Formerly known as "The Scrub", the area was first settled by freed slaves. Over the years, the neighborhood developed a vibrant business district and became a cultural mecca of sorts for a number of African American musicians, including Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, and Ella Fitzgerald. Band leader Hank Ballard even discovered a dance on Central Avenue; he then wrote and recorded, "The Twist." The area was booming until the shooting of a local African American youth, which resulted in three days of rioting, and the beginnings of a downturn. In 1974, the last of the buildings along Central Avenue, Henry Joyner's Cotton Club, was closed and demolished.
Five years later, in 1979, Perry Harvey, Sr. Park was developed at the request of local youth, looking for a place of their own to recreate near their homes. It was named after Perry Harvey, Sr., who served as the president of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1402 and was a local civil rights leader.
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The Central Park community established itself just north of downtown Tampa, and has played an important part in the history of the City of Tampa.