We're visiting a Virgin Island this week, St. Croix, about 70 miles SE of Puerto Rico. Walking around the old part of Christiansted, we walked by a small park on Gallows Bay.
It was created by the neighbors, reminding us of the public place we are building in Coconut Grove, where four corners meet at Charlie's Woods.
Like "the Woods", This spot is a little funky, rough around the edges. It is made from found materials on the cheap. If anything it makes this Caribbean mini-park more unique and enjoyable.
The neighbors welcomed us, very happy to share the gathering place they created.
A hundred yards east of the park is the
city's fort. It was built in 1749 for pirate protection and to house the soldiers necessary to prevent a slave rebellion.
In 1820 there were 80 militiamen residing inside the fort and beyond its walls, 1700 white residents and their 18,000 slaves. The "bad ones" were kept in jail cells or the dungeon with a four-foot ceiling. There were four gallows just east, -where the park now stands- to help keep people in line.
It's an American horror story but places like Miami, Atlanta, and Charleston had slaves, soldiers, and hangin' trees too.
Much of the Americas were built on the backs of indentured servants. In St. Croix they worked the sugar plantations for two hundred years. In 1848 they rose up and demanded their freedom. The Danes in charge complied. The times they were a changin'. Denmark sold this island -the largest of the Virgins- to the U.S. in 1917.
The remains of slavery are marked by stone windmills that still top 145 of the hills here. Two centuries ago they supplied free power to process sugar. The free labor? The enslaved Africans are long gone but yesterday some of their descendants were enjoying the park they built on Gallows Bay. Except for the occasional hurricane, they seem to enjoy the good life here.
Still standing after 200 years.