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Downtown Disappearing Act

Question: What does every structure shaded in yellow have in common?

Published April 11, 2012 in Urban Issues      40 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


Answer: They don't exist anymore!



Downtown's urbanity could rival just about any major American city's, during the 1950s.

 

Downtown in the 1930's.  Finding a surface parking lot during this era was more difficult than playing a game of Where's Waldo

 

In this image, it's easier to point out what's left than to count what has been destroyed over the last few decades.

 

Outside of Jack Diamond's partially completed plan to revitalize LaVilla (eliminate LaVilla - success; turn it into a golf course - failure) during the 1990's, most of the structures highlighted in yellow were torn down in isolated demolitions.  Nevertheless, the final result is a core area that struggles for connectivity no matter how much money taxpayers throw into it.  When will we finally decide to turn the corner?



Published July 26, 2007







40 Comments

Jason

July 26, 2007, 06:18:00 AM
I thought we had a little bit more than that still left.  This image really puts it into perspective.

The saddest part is that is only part of the whole picture....

spidey

July 26, 2007, 07:43:18 AM
It really makes an impact when you see it all in one picture, doesn't it?

fsujax

July 26, 2007, 07:56:22 AM
This is a sad commentary.

Jason

July 26, 2007, 09:07:21 AM
I'd like to see the lots that were simply razed for surface parking.  Some of the losses are understood due to the new towers covering them up but the parking lots are totally uncalled for.

Ocklawaha

July 26, 2007, 11:45:10 AM
Then there are the not so obvious things we could have done... SHOULD HAVE DONE. There was the classic old Acosta Bridge that was promised to be placed in a park after it came down. The center span and towers would have made a classic industrial-historical sculpture over some pond or creek for urbanity. Where did it go? BTW Seminole and Volusia Counties saved the center span of the classic old swing bridge over the St. Johns at Sanford and today, it is the center piece of a nice little river park. Over on the Suwanne, they did the same thing near the Metropolis of Chiefland.



The entire Jacksonville Traction Company, and "The Most Beautiful Streetcar Line In The World", and we couldn't even save ONE ROUTE? Don't think it could have been done? Well your a daisy if you do!

Don't miss those car barns, once called the bus garages in Brooklyn. You know at the site of the Skyway maintenance facility. It was all an honest JTA mistake, they HAD to come down (hell they had tracks in the floor and we couldn't allow that!) because the ramps for the new Acosta bridge were going "Right Through Them!" Oops, guess not, well golly Goober, guess well just have to use that old Trolley space for our Save-All Skyway!




Fairfield, like LaVilla, GONE... Why, well we all need (and I agree) a Sports and entertainment district. Trouble is, Fairfield was the only large historic district that was spared by the fire of 1901. So do you suppose we moved all those old homes out to a newer reconstruction district? Nope! Jacksonville LOVES fireworks, and down they came.

Dixieland, Storybook Land, Oriental Gardens, The Beach Midway, Ostrich Farm and many smaller nationally known parks are now fond photos in a dusty album. The Hail storm of 1907 pretty much took out Dixieland Trolley Park, aka: "Disney world #1". But we never rebuilt, the place was probably rodent infested anyway, so the "City of South Jacksonville," (yes it once WAS a City) decided to put up a ball park instead. All the Mice fled to Orlando.

We have such a "Bold New" collective group of leaders. We will create "City" and make it in "our image". Well folks that's pretty damned funny. We ran to Boston and Baltimore to make a copy of what they had in "The Jacksonville Landing." Then built it too small, backwards and without parking and frankly after 20 years it looked pretty beat up. We ran to New Orleans and Washington to cop that statue of General Jackson to place at the landing... oh yes, it is a copy from the SAME mold! Don't forget Godbold's Aquarium, we sent people to Chattanooga and St. Petersburg and God knows where else to copy that too...but it never happened. That darn unfinished Skyway? Copy of Morgantown, West Virginia, then when it fell apart, we remade it as a modern monorail. When we put all the City buildings and parking on the Waterfront downtown, we dug up an old steamship. You didn't hear about it? Shucks y'all, you know a pile driver can whoop them buggers right through those old rotten timbers. Sure is a good thing Orville and Wilbur died, because we might have gotten an airport with a completely different look... hummm? Wonder if THEY left any old plans laying around? Xerox City Anyone?

Okay, I'm finally done. If this wasn't MY CITY and a place I love I would NEVER have said these things. I have never figured out how we can manage to be the "Worlds Most Beautiful Downtown" and the nation's dumbest City in one moment in time. Now that my BP is up to about 600/400, I think I'll spend the lunch hour listening to "Foamy" rant... If you can handle a joke with a few (okay alot) of foul words, join me at Foamy's place. "Tech Support IV" is a scream!

http://www.illwillpress.com/

Ocklawaha

Timkin

July 11, 2010, 09:10:30 PM
Where did the Old Acosta Span end up? in the Ocean?

