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The Deuces: To Know this City - First Know this Street
[Times photo: Jamie Francis]
In the decades of segregation in St. Petersburg, there was a street where black residents had their own stores, their own schools, their own clubs in a time when whites kept pushing them to the margins of the city. This was 22nd Street S -- The Deuces. Where has it been and where might it be going?

By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 28, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- It was a journey of discovery.

More than a year ago, Neighborhood Times decided to look at a few city blocks that years ago hummed with the life and music and passion of people who helped build St. Petersburg but were shunted to its margins.
The Dueces: A special multimedia report

Nicknamed The Deuces, the stretch of 22nd Street S once was downtown for African-Americans. Segregation kept them away from the city's white downtown, where even the famed green benches were off-limits to blacks.

We were interested in 22nd Street S because the city government has made it a major element in plans to bring new business and a better economy to a depressed neighborhood.

We wanted to see what made 22nd thrive, what made it die and whether its past holds lessons for the 21st century.

Many of the people we asked about 22nd Street opened their scrapbooks, their memories and their hearts. Neighborhood Times spoke to about 100 people about the street's past and present. Some granted in-depth interviews more than once; some of their comments are included in a special report you can find in today's St. Petersburg Times. Others let us use photos.

People spoke about looking out for one another, sharing hardships and most of all, about bonding that has lasted to this day, even though the neighborhood's people have scattered throughout the city, state and nation.

Elicia Eva-Bonner helped organize a reunion of 22nd Street residents July 20 at Lake Maggiore Park. Hundreds attended.

"The same friends I had as a baby, they're still my friends," she said.

Twenty-second Street S fostered a neighborhood powerful in its own way. Today's special report tells part of that story.

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