Downtown History

  • Timucua Empire

    Timucua Empire

    Downtown Jacksonville was first established as a village called Ossachite (Os-sa-chi-te) by the Saturiwa Chiefdom of the Mocama people, a Timucuan subtribe. Part of a vast 50,000 kilometer Timucuan kingdom with some 25-30 chiefdoms and a population upwards of 200,000 throughout North and Central Florida as well as Southeast Georgia, “Wacca Pilatka” (Timucuan for “cow’s crossing”) was already well-known and inhabited by the time Europeans arrived.

  • Meeting the Natives

    Meeting the Natives

    Juan Ponce de León lands on “La Florida’s” northeast coast in 1513, naming it for the Spanish celebration of “Pascua Florida” (Feast of the Flowers), Spain’s Eastertime celebration, due to his arrival in the month of April. Shortly thereafter, the first Europeans to visit the Downtown Jacksonville area would have been Spanish expeditions to map the land and convert the indigenous peoples of New Spain.

  • Fellow Europeans

    Fellow Europeans

    Captain Jean Ribault, a French Naval Officer seeking freedom from religious persecution, as well as 150 other French Huguenots, explore the mouth of the “River Mai” (declared “River May” by Ribault due to his arrival in that month, now known as the St. Johns River) on their way up the Atlantic coast.

  • Tug-Of-War


    “Wacca Pilatka” gets caught in a tug-of-war between French and Spanish colonists fighting for control of the river and its adjoining lands. The Spanish renamed the River May to San Juan River for the mission they establish on the river’s edge: San Juan del Puerto on present-day St. George Island.


  • Spanish Encomienda

    Spanish Encomienda

    Pedro Menendez de Aviles, founder and governor of the La Florida colony whose capital town was St. Augustine, arranged for Franciscan missionary friars to administer to the Timucua. Missions were intended to save the souls of the Indians even while transforming the native people into loyal Catholic subjects of the Spanish crown who could be forced to labor in support of the colony.

  • European Disease

    European Disease

    By 1595, the Timucuan population had shrunk to about 50,000, a 75-percent drop fueled by epidemic diseases introduced from Europe. The number of chiefdoms also had shrunk; only thirteen still existed,” the Mocama being one of them, joined with the Guadalquinis from southern Georgia.

  • Endangered Peoples

    Endangered Peoples

    If the 75-percent population decimation of the sixteenth century prior to the missions seems large, the figure for the seventeenth century is positively horrendous. From 1595 to 1700, the period of the missions, the Timucuan population suffered a 98 percent reduction, from 50,000 people to 1,000.

  • Charles II’s Edict

    Charles II’s Edict

    King Charles II of Spain issued the Edict of 1693 which stated that any male slave on an English plantation who escaped to Spanish Florida would be granted freedom provided he joined the Militia and became a Catholic. This edict became one of the New World’s earliest emancipation proclamations.

  • End of the Timucua

    End of the Timucua

    A 1717 census lists three villages housing a total of only 250 Timucua Indians. By 1726 that number had dropped to 157 Timucua, and two years later it was 70. In 1752, 29 Timucua remained, all living in a single town. A decade later, when Spain withdrew from Florida at the conclusion of the Seven Years War, there was only one Timucuan Indian still alive to accompany the Spaniards to Cuba.

  • British Rule in Cowford

    British Rule in Cowford

    Beginning this year and for at least a decade, Ancient Indian trails are widened by the British to become the King’s Road; running from Savannah to New Smyrna, it meets the St. Johns River at the Cowford – a narrowing of the St. Johns River, a logical place to cross at the foot of today’s downtown Liberty Street.

  • Revolution


    At the start of the American Revolution in 1776, East Florida and West Florida were the only two southern colonies that remained loyal to King George III. This was a problem for the British, as the southern colonies in North America supplied food, clothing, and other supplies to their sugar plantations in the Caribbean. The Floridas were located right between the British sugar plantations in the Caribbean, and the northern colonial revolt.

  • Thomas Creek

    Thomas Creek

    “Only one Revolutionary War battle occurred in Florida, and it took place in what became Duval County (Jacksonville). The Battle of Thomas Creek was fought in the vicinity of the Nassau River bridge. It proved to be Florida’s only real battle during the Revolution, although there were some other raids & skirmishes. Thomas Creek was also the southernmost battle of the Revolutionary War.”

  • Spain Reclaims Florida

    Spain Reclaims Florida

    During a series of battles from 1779 to 1781, Spain was able to recapture West Florida from the British. When the American Revolution ended in 1783, England returned East Florida to the Spanish to keep control of Gibraltar.

    The English refused to pose for this portrait commemorating the Peace of Paris in 1783, so it was never completed.

  • Fort San Nicolas

    Fort San Nicolas

    “Over 200 years ago, a small Spanish stronghold, Fort St. Nicholas, was situated just west of the athletic field of present-day Bishop Kenny High School. Throughout its history, the stronghold served the Spanish authorities in various ways: the defense of the Cowford (Jacksonville) crossing; the protection of settlers & missionaries from Indians; the preservation of Spanish interests in Florida against the British & Americans; and the prevention of smugglers from using the St. Johns River.”

  • Cowford’s First European Settler

    Cowford’s First European Settler

    When the British returned Florida to the Spanish following the American Civil War and the Peace of Paris, “Robert Pritchard was the first American settler on the future site of Downtown Jacksonville, having received a 450-acre grant in 1791. But Pritchard died within a few years, and what little development he started on the land was abandoned when political disturbances in 1795 and again in 1811-1812 cleared this site of all settlers.”

