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A Secret Under Oak Street

The rain waters of Tropical Storm Fay reveal a little history under Oak Street.

Published September 3, 2008 in History      30 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


This hole, exposing historic brick paving andstreetcar ties,opened up last week on Oak Street, one block south of the Riverside Publix. The streetcar line through Riverside once ran as far south as NAS Jax and spurred transit oriented developments, such as Ortega.












30 Comments

Jason

September 03, 2008, 08:47:57 AM
I wish riverside had more of the old brick roads.  Kinda rough on your car but they do slow people down.

How old is that streetcar line Ock?

Ocklawaha

September 03, 2008, 09:24:46 AM
It dates to the development of Ortega, until that time, the Jacksonville Electric Company ended at a picnic ground in the edge of a large swamp. Today we call that spot 5-Points!

The track extended by THE ORTEGA TRACTION COMPANY, ran from May Street in 5-Points, to Oak to King - St Johns - Aberdeen - Herschel - Grand - Baltic and a terminal at Ortega Village. The company bought a couple of small interurban cars, beautiful wood with arched windows, the upper portion being stained glass.
Seats were probably velvet. I haven't found the order ford the cars but suspect they were JEWITT PRODUCTS.

When WWI caused Camp Joseph Johnston to bloom into a full base at YUKON, the car line was extended by the DUVAL TRACTION COMPANY to todays Roosevelt, hence near the railroad all the way to YUKON I believe the line entered the North (truck gate today) and ran right in front (North) of all the new hangers all the way back to the river at Black Point. .25 cents got one a non-stop ride from the camp to Bay Street, over the tracks of all three electric railroads. Duval Traction and Ortega Traction soldiered on until they were merged into Jacksonville Traction, founded in 1912, it was a new name for the former Jacksonville Electric. By the mid 1920's it was all JTCO.

After the war, service was severely cut back and the camp became Camp Foster, of the Florida National Guard. The base extension was abandoned early sometime in the 1920's.


OCKLAWAHA

TD*

September 03, 2008, 12:32:35 PM
That is pretty cool

deathstar

September 03, 2008, 10:53:07 PM
I can has time machine? Plzkthxbai
Seriously though, Jacksonville today seems boring compared to back in the day!

I-10east

September 04, 2008, 12:31:30 PM
Hey, Atleast we have the "Riverside Trolley"...errr...bus, that NEVER comes ev'ry ten minutes :( :-[ ::)

happical

October 04, 2008, 10:04:35 PM
There are "secret" brick roads all over the Riverside/Avondale area- they've just been covered by asphalt!!!
wtf jacksonville?!



This picture was taken right off of Riverside Avenue, but I see this all the time in the area!

RiversideGator

October 05, 2008, 01:04:35 AM
While brick streets look much nicer, they are not exactly state of the art driving surfaces.  They tend to become warped faster than asphalt and they are by nature more bumpy.  I am all for preservation but I dont know if I would support all brick streets in Riverside/Avondale.  There is a reason why asphalt has supplanted brick for street construction.

happical

October 05, 2008, 11:14:30 AM
While brick streets look much nicer, they are not exactly state of the art driving surfaces.  They tend to become warped faster than asphalt and they are by nature more bumpy.  I am all for preservation but I dont know if I would support all brick streets in Riverside/Avondale.  There is a reason why asphalt has supplanted brick for street construction.


riverside gator- It is very possible to preserve brick streets and maintain them so that they aren't "bumpy".   Many other cities have done this successfully- such as the historic downtown regions of Savannah, Georgia, St Augustine, as well as Fernandina Beach. Some of the brick roads in Jacksonville date back to as early as 1893! These brick streets not only add to the aesthetic value, but they also add to property values in the area. I'm not saying that Riverside's streets should all be torn up and re-bricked, I'm saying its a shame that when there was the opportunity to preserve the bricks streets, Jacksonville failed to do it and now its too late...



French Lick, Indiana

Princeton, Illinois

Savannah, Georgia

Ocklawaha

October 05, 2008, 12:52:16 PM
In The above photos: French Lick is using modern pavers on a hard road OR impressed - colored asphalt or concrete
Princeton and Savannah are using the old brick on sand models.