Ocklawaha

July 11, 2010, 09:19:04 PM

First highway bridge over the St.Johns River, unique, beautiful, historic and destroyed...

That's the case, and we're quite proud of it!

Quote
The Acosta Bridge Artificial Reef, LORAN 45195.18/61922.45, took an enormous amount of energy and hard work. There were years of planning by people behind the scenes that made the Acosta artificial reef a reality.   The JOSFC started working with the architects and engineers at the design stage of the new Acosta bridge to get offshore Jacksonville listed as an alternate disposal site for the old bridge.   The JOSFC coordinated all efforts, including monitoring the placements, and was responsible for maintenance of the reef.  The placement on June 23, 1992 was the first of between six and twelve loads of material that were transported offshore between June and November, 1992.
 

OCKLAWAHA

Timkin

July 11, 2010, 09:21:29 PM
Geez... how stupid.. They should have at least saved the Center Span.  Stupid Stupid Stupid.

Ocklawaha

July 11, 2010, 09:30:01 PM
According to the word from Jake Godbold back at the time, the center span WAS going to be saved and placed in a park. We did the deep six on that plan and got a reef instead. HEY! I think I'll take the family out to see the reef tomorrow... ooh, aah, Jacksonville!

OCKLAWAHA

Timkin

July 11, 2010, 09:32:36 PM
By now the thing is probably a pile of rust on the Ocean Floor. Nice Going, Major Jake!

Timkin

July 11, 2010, 09:35:49 PM
It would have been FAR LESS COSTLY to place the bridge in a Park somewhere than to dismantle it and deep six it in the Atlantic. Sometimes it just baffles me how some of the morons who have been Mayor, got to these positions.

billy

July 11, 2010, 09:39:44 PM
beyond sad

Jaxson

July 11, 2010, 09:57:41 PM
On the bright side [gag], take great pride [gag] in our awesome suburban [gag] parks!  [Runs for nearest empty trash can]

After all, there is more to our city than just downtown [pukes into trash can].

I can't spout this crap anymore!!! 

My first reaction to the above picture of our downtown and all of the buildings that were demolished in the name of 'progress'?  Pure revulsion.

It's tough to love a city when it is so hell-bent on destroying itself...

Timkin

July 11, 2010, 09:59:55 PM
Jaxson....  It was the City's Leadership and their special interests that saw all of this razed.  The common folk like yourself and I would NEVER have been in favor of all of these places being destroyed. That is what makes me sick.

Ocklawaha

July 11, 2010, 10:22:20 PM
Worst part of it is that our artist could have kept right on going, along the riverfront down through Riverside, well into LaVilla to Cleveland (under 95) and in the foreground all the way to Talleyrand, with very few tiny exceptions.
Some of those "other" things?


Fairfield Park and Fountain
Florida Avenue Commercial District
Streetcar Academy
Streetcar Barns
Streetcar and City Power Plant
Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company Station
Houston Street Warehouse District and Bordellos
Railway Post Office Building
Railway Express Terminal (Worlds Largest)
Fairfield (the neighborhood)
Brooklyn (the neighborhood)
LaVilla (the neighborhood)


Will the last person out PLEASE shut the gate?

OCKLAWAHA

mtraininjax

July 11, 2010, 11:55:11 PM
Quote
They should have at least saved the Center Span.

Why?

Progress of downtown looks great. When the businesses left downtown, did anyone think to save the Arcades? The saloons along the wharf? The residents demanded a different type of downtown. What we have now is great for the citizens of downtown. If you don't like downtown, you should move there and go see the mayor and city council and tell them what you and your masses want to see of downtown.

Next time the city takes down a bridge, make sure you have a plan to stick it somewhere. Maybe someone wants the old rusted thing in their park. I don't want it in Avondale!

Timkin

July 12, 2010, 12:01:29 AM
M there WAS a plan of relocating the Bridge.   Then that suddenly changed to making it a reef..

Not that we think they will be taking the Hart or Matthews down anytime soon but we will make sure to spare your Avondale neighborhood from these rusty old creatures. :)  Not to worry.  :)

Timkin

July 12, 2010, 12:10:14 AM
And to correct you,  Not that you would be corrected... the CITIZENS did not wish to see all of this get destroyed..

stephendare

July 12, 2010, 01:37:54 AM
Um.  Mtrain.  The 'citizens' didnt make that decision.  No one asked them.
The same people who made those decisions had a highway planned right through the middle of your once worthless neighborhood until the citizens stopped them.