  • Development of Southbank

    Development of Southbank

    “William Jones received a land grant in 1793 for 216 acres in the south side of the Cow Ford. He fell out of grace with the Spanish government, however, and within a few years his land was confiscated. In 1797 the land was re-granted to William Hendricks, a ship builder and farmer who lived on Talbot Island. His son Isaac soon moved to this peninsula west of Fort San Nicolas. He built houses and cultivated the land. After the death of his first wife, Isaac Hendricks married Elizabeth Hudnall, the widow of Ezekiel Hudnall, who owned a large tract of land to the east. South of the Hendricks plantation was a tract owned by Albert G. Philips, near Point La Vista. Philips married Isaac Hendricks’ daughter Margaret. Thus, by 1850 three of the largest land holdings on the south bank of the river were linked by marriage.”

  • East Florida Rebellion

    East Florida Rebellion

    A rebel gang of Anglo settlers, wanted for attacking and burning Spanish outpost Fort Juana on the Trout River, “made their way along the bank of the river towards their main target, the Spanish battery of San Nicolas. At 3 AM one of the gang who spoke Spanish approached Commander Ignacio Lopez at the gate with a false announcement that the men were militia reinforcements arriving to strengthen the battery. A brief exchange of fire took place that resulted in the immediate deaths of two Spanish guards. A third soldier later died from his wounds. The battery was quickly overrun and Lieutenant Lopez and twenty-eight members of the Catalan Light Infantry Company were captured. Anchored in the St. Johns River in front of the battery was the royal gunboat, the San Simon, captained by Manuel Otero, who had twelve men under his command. It was positioned, under Howard’s orders, to prevent the rebels crossing the river from the Cowford. Because the rebels captured the battery by marching south along the riverbank they were able to elude the guns of the San Simon. A lack of communication between the gunboat and the battery meant that Otero and his crew were unaware of what was happening until the rebels were actually in control of the fortification. When he realized this, Otero ordered his crew to fire on the battery. The rebels fired back. Knowing that the defenses of San Nicolas were far superior to those of the San Simon, Otero ordered the crew to cease fire and cut the hawser in an attempt to escape. However, the current carried the gunboat toward the riverbank where it ran aground. Otero made repeated efforts to push it back into deeper water but was unable to do so. Accepting that the boat was defenseless and that further resistance placed the lives of his crew in danger, Otero had no choice but to surrender to the rebels. For the next two days the rebels based themselves at San Nicolas and terrorized settlers along the river.”

  • LaVilla Land Grant

    LaVilla Land Grant

    “John Jones receives a Spanish land grant of 350 acres defined as a triangular tract-stretching north from the mouth of McCoy’s Creek. This parcel was surrendered to Isaac Hendricks by the governor of Spanish East Florida in 1804, and confirmed by the land commissioners, in 1819.”

  • The Patriot War

    The Patriot War

    “One of the most overlooked events in early nineteenth century Florida history is the so-called “Patriot War” fought from 1812 to 1814. Frontiersmen from both sides of the tense Florida-Georgia border attempted by force of arms to seize Spanish East Florida and join it to the United States with little delay.”

  • Creek War

    Creek War

    Also known as the “Red Stick War” and “Creek Civil War,” the Creek War was fought between various disagreeing Creek Indian factions, the British, and the United States in the wake of the War of 1812. Britain was blocking U.S. trade ships from accessing other European countries during the Napoleonic Wars, and pressing merchant sailors into British Navy service, in addition to arming and supplying the Red Stick Creek Indians, who were frustrated and angry with the United States’ expansionist policies.

  • Hogan[s] & LeMaestre

    Hogan[s] & LeMaestre

    “Maria Taylor was granted 200 acres of Spanish land grantee Robert Pritchard’s land in 1816. She married Lewis Zachariah Hogan[s], and they built a log cabin near what is now the corner of Hogan and Forsyth streets, now the location of a FedEx Office. East of the line formed by the present Market Street, Juan LeMaestre also received a grant in 1816. He built a home here, but then sold his land to John Brady in 1820. These two tracts of land form most of Downtown today.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Cowford becomes Jacksonville

    Cowford becomes Jacksonville

    Spain sells the Florida Territory to the U.S. after continuing raids by American Patriots and several local uprisings they are unable to control due to lack of governance. Cowford is renamed “Jacksonville” by Isaiah D. Hart, who proposed the renaming in a town charter to honor the newly appointed American military governor of the new territory, Major General Andrew Jackson, the future 7th President of the United States.

  • Beginning of a City

    Beginning of a City

    “The city of Jacksonville began at a tree on the river bank at the foot of what is now Market Street. That’s where David Solomon Hill Miller — captain of the rural militia of the St. Johns River, District of San Nicolas, husband of Spanish land-grant holder Anna Hogans Bagley, and deputy surveyor — started platting the streets for a town at the northern bank of the cow ford. Assisting Miller were Francis Ross, Benjamin Chaires (the city’s first judge who had also helped in laying out Georgia’s first capitals, Louisville and Milledgeville) and John Bellamy.”

  • Jacksonville’s First Mayor

    Jacksonville’s First Mayor

    Under the same town charter that renamed Cowford to Jacksonville and included provisions for establishing roads and a courthouse, William J. Mills was named the first Mayor of Jacksonville. Not much is known about Mayor Mills due to the Great Fire of 1901 destroying all city records in the courthouse.