True, the old streets were laid on a bed of limestone, leveled, and then a course of sand was laid down, the bricks were tamped nto the sand. There was no morter or binder. When heavy rains brought running water down the sides, the sand tended to wash away leaving very rough surfaces. Jacksonville had 3 types of brick street that I have been able to chase down.

The first example, brick on sand, on sub-roadbed of limestone.

Second, concrete curbed, brick set in cement morter. (an example still survives in the park at YUKON across from NAS Jax, and is a trail. (bring bug spray!)

Third, we had a combination of the above, with a blue glazed "Tile-Brick" these were used on some of the downtown connector streets such as Laura, and Broad. The bricks were colorful, but the glaze tended to smear or wipe off. The early streetcar motormen and drivers cursed them in the rain, as going toward the river in the rain, ment NO BRAKES! You still see them on occasion.

Today, we have colored asphalt that is impressed to look just like brick. We also have all manner of paving brick and stones, that can be laid on the hard surfaces.

For Streetcar, I'm a HUGE fan of a removable paver. It's not done much anymore, mostly because we have forgotten how to build Light Rail. With a 50,000 pound vehicle depressing that sub-roadbed over and over the pumping action will knock the tracks out of alignment. Shall we then (say every 15 years) dig up the whole street or just remove pavers where a rail or joint has sagged?

Pavers also make for FANTASTIC passive transit lanes, as a driver you get two choices, you CAN drive with the streetcars or trolley buses on the pavers A n D  s H a K e  Y o U r  S e L f  S i L l Y, or just shift to the concrete or asphalt lane and move on. No lane restrictions are needed for BRT or LRT simply a passive way that says, your welcome here, but you'll have to play by our rules. You improve beauty, traffic moves aside, transit flows, and the result is less automobiles in the dense areas. For trolley buses, you simply add smooth asphalt runways in the brick. Autos are not wide enough to get a tire on each runway, so the effect stays the same, while the trolley bus passengers get a silk smooth ride.


OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

October 05, 2008, 01:03:09 PM


Just in case you missed them. Oh yeah, NEVER try and run across this in the rain either!

SPLAT!


OCKLAWAHA

RiversideGator

October 05, 2008, 02:01:19 PM
While brick streets look much nicer, they are not exactly state of the art driving surfaces.  They tend to become warped faster than asphalt and they are by nature more bumpy.  I am all for preservation but I dont know if I would support all brick streets in Riverside/Avondale.  There is a reason why asphalt has supplanted brick for street construction.


riverside gator- It is very possible to preserve brick streets and maintain them so that they aren't "bumpy".   Many other cities have done this successfully- such as the historic downtown regions of Savannah, Georgia, St Augustine, as well as Fernandina Beach. Some of the brick roads in Jacksonville date back to as early as 1893! These brick streets not only add to the aesthetic value, but they also add to property values in the area. I'm not saying that Riverside's streets should all be torn up and re-bricked, I'm saying its a shame that when there was the opportunity to preserve the bricks streets, Jacksonville failed to do it and now its too late...



French Lick, Indiana

Princeton, Illinois

Savannah, Georgia


I disagree that brick streets can be made as smooth as asphalt.  This is simply not possible because of the seams in the brick streets and the fact that erosion causes the streets to buckle pretty rapidly.  Also, as Ock pointed out, the first example you give is not an historic brick street and the 2nd and 3rd examples you cite are historic but are uneven and have dips thereby proving my point.  So, while I am all for historic preservation and even preserving brick streets in some areas, brick streets are simply inferior surfaces for driving.

civil42806

October 05, 2008, 08:18:47 PM
While brick streets look much nicer, they are not exactly state of the art driving surfaces.  They tend to become warped faster than asphalt and they are by nature more bumpy.  I am all for preservation but I dont know if I would support all brick streets in Riverside/Avondale.  There is a reason why asphalt has supplanted brick for street construction.


riverside gator- It is very possible to preserve brick streets and maintain them so that they aren't "bumpy".   Many other cities have done this successfully- such as the historic downtown regions of Savannah, Georgia, St Augustine, as well as Fernandina Beach. Some of the brick roads in Jacksonville date back to as early as 1893! These brick streets not only add to the aesthetic value, but they also add to property values in the area. I'm not saying that Riverside's streets should all be torn up and re-bricked, I'm saying its a shame that when there was the opportunity to preserve the bricks streets, Jacksonville failed to do it and now its too late...