Timkin

July 12, 2010, 01:54:25 AM
Even I did not know that , Stephen.... For M-trains sake , im glad his neighborhood was spared. I wish he would have the decency to respect the opinions of those of us who would want to see the relatively few pieces of our Downtown (and surrounding areas) saved... But he does not, he will not, he can not, and I cannot waste my time or tempure on the like of his mindset.  I just hope for whats left of the Urban Core and surrounding areas that the majority of us WOULD see saved, that we can vote into office , alike-minded people who would genuinely love to see a truly revitilized urban core .  For people like him,  It is ok as it is .  so be that.  but its not ok with me.

 :)

Timkin

July 12, 2010, 01:59:16 AM
And to add just a footnote in response to his statement about going to see the Mayor and the council and tell them what we would like.... the Mayor has his own agenda. and some not all of the Council does as well... Historic Building preservation/reuse is not even on the totem pole let alone a part of it.

When M-train told me , Annie is going to fall before the next 20 years (and he may be right)  I knew that his stabs became personal.  It is certainly going to be my goal (and many others) to fight to ensure that this does not become the case, M-train.  I will waste no more time debating with you .. you have your opinions , and more of us than you , have another. :)

CS Foltz

July 12, 2010, 07:06:53 AM
Well with our current Mayor's lack of vision and some kind of a plan, beyond taking care of all of his buddies, the majority of the Council with the very same game plan, why should it matter what we citizens have to say about much of anything.............I mean we are just supposed to put up with it and pay for all of the mistakes those in charge make! Somehow, we need to take back control of our City and we need to do it now! The simplest way I see this to happen is for us who vote, do so and with some forsight and thought........the GOB Network needs to be set back and the Nifty Fifty need to be ignored...........money be damned, we need the best possible people overseeing things, not the incompetent unknowing, unthinking and nonprofessionals who try to convince us Plan A is in our best interests when anyone can see that Plan C is a better choice! Its up to us to make the change!

fieldafm

July 12, 2010, 09:10:29 AM
Um.  Mtrain.  The 'citizens' didnt make that decision.  No one asked them.
The same people who made those decisions had a highway planned right through the middle of your once worthless neighborhood until the citizens stopped them.

How ridiculous would that have been to put a freaking highway through Riverside???

Quote
By now the thing is probably a pile of rust on the Ocean Floor. Nice Going, Major Jake!

It does serve a good purpose now.  Its great for fishing grouper!

ChriswUfGator

July 12, 2010, 10:21:30 AM
Progress of downtown looks great.

LMAO!

At you, not with you.

thelakelander

July 12, 2010, 12:41:03 PM
I hosted my family reunion in DT this past weekend.  Many of my family members from other communities came to me individually wanting to know why the streets were so empty.  For the older members who remember DT from the 60s/70s, DT has done a disappearing act.  One uncle from Atlanta said it looked like we had completely abandoned our downtown and wanted to know where all the people/businesses left and moved to.  I told him the Southside and Beaches.

fieldafm

July 12, 2010, 01:57:00 PM
Lake, were you at the Hyatt Sunday morning?
I was out on a bikeride down the riverwalk and thought I saw you, but didnt want to yell into a crowd of people if I was indeed mistaken, lol.

Timkin

July 12, 2010, 08:57:31 PM
Progress of downtown looks great.

LMAO!

At you, not with you.


   RIGHT?

Jaxson

July 12, 2010, 09:19:32 PM
I hosted my family reunion in DT this past weekend.  Many of my family members from other communities came to me individually wanting to know why the streets were so empty.  For the older members who remember DT from the 60s/70s, DT has done a disappearing act.  One uncle from Atlanta said it looked like we had completely abandoned our downtown and wanted to know where all the people/businesses left and moved to.  I told him the Southside and Beaches.

Speaking of Atlanta, we could learn some lessons from Atlanta.  I would like to know where Atlanta went right in the 1950s and 1960s that allowed it to beome a leading city in the Southeast.  I have read various theories ranging from Atlanta's progressive stance on civil rights to its taking the initiative to develop a world-class airport.

Ocklawaha

July 13, 2010, 12:24:58 AM
Um.  Mtrain.  The 'citizens' didnt make that decision.  No one asked them.
The same people who made those decisions had a highway planned right through the middle of your once worthless neighborhood until the citizens stopped them.

How ridiculous would that have been to put a freaking highway through Riverside???

Quote
By now the thing is probably a pile of rust on the Ocean Floor. Nice Going, Major Jake!

It does serve a good purpose now.  Its great for fishing grouper!

It just took some of that good ol' Jacksonville Genius for more asphalt!

Not only Riverside, but a huge 6 lane "parkway" that was drawn to run as an extension of the "Acosta Expressway" right through the old Jacksonville Terminal Yard. It would have passed right between the current FEC RY and the so-called "Prime Osbourne", right under I-95, Behind the JTA yard and come out on Beaver Street at the railroad overpass. A monstrosity that would have FOREVER killed ANY chance at us regaining our position as the railroad passenger hub of the Southeast. Thank Ipthar they didn't do it!