  • Second Seminole War Blockhouse

    Second Seminole War Blockhouse

    “The founder of Jacksonville, Isaiah Hart, was the man behind the fortification’s construction. During the Second Seminole War, Hart led the movement to build the blockhouse (a fort made of squared timbers with a projecting upper story), the little fort was probably finished in 1836. The blockhouse stood at the northeast corner of Ocean & Monroe streets. It was to give a place of refuge if Seminoles raided Jacksonville. It also served as a storehouse for arms & ammo.”

  • Florida Becomes a State

    Florida Becomes a State

    “After centuries of Spanish rule, 20 years of British control, and almost 25 years as a U.S. territory, Florida was finally voted in as a state. Floridians had voted in a referendum in favor of statehood in 1838 and a state constitution was approved in 1839, but it was not until the U.S. Congress approved the act in 1845 that it became official.”

  • The Great Gale

    The Great Gale

    “Known by several names—the Great Havana Hurricane, the Havana Gale or, in Jacksonville history, called the Great Gale, the October 1846 category 5 hurricane was massive in size and strength. Winds pushed St. Johns River water into the town’s core, flooding the business district and the interior of Bay Street businesses. The flood waters then advanced an additional block north reaching across Forsyth Street. Wind and water destroyed wharves and wrecked structures in the tiny town. The sizeable vessel, the Virginia, anchored in the St. Johns, was relocated by the gale, dragging anchor and all, to a surreal lopsided perch spanning the equivalent of two city blocks.”

  • City Park

    City Park

    Isaiah Hart establishes just over two acres of land for use as a public square. After his death, his descendents deeded the parcel to the city for $10 in 1866, when it was officially named “City Park.” It would later be named “St. James Park” for the St. James Hotel.

  • Telegraph


    “In 1859, the first telegraph line from Jacksonville was built to Baldwin, where it connected with a line to the North, just one year after the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid between Europe and the United States.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Rail Travel

    Rail Travel

    “David Levy Yulee built the first cross-state railroad, which opened as the Florida Railway & Navigation Company’s line from Fernandina to Cedar Key. In that same year, the Florida, Atlantic & Gulf Central Railroad opened from Jacksonville to Alligator (Lake City).”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • The Confederacy

    The Confederacy

    “The War Between the States was on, and, for Jacksonville citizens, business activity with the North ceased. The flags of Spain, France, England, and the United States had flown over the city, and now the flag of the Confederacy waved high over the docks of the St. Johns. Not all locals were as devoted to the Southern purpose, nearly a third of the city populace were passionate Union supporters. The strain of war rippled through families and the streets of the town.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Jacksonville Razed

    Jacksonville Razed

    “The city was occupied by Union troops on four major occasions during the war. With each, the town took a bleaker air. As Federal troops pulled out of Jacksonville in March, 1863 after a third occupation, a New York Tribune reporter watching from a nearby ship later reported that ‘as far as the eye can reach, through these once pleasant streets, nothing but sheets of flame can be seen … The whole city is being lapped up and consumed by this fiery blast.’ By the end of the war in 1865, Jacksonville lay in ruins.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Fort Hatch

    Fort Hatch

    “In 1864, determined to prevent the city from once again falling into Confederate hands, the Union Army encircled it with temporary fortifications, called breastworks. Maps and archaeological testing showed this site was the location of Fort Hatch, which housed one of nine gun batteries built to protect the city. The chest-high fortifications contained barracks, mess halls, medical facilities, and parade grounds. Fort Hatch was named in honor of General John P. Hatch (1822 – 1901), who commanded various Union operations in the South.”

  • Hemming Park

    Hemming Park

    “Union troops camped on land owned and set aside as Jacksonville’s public square by city founder Isaiah Hart. Following the war and Hart’s death, his family gave the land for use as a city park in a $10 exchange. In 1898, Charles Hemming, who had been a private in the Confederate Army, donated the park’s Confederate Statue. In short order, Jacksonville’s lawmakers renamed the park for Hemming in gratitude for the gift.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Edward Waters College

    Edward Waters College

    “Edward Waters College began as an institution founded by blacks, for blacks. In 1865, following the Civil War, the Reverend Charles H. Pearce was sent to Florida by Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne. Observing the fast-paced social and political changes of the Reconstruction era, Rev. Pearce immediately recognized the need for an education ministry, as no provision had yet been made for the public education of Florida’s newly emancipated blacks. Assisted by the Reverend William G. Steward, the first AME pastor in the state, Pearce began to raise funds to build a school.”

  • LaVilla Becomes a Town

    LaVilla Becomes a Town

    “Francis F. L’Engle purchases and subdivides land in the area, forming the Town of LaVilla. L’Engle becomes LaVilla’s first mayor.” “LaVilla became home to many free blacks and ex-slaves, attracted to jobs and housing opportunities. As the neighborhood developed, Jewish and Italian immigrants populated the neighborhood along with other ethnic groups, creating one of the most interesting communities in the city.”

  • First Black School

    First Black School

    “Immediately after Emancipation, a group of colored people in the City of Jacksonville organized themselves into the Education Society, and on February 8, 1868, purchased the property on which the Stanton School building now stands from Ossian B. Hart and his wife. The school was named in honor of General Edwin McMasters Stanton, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War. He was an ardent champion of human rights and an advocate of free formal education for Negro boys and girls. It was the first school of education for black children in Jacksonville and its surrounding counties, and was the first school for black children in the State of Florida.”