French Lick, Indiana

Princeton, Illinois

Savannah, Georgia


I disagree that brick streets can be made as smooth as asphalt.  This is simply not possible because of the seams in the brick streets and the fact that erosion causes the streets to buckle pretty rapidly.  Also, as Ock pointed out, the first example you give is not an historic brick street and the 2nd and 3rd examples you cite are historic but are uneven and have dips thereby proving my point.  So, while I am all for historic preservation and even preserving brick streets in some areas, brick streets are simply inferior surfaces for driving.

No way a brick street can be as smooth as asphalt.  If you've driven the side streets in Savannah that are made of brick you'll figure out that quick.

Ocklawaha

October 06, 2008, 12:23:28 AM
I wouldn't even say bricks are inferior as pavers, it's simply more labor intensive and while it's a real improvement in atmosphere, let's save the real brick pavers for the REAL streetcar tracks. Just think "Aberdeen done smoothly and removable". The stuff on Aberdeen suffers from being on sand, AND having rotting 1917 vintage crossties underneath. As the ties rot the road will corduroy A NON-BRICK example of this is found on the North End of Oak near the Publix in Riverside. (Great way to find long extinct streetcar lines)
In snow country, the area where the ties are will melt first due to organic heat in the wood ties, and the old track becomes visible through the melt, even though it is long buried or covered.

Our new streetcar will probably be laid with flat steel ties, or concrete bucket piers with private track getting traditional concrete or wood cross ties. The cost of wood makes Concrete just as cheap and it lasts longer.

As I have said, I FAVOR BRICK:

Brick trim
Brick Crosswalks
Brick Track - Streetcar - Trolley Bus lanes

Brick in ALL CASES set with modern standards. We certainly don't want any more Aberdeen examples as main roads in Jacksonville. But then keep in mind, many theme parks and downtowns use the modern set and have no trouble at all with smoothness.

As the the old Mortered road in Yukon - It was called the "Old Orange Park Road" when I was a child, I've only driven on a small part and that nearly 50 years ago or so. I don't remember it being bumpy, and I always loved roads (go figure - anything transportation) so I think I would recall. A recent trip by myself and The Lakelander to the same road, found it in remarkable condition as a trail. I strongly recommend going into the park across from NAS Jax, and following the road almost to the end, until you see the little "OLD BRICK ROAD SIGN" get out (SWAT) and try (SWAT - SWAT) and (SWAT) get a (SWAT) photo. (before these swamp critters fly away with all your blood). If you take a bath in BLACK FLAG you might even take a few steps down the historic lane.


OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

October 06, 2008, 12:50:01 AM

Flexible brick pavement - and it might not have ANY concrete under it.


Mortarless Brick Pavement - The style that could be used in modern streetcar construction with rails bolted to the Concrete roadbed and supported by bucket piers (bucket track). Smooth road with just enough roar to cause you to move into the other lane if available.



Modern Interlocking-Brick Pavers


No bricks here, just asphalt or concrete - colored and impressed (pretty slick eh?)


OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

October 08, 2009, 12:51:24 PM
Just got a note from Dog Walker asking that I post these shots of Aberdeen St.





For those who have not seen this, check it out before the city comes in and wipes away the last vestige of memory of our once extensive Traction Company. Aberdeen, was a double track route, which most of our lines seem to have been. It ran from Brooklyn on Oak Street to King, to St. Johns Avenue, then to Aberdeen (just south of St. Vincents) to Herschel, where it headed south for NAS JAX, then called Camp Johnston. The stretch on Aberdeen is the last classic streetcar patch we have. As the old wooden ties are rotting under the pavement, the road has become a corduroy drive, and is quite rough. To a lesser extent all of the old car lines where the track or ties are under the pavement suffer the same fate. Oak Street near the Publix in 5-Points is another streetcar joy ride.

