.

"It is a history lesson in a park," shared Robin Nigh, the manager of arts and cultural affairs for the city of Tampa.

It's located on Central Avenue, which was the birthplace of "The Scrub,” a business and cultural district settled by freed slaves.

"A lot of businesses that were along Central Avenue booked acts because they weren't allowed to play in the white community, came to (what was called) the  'Chitlin' Circuit," Nigh said. "It was a way to hear great musical talent."

That talent included musical greats like Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, and Ella Fitzgerald. 

"It is actually the very site where Ray Charles wrote his first song," exclaimed Nigh. "The exact location."

The city honored that musical history with sculptures to reflect the past. 

"The art is a narrative in many ways," shared Nigh. "It's an abstract celebration particularly of the music industry."

The park also features a winding sidewalk with a timeline for Central Avenue and the Park.

"It's a little bit like history in and of itself," said Nigh. "You could start at the middle or you could start at the end." 

But this outdoor adventure might just help you and those you visit with learn something about Tampa's past.

Click here to learn more about Perry Harvey Sr. Park or see it in person off of Central Avenue just outside of downtown Tampa at1201 N Orange St.