  • St. James Hotel

    St. James Hotel

    Construction began on the St. James Hotel within three years after the Civil War. Numerous additions to the building during the next 20 years expanded it to occupy the entire block, making it the largest in Jacksonville. The St. James’ guest register included the names of presidents and European royalty. The large dining room could serve over 150 guests at one time.

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Snyder Memorial Methodist Church

    Snyder Memorial Methodist Church

    “Originally known as Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, the Snyder Memorial Methodist congregation was founded in 1870. Following the destruction of its church during the 1901 Fire, plans were immediately made to erect another building on the same site. Upon its completion, the church was renamed Snyder Memorial, in honor of the former pastor E. B. Snyder, whose children had donated generously toward the rebuilding effort. This Gothic Revival edifice was built of “granite rubble trimmed with Indiana limestone.” This church is a fine tribute to the craftsmen who came to rebuild Jacksonville after the big fire.

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • First Black Lawyer

    First Black Lawyer

    “The first African American lawyer in Florida, Joseph E. Lee was elected to the Florida Legislature where he served for six years before being elected to the senate. He was later appointed as a municipal judge, Custom Collector of the Port of St. Johns, and Collector of Internal Revenue.”

  • The Nichols House

    The Nichols House

    “This three-story brick hotel was constructed in 1875 on the northwest corner of Hogan and Forsyth. It was later renamed Hotel Duval and was destroyed by fire in 1892. A new Hotel Duval was built on this site the following year. The site is also significant as the location of the first permanent home in what is now Downtown Jacksonville, a log cabin built for Lewis Z. Hogan[s] in 1816.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Windsor Hotel

    Windsor Hotel

    “The original Windsor Hotel was built in 1875 and was doubled in size over the next 20 years of occupy nearly the entire block of Hogan, Monroe, Julia, and Duval streets. When the tourist season was over, the hotel and St. James Park (Hemming Park) were gathering places for many Jacksonville area residents.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Union Congregational Church

    Union Congregational Church

    “Arlington Congregational Church was founded by a small group of people who gathered together and began planning in 1875. The first church building was a small one-room wooden structure located on the corner of Church and Hogan Streets in downtown Jacksonville, called Union Congregational Church. It was dedicated on January 9, 1876.”

  • Old St. Luke’s Hospital

    Old St. Luke’s Hospital

    “During the 1870s thousands of tourists poured into Jacksonville. Many were invalids hoping that our city’s balmy winter weather would restore their health. There was no facility to care for the numerous poor and sick people who arrived daily by train and boat. In 1872 the deaths of several indigents aroused Myra Mitchell, Susan Hartridge, and Anna Doggett, to establish a public facility to tend the sick. Within three months they had raised enough money to open the first St. Luke’s Hospital, a small, temporary building on the banks of Hogan’s Creek.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Old Brewster Hospital

    Old Brewster Hospital

    “Built in 1885 as a private residence, Old Brewster Hospital and Nursing Training School was the first medical facility to serve Jacksonville’s African-American community. Located in the LaVilla neighborhood, the hospital opened in 1901 through the efforts of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2005, the Old Brewster Hospital building was moved to its present location from its original site at 915 West Monroe Street.”[1466]/1/

  • St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

    “This towering Gothic Revival church is the largest pre-1901 house of worship in Jacksonville. When it was constructed in 1887, its architect, Robert S. Schuyler, had already established himself as an experienced designer of Episcopal churches.” Old St. Andrews is currently operated by the Jacksonville Historical Society and plays host to many private events Downtown.

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission


  • Incorporation of LaVilla

    Incorporation of LaVilla

    “Ashley Street was LaVilla’s central thoroughfare. It was the first street in any of Jacksonville’s African-American neighborhoods to be paved, and was the dynamic core of black LaVilla’s social and cultural life. African-American brass bands played a prominent part in the life of the growing city.”

    A Cultural History of the First Jazz and Blues Communities in Jacksonville, Florida, 1896-1916:
    A Contribution of African Americans to American Theatre
    Peter Dunbaugh Smith

  • “Sub-Tropical Exposition”

    “Sub-Tropical Exposition”

    In response to declining tourism due to the expansion of railroads west to California and south to St. Augustine, the city embarked on a project to reinvigorate tourism: “The opening of the Exposition was considered the most elaborate undertaking of its kind in the state’s history. It was an event of such importance, President Grover Cleveland, his youthful bride, and a delegation of congressmen scheduled a trip.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Yellow Fever Epidemic

    Yellow Fever Epidemic

    “It was a terrible way to die: chills, followed by fever, then internal bleeding, and finally the black-bloody vomit that made neighbors flee and states post armed guards at their borders to keep the sick away. Yellow fever. Yellow Jack. These were names for the disease that struck Jacksonville with such force in 1888 that the New York Times’ front page reported it was ”every one for himself.” Yellow Jack hit its victims indiscriminately and unpredictably. Some contracted just a touch of fever. Others suffered from an agonizing array of symptoms that left about 400 dead and more than 4,700 sick – about one-third of the estimated 14,000 people who did not flee Jacksonville in terror.”

  • State Board of Health

    State Board of Health

    “Established as a result of the tragic Yellow Fever Epidemic that struck Jacksonville the previous year. The Board erected its permanent headquarters on Julia Street. The land, then known as Raspberry Park and formerly used for a city jail, was deeded by the City of Jacksonville to the State as an inducement for the Board of Health to locate there.