This trackage was built by the Ortega Traction Company, part of the Ortega Company, on the north it connected with Jacksonville Traction in 5-Points and on the South, it connected with Duval Traction Company in Ortega Village for Camp Johnston. After construction and a short operation period, both of the smaller companies were absorbed by the Jacksonville Traction Company.

After the take over the Ortega Company sued the Jacksonville Traction Company over a breech of contract, based on the exorbitant fares which were one or two cents more then the Ortega Company had originally charged. They felt the extra penny's were holding back home sales and doing irreparable damage to the new development. The fare from downtown to Camp Johnston, was .25 cents and the cars made no stops between the base and the downtown grid. (MIKE MILLER: "They called this SRT, streetcar rapid transit!") smile!


OCKLAWAHA

thelakelander

October 08, 2009, 12:54:46 PM
where are the shots?

Ocklawaha

October 08, 2009, 01:02:20 PM
Aberdeen Street west of St. Johns Avenue in Riverside. Warning: You might need 4-wheel drive, it's rough as driving down the CSX.

OCKLAWAHA

thelakelander

October 08, 2009, 01:05:41 PM
Here is a shot of Aberdeen from a few months ago.

Overstreet

October 08, 2009, 01:51:30 PM

Flexible brick pavement - and it might not have ANY concrete under it.


Mortarless Brick Pavement - The style that could be used in modern streetcar construction with rails bolted to the Concrete roadbed and supported by bucket piers (bucket track). Smooth road with just enough roar to cause you to move into the other lane if available.



Modern Interlocking-Brick Pavers


No bricks here, just asphalt or concrete - colored and impressed (pretty slick eh?)


OCKLAWAHA


First thing to remember is that “brick” is clay formed into a rectangle and baked with low strength and wear qualities. It is good enough for some pedestrian applications. Install it on vehicle areas and you’ll replace it a lot. 
 
All the “brick” in Ocklawaha’s post here are interlocking concrete pavers. This is a different animal entirely. The material is concrete with higher strength and wear characteristics.  The shape causes it to lock giving a much stronger surface. Pavers come in many colors and shapes. They also come in thickness appropriate to the use. For example pedestrian will be thin and truck traffic will be thick.

Note that most systems installed over concrete get a 1" sand bed for leveling on top of the concrete. The sand is also special sand with rougher edges to the grains to lock better. The sub-base is compacted and tested to a load bearing ratio.

As with any paving system integrity of the underground utilities is paramount to maintain the sub-base structure.

Overstreet

October 08, 2009, 01:54:50 PM
Those systems also require a curb or other limiting device for the pavers to be "wedged" against.

Dog Walker

October 08, 2009, 02:10:03 PM
Slight correction, Overstreet.  The street bricks here in Jacksonville and other places are still fired clay not concrete.  But they are "vitrified" brick i.e. fired at a much higher temperature until the silica liquefies and fuses.  They are MUCH harder and more durable than regular brick or concrete pavers.  It's like the difference between terra cotta earthenware and porcelain.

You can still clearly read the makers marks on the bricks even after one hundred years of traffic running over them.

Ocklawaha

October 08, 2009, 03:04:06 PM
Slight correction, Overstreet.  The street bricks here in Jacksonville and other places are still fired clay not concrete.  But they are "vitrified" brick i.e. fired at a much higher temperature until the silica liquefies and fuses.  They are MUCH harder and more durable than regular brick or concrete pavers.  It's like the difference between terra cotta earthenware and porcelain.

You can still clearly read the makers marks on the bricks even after one hundred years of traffic running over them.

Great remarks from both of you. I was going to comment that paving brick from the old days was a completely different animal then other bricks. The biggest drawback of the old streets is that they were laid on a bed of compacted limestone or sand. Once a few big washing rain storms took out some of the fill, the streets went to hell. There was a great side effect to that though, most wagons and buggy's had no shock absorbers, so the streetcar business stayed king of the hill. I'd love to take a certain friends 1920(?) something Stanley, over that street just to see how it rode... but I bet he'd kill me!