OCKLAWAHA

Timkin

July 13, 2010, 12:31:13 AM
*Giggling ... .Ock ..where the hell do you get these pictures ?    Hilarious !

CS Foltz

July 13, 2010, 06:37:37 AM
I believe those are from "Galaxy Quest"........Tim Allen & Sigorney Weaver .....english dude whose name escapes me......Alan somebody I want to say! I got it........Allen Rickman!

BackinJax05

April 13, 2012, 12:28:56 AM
I hated watching the old Acosta Bridge demolition. As I recall, though, the old bridge fought every bit of the way down. As for downtown buildings, was it really necessary to demolish the Heard National Bank building to make way for "Helmut's Pencil"? (The BofA tower)

Sorry, but in my opinion Helmut Jahn's "masterpiece" looks like a 42 floor pencil.

Timkin

April 13, 2012, 11:22:53 PM
I hated watching the old Acosta Bridge demolition. As I recall, though, the old bridge fought every bit of the way down. As for downtown buildings, was it really necessary to demolish the Heard National Bank building to make way for "Helmut's Pencil"? (The BofA tower)

Sorry, but in my opinion Helmut Jahn's "masterpiece" looks like a 42 floor pencil.

I remember them trying to dynamite the concrete counterweights to the bridge..  a couple of pebbles blew off and a little dust... and there it sat.. :o

For years before , the Rocket-Scientists at FDOT claimed that Bridge was structurally unsound and could collapse .  Horse cookies!  ::)

BackinJax05

April 13, 2012, 11:49:32 PM
I remember that. Fear of collapse led the charge to tear down the old bridge & replace it with an overpass.
Another historic landmark gone forever.

Timkin

April 14, 2012, 03:27:31 AM
I remember that. Fear of collapse led the charge to tear down the old bridge & replace it with an overpass.
Another historic landmark gone forever.

Yep.  Not to mention this City's oldest thoroughfare bridge in the downtown  area  destroyed   The Center Span now a pile of rust on the bottom of the Ocean, and blocks of buildings torn down to  make way for the current span.

BackinJax05

April 14, 2012, 06:58:23 AM
The original Acosta Bridge was insufficient for cars, but it could have been left as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Years ago I would walk the bridges. The view from the top of the old Acosta, facing downtown, was incredible.
Then there was all the ornate work built into the guardrails. Oh well, gotta make way for progress.

Jaxson

April 14, 2012, 12:18:15 PM
I hated watching the old Acosta Bridge demolition. As I recall, though, the old bridge fought every bit of the way down. As for downtown buildings, was it really necessary to demolish the Heard National Bank building to make way for "Helmut's Pencil"? (The BofA tower)

Sorry, but in my opinion Helmut Jahn's "masterpiece" looks like a 42 floor pencil.

Frankly, I never thought it it looking like a pencil before, but I will be looking for the majestic #2 to be looming over the skyline next time I cross the bridge downtown : ) But seriously, I remember reading in the Times-Union a while back running an article about how national architects view our downtown architecture (Especially the skyscrapers that make up our signature look) tends to lack the kind of design that we see in Atlanta, Miami or Houston. 

BackinJax05

April 14, 2012, 06:23:44 PM
LOL, Jax :)
Something else about "Helmut's Pencil": If you drive into downtown, north on 1-95, the Wells Fargo (formerly Independent Life) tower blocks the view. You cant see Helmut's Pencil, only the top of it.
From I-95 it looks like the Wells Fargo Building is wearing a Vietnamese style, triangular hat.

PS: If you havent already guessed, Im not too fond of Helmut's Pencil ;D

BackinJax05

August 18, 2012, 01:26:40 AM
I hated watching the old Acosta Bridge demolition. As I recall, though, the old bridge fought every bit of the way down. As for downtown buildings, was it really necessary to demolish the Heard National Bank building to make way for "Helmut's Pencil"? (The BofA tower)

Sorry, but in my opinion Helmut Jahn's "masterpiece" looks like a 42 floor pencil.

Frankly, I never thought it it looking like a pencil before, but I will be looking for the majestic #2 to be looming over the skyline next time I cross the bridge downtown : ) But seriously, I remember reading in the Times-Union a while back running an article about how national architects view our downtown architecture (Especially the skyscrapers that make up our signature look) tends to lack the kind of design that we see in Atlanta, Miami or Houston. 

You said #2 ;D

A perfect description of Helmut's pencil.

Overstreet

August 18, 2012, 08:25:31 AM
Certain times of the year the buzzards come in from the burbs and roost on the top of that building with the bank inside. I'll look and see if I can find the picture. I've always joked that the forclosure section moved to the upper offices and they were having  a meeting.
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