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition) Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Jeseph H. Blodgett

    Jeseph H. Blodgett

    “Blodgett reportedly came to bustling Jacksonville with only one dollar and ten cents in his pocket. By 1898, he had built numerous houses and businesses, but lost most of his buildings in the Great Fire of May 3, 1901. By 1919, Blodgett had constructed another two hundred and fifty-eight houses. One of the more noted buildings designed and constructed by Blodgett was the 1915 Lawton L. Pratt (now Hillman-Pratt & Walton) Funeral Home at 525 West Beaver Street in the LaVilla section of Downtown Jacksonville.”

  • Jacksonville Streetcars

    Jacksonville Streetcars

    “The streetcar to Springfield ran right down the middle of a landscaped Main Street. The original line ran to 8th Street, which was then considered ‘way out.’ Mules pulled the city’s first streetcars, but free-wheeling buses gradually muscled out the trolleys, which made their final run in December 1936.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Cigar Capitol

    Cigar Capitol

    “Late 19th century cigar makers found Jacksonville an attractive location to process Havana tobacco. At the time, Jacksonville was the terminus of six railroads, home to a 24’ deep river channel, and considered the gateway to Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba. By 1895, the city had become home to 15 cigar manufacturing companies and thousands of Cuban immigrants. It’s largest, Gabriel Hidalgo-Gato’s El Modelo Cigar Manufacturing Company, employed 225 and produced 6 million stogies annually.”

  • Jacksonville Women’s Club

    Jacksonville Women’s Club

    “Founded in 1897, it was not until 1902 that the group was able to purchase a site on which to build a permanent clubhouse. Erected in 1903, the clubhouse was built of Florida brick with a stucco finished front and originally had a tile roof. The second-story window configuration and broad overhanging roof show the influence of the Prairie style of architecture, its earliest appearance in Jacksonville. The flared hips of the main roofline and of the two dormers suggest an Oriental flavor. This building served as the woman’s Cub until 1927, when a new structure was erected in Riverside.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • War Provost Headquarters and Jail

    War Provost Headquarters and Jail

    “The Seventh Army Corps was made up of nearly 30,000 U.S. soldiers from all parts of the country, who moved into Jacksonville in 1898 in preparation for the invasion of Cuba during the Spanish-American War. They lived in large encampments in Springfield, Panama Park, and Fairfield, which collectively were known as ‘Camp Cuba Libre.’ Although it may at first seem surprising that the military police headquarters and jail were located over two miles from where the soldiers were camped, it should be remembered that La Villa was “where the action was.” The Bay Street bars, the Houston Street brothels, and the train station were all within a few blocks of this building.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Lift Every Voice And Sing

    Lift Every Voice And Sing

    “It was on February 12, 1900, at the segregated Edwin M. Stanton School, that preparations were made to commemorate the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln and for a visit from the well-known Negro leader, Booker T. Washington. The principal for the 500-student school was James Weldon Johnson. Sensing the significance of the day and the guest speaker, Principal Johnson put his poetic skills to work and crafted a poem fitting the occasion.”

  • First African-American Insurance Company

    First African-American Insurance Company

    “The Afro-American Insurance Company, formerly the Afro-American Industrial and Benefits Association, was founded in 1901 to provide affordable health insurance and death benefits to the state’s African-Americans.”

  • The Great Fire

    The Great Fire

    “During the raging eight-hour march, the inferno cut a path through the city nearly two miles west to east and one mile north to south, destroying 466 acres, leveling 2,368 buildings and homes, and miraculously leaving only seven dead. In eight hours, 146 city blocks were gone, along with every public building but the U.S. Post Office. The fire’s black clouds were seen in North Carolina. The glow in the sky was seen in Savanna and Miami. The city would smolder for days.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Greenleaf & Crosby Clock

    Greenleaf & Crosby Clock

    During August of 1901, the City Council passed an ordinance that allowed the Greenleaf & Crosby Company to erect this street clock in front of their new jewelry store at 41 West Bay Street. The clock was estimated to cost $1,200 and was said to “be the handsomest of its kind on the South, and it will compare favorably with any of the large public clocks in northern or western cities.” The clock was moved in 1927 to the corner of Laura and Adams Streets and still stands.

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • First Baptist Church

    First Baptist Church

    “This church is a direct descendent of the first Baptist congregation which established itself in Jacksonville in 1838. Its members occupied several buildings prior to the construction of this sanctuary in 1903, with the building previous to this one having been destroyed in the 1901 Fire.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Jacksonville Free Public Library

    Jacksonville Free Public Library

    “Between 1901 and 1919, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie helped to finance over 2,800 public libraries in the United States. In 1902, Mr. Carnegie offered $50,000 to Jacksonville to build a library, and in a citywide referendum on November 4, 1902, voters narrowly approved accepting the money, 640 to 625. In 1903 a design competition was held and architect H. J. Klutho’s Neo-Classic Revival design was the winner. It served as Jacksonville’s main library until 1965.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Dixieland Park

    Dixieland Park

    “Billing itself as “The Coney Island of the South,” Dixieland Park opened in 1907. Featuring Alligator Joe Campbell, ostrich races, electric fountains, burros, bands and theater productions, the sprawling complex drew hordes of tourists & locals, many of whom took the ferry from the end of Main Street over to Dixieland. The theme park and ostrich farm sprawled over 30 acres of riverfront property on the Southbank, in the vicinity of today’s DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.”

