The Weston District

The western half of Vibora Bay has traditionally been known as “the wrong side of the tracks” (or, more accurately, of High Street). Poorer, less well-developed, less well maintained, and more crime-ridden than Easton, it’s euphemistically described as a “working-class area”.

Business Park

This entire neighborhood sprang up around Vibora Gay International Airport after its refurbishment in the late 1960s. It primarily consists of business-class and chain hotels, car rental agencies, storage facilities, and small offices organized into blocks. The freeway access ramps for getting on and off Route 98 are famous for being jammed with traffic, a problem that only gets worse when there’s a football game nearby Hammerhead Stadium.

Atwater

Atwater is a small, mostly residential neighborhood wedged in between Inner Weston, Far Weston, and the 98 Freeway. Many of the people who live there work at the nearby airport or at Hammerhead Stadium. Compared to many Weston neighborhoods, Atwater is peaceful and safe, with lower crime rates better schools, better shopping and better services.

Catalina

Catalina, the poorest neighborhood of Weston, is largely made up of small ethnic enclaves and rundown apartment complexes beset with street gangs. Drugs, poverty, homelessness, crime and related social ills are rampant. What businesses remain here are primarily fast food restaurant, check-cashing facilities and discounters, along with a number of pawn shops, struggling corner markets and the like. Most Eastoners – and for that matter most Wastoners – wouldn’t go into Catalina for anything.

Cypress Grove Park

This lovely green park, featuring small fish ponds and cypress trees, was refurbished in the 1970s. Since then limited funds have been available for its upkeep, and several of the facilities are showing signs of wear. The park has an exaggerated (but not undeserved) reputation for being a crime problem – several street gangs find the quiet groves convenient for drug sales, and pimps and prostitutes likewise ply their trades here at night.

Far Weston

A largely middle-class residential area, Far Weston has little neighborhood identity of its own. Instead it’s a collection of mini-neighborhoods a block or two wide, made up mostly of apartment buildings. There are more chain stores here than in most parts of the city thanks to the absence of community groups committed to keeping a particular “look” to the area. Weston Plaza, a sort of park and open-air entertainment venue, is the most notable feature in the area; concerts, art shows, festivals, an political gatherings are regularly held there.

Hollings Hill

Hollings Hill is what passes for an “upper class” section of Weston. In addition to townhouses and nice apartment complexes, it has plenty of detached housing and well-maintained green lawns. It’s also home to the University of Florida Vibora Bay campus; the neighborhoods around the campus itself cater heavily to the student population.

Inner Weston

Inner Weston is the middle-class heart of the western half of the city. Originally the home of freed slaves and Creoles, it’s primarily made up of brick row houses and tall white apartment buildings featuring Viboran art deco statues and storefront businesses. The neighborhood includes several small pockets of other ethnicities, including Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean, and is well known for its restaurants.

The Jumble

This Jumble consists of approximately five square blocks that are home to a large number of Haitian immigrant families and other recent émigrés from the Caribbean. It is the location of the Pierre Street Community Center and Sister Rain’s hounfront. Compared to many neighborhoods in Weston, it’s relatively peaceful and safe, but nowhere near as crime-free as a corresponding Easton Neighborhood.

Midtown

Midtown is the “hipper’ business side of High Street. It includes the offices of several radio and TV stations, and the clubs and nightclubs of MacKenzie Square (named after John MacKenzie, a general who heroically served under Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans).

Weston Shore

This area is a “working pier”, as opposed to the more tourism-oriented piers and wharves in the center of the city’s shoreline. It’s mainly devoted to commercial fishing, with some shipping done here as well. The Weston Shore Fish Market is a center of activity every morning, as the freshest catches are sold to the city’s dozens of seafood restaurants and markets. North of the shoreline for about a mile are some excellent seafood restaurants (including the famed Blue Marlin Grill) and lots of warehousing and manufacturing plants, interspersed with blue-collar bars. The historical Mission San Paolo Church is also located in this neighborhood just a few blocks from the shore.

Union Station

Originally the center of local train traffic and the connection to the rest of Florida’s train lines in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Union Station was once the thriving cultural center of Vibora Bay. In the last thirty years, however, the closing of most of the railways has cost the area a great deal of its luster. The train yard remains, and still function, but they no longer attract the commerce they once did, giving the whole neighborhood a sort of rundown, not-living-up-to-its-potential kind of feel.

Union Station was once home to several famous old clubs and bars. A few of them still exist, but others have converted into modern theaters or strip joints, or been turned into warehouses. Most adults looking for a pleasant night out on the town don’t think “let’s go to Union Station”.

If it weren’t so far into Weston, Union Station would be a prime target for gentrification, or at least renewal. However, its proximity to Route 30A offers some hope in this regard. Over the past decade, some young artists and families have oved into the neighborhood to take advantages of cheap rent. They’ve restored a little “hipness” to the area. New music and clothing stores, art galleries, and even a couple independent rap record labels have opened here recently.

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