  • Old Y.M.C.A. Building

    Old Y.M.C.A. Building

    “The first Jacksonville Young Men’s Christian Association was founded in 1870. Thirty-seven years later its members commissioned H. J. Klutho to design its headquarters. This seven-story structure marked the beginning of his commitment to an architectural movement pioneered in the Midwestern United States by such architects as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. This architectural movement later became known as ‘The Prairie School.’ The building was Florida’s first large reinforced-concrete frame structure and an engineering feat over the times.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • St. James Rebuilt

    St. James Rebuilt

    “When it was completed on October 21, 1912, the St. James Building was the magnum opus of Jacksonville architecture and of the architect Henry John Klutho. Prior to the 1901 Fire, this site was occupied by the St. James Hotel, one of Jacksonville’s grandest hotels during the tourist boom of the 1870s and 1880s. After the St. James Hotel’s destruction by the Fire, the owners of the rebuilt Windsor Hotel (the site later occupied by Penney’s and Woolworth’s stores) purchased the vacant lot to prevent another rival hotel from being built there. Jacob and Morris Cohen, owners of Cohen Brothers’ store, purchased the lot in February, 1910, with the stipulation that they could not construct a hotel on the site.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Jacksonville Rotary Club

    Jacksonville Rotary Club

    “With only 40 Rotary clubs in the nation, and only New Orleans in the south, in 1912 the Chicago club sent a prominent member to Jacksonville to assist in organizing a new club. On February 13, 1912, at the Windsor Hotel downtown at Hemming Park, 14 businessmen met and officially organized. Members gathered for lunch weekly at the Windsor Hotel and later at the Aragon Hotel.”

  • Masonic Temple

    Masonic Temple

    “Since its founding in 1870, the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida and Jurisdiction, Inc., has served as the Masonic organization for black members in Jacksonville. Within a year after the 1901 Fire, members of the lodge began formulating plans to construct a Masonic temple. In light of the rigid segregation laws of that period, which inhibited opportunities for black citizens, the concept for the building was a bold one. It was a monumental achievement for local blacks, in addition to being a major work of architecture.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Old Duval County Armory

    Old Duval County Armory

    “Completed in 1916 using bonds issued for $150,000. The Gothic-Revival style armory had a fortress-like appearance, with its large towers and arched entrance. The Armory was the headquarters for the National Guard officers of Northeast Florida. It housed the state’s largest military drill hall with a stage and balcony, often doubling as an auditorium. In the basement of the building were a kitchen, dining hall, swimming pool, bowling alley, and firing range where troops could hone their shooting skills.”

  • Jacksonville Terminal

    Jacksonville Terminal

    “When completed in 1919, the Jacksonville Terminal was the largest railroad station in the South. During its heyday, the terminal handled as many as 142 trains and 20,000 passengers a day. The interior features a 75-foot barrel vaulted ceiling above the main waiting room, giving a tremendous sense of space to the traveler. Streetcars connected the terminal with the rest of the city.” Today, the terminal is part of the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.

  • The Hogan Building

    The Hogan Building

    “Originally called the Akers-Cody Building, this structure was designed by E.R. Merry Architect and constructed by Griffin Construction Company in 1921. The original facade appeared to be Prairie School. The building would become the long-time downtown location of Rosenblums.”

  • St. Johns River Bridge

    St. Johns River Bridge

    “Ten years after South Jacksonville’s incorporation, its population had increased tenfold. It was time to build a bridge. Begun in 1919, the St. Johns River Bridge was completed on July 1, 1921, and South Jacksonville’s accessibility created a burst of new development. Sections of the original Hendricks Plantation and Villa Alexandria were transformed into modern subdivisions, including San Marco, South Shores, Alexandria Place, and River Oaks. The Colonial Manor and South Riverside subdivisions were carved out of the Red Bank Plantation.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • South Jacksonville School

    South Jacksonville School

    “Originally erected in 1922, South Jacksonville School originally included grades 1-9. At the time, it was the only school on the south side serving African-American students. Mr. Douglas Anderson, for whom the school was later named, was born on March 7, 1884 in Jacksonville. Mr. Douglas Anderson, along with Mr. W. R. Thorpe, played an active role in spearheading the allocation of the present school site and construction of the original school buildings. For many years, he operated the only bus service for black students in Duval County.

  • Ford Motor Company

    Ford Motor Company

    “In 1923, Ford purchased the former Bentley Shipyards property from the city of Jacksonville for $50,000. The company began construction of the facility on January 23, 1924, completing the 115,200-square-foot, $2 million complex on August 29 of that same year. The plant was immediately recognized as one of Ford’s leading facilities for the production of the Model T, which it began building on November 26, 1924.”

  • The Carling Hotel

    The Carling Hotel

    “When this thirteen-story hotel building opened on September 1, 1926, it was known as the Carling Hotel. It was owned by the Dinkler Hotel Co. of Atlanta and was named after Carling L. Dinkler who, at age 31, was vice president of the hotel chain and claimed to be the youngest hotel executive in the U.S. Newspaper articles in 1926 described the hotel as having ‘300 rooms with bath, running ice water, fans and the latest equipment in the rooms.’”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • The Florida Theatre

    The Florida Theatre

    “The fifteenth movie house in Jacksonville and undoubtedly the most lavish, The Florida Theatre was part of the short-lived American phenomenon of fantasy-inspired movie palaces that began with New York’s opulent Regent Theatre in 1913. Theatre-goers were dazzled by the lavish interior, the theme of which was a Moorish courtyard at night. Fountains, dramatic balconies, coffered ceilings and a grand proscenium arch were embellished with polychromatic sculpted ornamentation.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • First Football Stadium

    First Football Stadium

    “Jacksonville’s first football venue was built with a seating capacity of 7,600. Known as Fairfield Stadium, its primary purpose was to serve as home field for Jacksonville’s three new high schools — Lee, Jackson, and Landon. The stadium was rebuilt and renamed Gator Bowl and has hosted an annual post-season college football game of the same name since 1946.”

  • Jacksonville Historical Society

    Jacksonville Historical Society

    “In the spring of 1929, a small group of Jacksonville citizens met to discuss the organization of a local historical society. In order to stimulate interest, invitations were sent to several hundred Jacksonville residents thought by the group promoting the plan to be interested in local history, inviting them to become charter members of the organization. These invitations stated that the name of the organization would be The Jacksonville Historical Society, and that the first meeting would be held in the Carling (later the Roosevelt) Hotel on May 3, 1929, at 8:30 p.m.”

  • Western Union Telegraph Company

    Western Union Telegraph Company

    “At midnight on July 20, 1931, a switch was thrown transferring all of the operations of the Western Union Telegraph Company from its old building at Bay and Laura Streets, where it had been located since 1895, to this newly completed structure.” This building still stands on the Corner of Laura and Duval Streets, and is the location of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • First Gator Bowl

    First Gator Bowl

    “Businessman Charles Hilty is credited with conceiving the Gator Bowl. A group of four, including Hilty, put up $10,000 to finance the first Gator Bowl in 1946. Two years later, despite the fact that neither of the first two Gator Bowls sold out, the stadium was expanded and renamed “Gator Bowl Stadium.” The next year, in 1949, the bowl’s future was secured, when 32,939 fans watched Clemson beat Missouri 24-23 on a late field goal from Jack Miller.

  • Jacksonville Urban League

    Jacksonville Urban League

    “In 1946, a group of prominent black and white citizens, concerned with the challenges Jacksonville’s African Americans faced, met to discuss establishing an organization dedicated to responding to those needs. From the outset, the Jacksonville Urban League has promoted equality of opportunity through the Three “E” strategy: Education, Employment and Training and Economic Empowerment. While focusing on African Americans, JUL has kept these programs open to all Jacksonville residents regardless of their race or creed.”

  • First Television Station

    First Television Station

    “Glenn Marshall, who owned WMBR, a Jacksonville radio station, decided to launch Jacksonville’s first TV station, WMBR TV-4 (now WXJT News4Jax). It was the only TV station in the southeast between Greensboro, N.C., and Miami. On Jan. 1, 1950, WMBR-TV televised the Gator Bowl game for the first time. Only locals saw Clemson’s 23-23 win over Missouri because there was no network relay connection for Channel 4 to share the game.”

  • Ax Handle Saturday

    Ax Handle Saturday

    “A peaceful protest by NAACP youth trying to get served at Downtown lunch counters erupted into violence as a mob wielding bats and ax handles attacked demonstrators. Victims were bloodied in the melee and the protestors were offered refuge in the all-white Snyder Memorial Methodist Church.”

    Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage:
    Landmarks for the Future (Revised Edition)
    Jacksonville Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Civic Auditorium

    Civic Auditorium

    “This beautiful auditorium opened Sept. 18, 1962, opening the doors for boat shows, concerts, and conventions. The Main Auditorium seats 3,200, Little Theatre seats 609, built at a cost of over 7 million dollars.” It was renovated as part of the “River City Renaissance” in 1993.

  • Hotel Roosevelt Fire

    Hotel Roosevelt Fire

    “A festive Gator Bowl weekend ended in horror on December 30, 1963, when 22 died in a rapidly spreading fire at the 300-room Roosevelt Hotel. Helicopters plucked eight people from atop the hotel; other guests tried to escape using knotted sheets. Jacksonville’s deadliest fire was thought to have started in a ballroom and apparently burned for hours before being detected about 7:45 a.m.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Hurricane Dora

    Hurricane Dora

    “In weather bureau recorded history, Dora was the city’s first direct hit. It was one of the few hurricanes in modern history to hit the mainland at a nearly perpendicular angle. The seas were ten feet above normal. In downtown Jacksonville, the city’s (then) riverfront parking lots surrealistically appeared as part of the river with the occasional pole or phone booth dotting the water’s surface.”

  • The Beatles Concert

    The Beatles Concert

    “The Beatles performed one concert at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. It was their only performance in the US state. The concert was originally to have been racially segregated, but The Beatles refused to perform until they received an assurance from the promoter that the audience would be mixed. The group had been due to fly to Jacksonville on the morning of 9 September 1964, but their aeroplane was diverted to Key West when Hurricane Dora struck. Most of Jacksonville was left without electricity for several days, but because of hurricane damage 9,000 of the 32,000 ticket holders were unable to get to the venue.

  • Jacksonville Schools Lose Accreditation

    Jacksonville Schools Lose Accreditation

    On November 30, 1964, the New York Times reported: “A committee of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools today decided to withdraw association accreditation of all 15 high schools in Duval County, Fla., on the grounds that the schools were not receiving sufficient tax funds. Jacksonville representatives sought a one year stay to give officials time to find more money. Loss of accreditation makes it more difficult for a school’s graduates to be accepted by colleges.”

  • First Black Women Elected to City Council

    First Black Women Elected to City Council

    “In 1967 Sallye Brooks Mathis and Mary Littlejohn Singleton were elected the first blacks in sixty years, and the first women ever, to the city council of Jacksonville, Florida. These two women had been raised in Jacksonville in a black community which, in spite of racial discrimination and segregation since the Civil War, had demonstrated positive leadership and cooperative action as it developed its own organizations and maintained a thriving civic life.” – Barbara Hunter Walch, “Sallye B. Mathis and Mary L. Singleton: Black Pioneers on the Jacksonville, Florida City Council,”

  • Bold New City of the South

    Bold New City of the South

    “In 1964, Claude Yates was named president of Jacksonville’s Chamber of Commerce. Yates, a former executive at Southern Bell Telephone Company, saw the problems facing the city and called a meeting of around two dozen prominent local business and civic leaders. At that meeting, a brief petition was formed – to be sent to the county’s representatives in the state legislature. Dubbed the Yates Manifesto, it read: ‘We, the undersigned, respectfully request the Duval County Delegation to the Florida Legislature to prepare an enabling act calling for the citizens of Duval County to vote on the consolidation of government within Duval to secure more efficient and effective government under one governmental body.”

  • Foreign Trade Zone

    Foreign Trade Zone

    Since 1972, the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones (NAFTZ) asserted that Customs duties on products manufactured in Free Trade Zones should not be assessed on U.S. value-added – that is, value which consists of domestic materials, parts, labor, overhead, or profit. On April 12, 1980, the U.S. Customs Service issued a formal ruling that agreed with the NAFTZ’s position. At last, the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones program, born in 1934, could be of real utility in attracting and retaining U.S.-based economic activity.

  • Jacksonville Bulls

    Jacksonville Bulls

    “The Bulls are perhaps the best example of what the USFL meant to a community. Without the support shown the Bulls in 1984 and 1985, there would be no such thing as the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bulls led the league in attendance in their inaugural season and were again one of the leaders in 1985. Their crowd of 73,227 on March 4, 1984, against the New Jersey Generals was the best in league history.”

  • Skyway Opens

    Skyway Opens

    “The first 0.7-mile segment of the JTA Skyway, consisting of the Terminal (now Convention Center), Jefferson, and Central stations, opens in June. It is one of five urban peoplemover systems that were built in the U.S. beginning in the 1970s, the other four are in Detroit, MI; Irving, TX; Miami, FL; and Morgantown, WV.”

  • River City Renaissance

    River City Renaissance

    Mayor Ed Austin, in an attempt to “revitalize the city’s urban core, which had been in decline for years,” demolishes 50 square blocks in the La Villa and Brooklyn neighborhoods of Downtown Jacksonville. The Times-Union Center for Performing Arts and the St. James Building adjacent to Hemming Park were renovated and reworked as part of this project, as well.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars

    Jacksonville Jaguars

    “In 1993, the National Football League awarded underdog Jacksonville its 30th franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seven years later, the league would bestow the city with the largest sports plum in the works: the 2005 Super Bowl, with its television audience of 800 million and a $350 million economic impact.”

    The Jacksonville Family Album:
    150 Years of the Art of Photography
    Wayne W. Wood

  • Municipal Stadium

    Municipal Stadium

    “As soon as the January 1, 1994 Gator Bowl game ended, demolition began on the old stadium to clear the way for a facility up to NFL standards that would be the home field for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Construction took under 20 months and cost $134 million, $60 million of which was provided by the City of Jacksonville. Jacksonville Municipal Stadium was completed in August 1995 in time for the Jaguars’ inaugural first home game.”

  • Better Jacksonville Plan

    Better Jacksonville Plan

    “The BJP, approved by voters in 2000, is a $2.25 billion comprehensive growth management program that provides road and infrastructure improvements, environmental preservation, targeted economic development and new and improved public facilities [like the Main Library on Laura Street, at right]. It is funded in part by a half-cent sales tax approved by Duval County voters, which will sunset no later than 2030.”

  • Downtown Vision, Inc. Established

    Downtown Vision, Inc. Established

    At the request of Downtown commercial property owners, Downtown Vision was formed to support communal property owners in the Downtown District. The primary mission of DVI is to make Downtown Jacksonville the place to work, play, and live through our four core programs: the Downtown Ambassadors, Experience Creation, Marketing, and Information Management.


  • Downtown Art Walk

    Downtown Art Walk

    First Wednesday Art Walk is DVI’s monthly street market in Downtown Jacksonville. Dozens of artists, vendors, entertainers, and food stands fill Hemming Park Plaza and line the streets of Downtown to show off their skills, art, and wares. Each month brings new things to do and see, with unique programming like “Salute to Service,” “Spirit of Giving,” “Black Excellence,” and many more. Art Walk is DVI’s premier event showing off how talented, diverse, and fun Downtown Jacksonville is.

  • Inaugural #DTJax Gala

    Inaugural #DTJax Gala

    “The BJP, approved by voters in 2000, is a $2.25 billion comprehensive growth management program that provides road and infrastructure improvements, environmental preservation, targeted economic development and new and improved public facilities [like the Main Library on Laura Street, at right]. It is funded in part by a half-cent sales tax approved by Duval County voters, which will sunset no later than 2030.”