Now that I've got you guys on the brick road, anyone know how they stack up to our firebrick in the steam locomotives? The firebox can easily get around the same temperatures as the surface of the Sun. The buggers do crack on occasion and have to be replaced, which if we EVER get to work on 1504, I'll gladly volunteer some of YOU GUYS to do that job! (Y'all have the smokebox all to yourselves too!)

Lake, what do you think the odds would be of pushing a R.A.P. petition around so when Aberdeen comes up for re-pavement, we either:

reinstall a section of track and brick with a proper marker...
or
put down a smooth base and replace the brick just like it is, with a proper marker...


OCKLAWAHA

heights unknown

October 08, 2009, 03:08:55 PM
Ah Oak Street.  Used to live on Margaret and had a friend who lived on Oak Street, very familiar with Oak Street but didn't know there was a "hidden secret" under Oak Street.  Wonders never cease.

Five decades or more ago, I'd say half of Jax's streets had brick pavement.  When we lived in LaVilla Duval Street, and the others in that area had brick pavement.

Heights Unknown

Dark Knight

October 08, 2009, 04:35:13 PM
I will support original brick and track replacement,as it is my chidhood home .Go Riverside!!!

Overstreet

October 08, 2009, 05:04:23 PM
Slight correction, Overstreet.  The street bricks here in Jacksonville and other places are still fired clay not concrete.  But they are "vitrified" brick i.e. fired at a much higher temperature until the silica liquefies and fuses.  They are MUCH harder and more durable than regular brick or concrete pavers.  It's like the difference between terra cotta earthenware and porcelain.

You can still clearly read the makers marks on the bricks even after one hundred years of traffic running over them.

That is the old bricks they used to install. The new stuff that maintains a better sub base and flatter surface is the concrete pavers. For example, the Jacksonville Landing has three different grades of concrete pavers.

Overstreet

October 08, 2009, 05:06:28 PM


French Lick, Indiana


For example, the street is interlocking concrete pavers. The side walk is probably concrete pavers since they make them to look like clay pavers.

Dog Walker

October 09, 2009, 09:41:50 AM
Here, Ock.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_brick  Looks like they are a different mix of materials than street bricks.

Relining a firebox has to be one of the dirtiest jobs ever.

The new concrete pavers are really great.  They must be made of a different kind of concrete or compressed somehow because they are so dense and hard.

One real downside of the old brick streets (and I rode on St. Augustine and San Jose when they were brick) is that when it rained, they got very slippery.  Concrete pavers do not.

A few years ago, the city came out to asphalt over another of the brick streets in Riverside without any prior notice.  I think it was Elizabeth Place.  The homeowners literally stood in front of the paving machines and refused to move and defied the city to asphalt their brick street.  It is still brick. 

Most of the streets in Riverside are still brick under a layer of asphalt.  You can see it peeking through at some of the intersections.  Evidently the asphalt kept the water from eroding the crushed limestone beds and they have lasted a really long time.

Ocklawaha

October 28, 2009, 03:42:37 PM
Just got back from a visit to Springfield. Anyone who missed seeing the old Jacksonville, below the new one, park and check out the cave-in in the middle of Pearl just south of 8Th. A new spot for a flashlight, brick layer intact, railroad ties, and suprise of suprise, ballast under the track. That ballast could put our streetcar company in a whole different league historically then previous thought. Very cool to look under the city's skirt!

OCKLAWAHA

Sportmotor

October 28, 2009, 06:35:04 PM
bricks = pretty to look at
bricks = A BITCH TO DRIVE ON
bricks = harder on your tires and suspension and upkeep

concrete/ashphalt = not as pretty
concrete/ashphalt = Nicer to drive on
concrete/ashphalt = easyer to maintain then brick


I'll take concrete ashphalt to drive on
but I will take brick to look at where I will never ever ever ever drive

Ocklawaha

October 28, 2009, 06:50:42 PM
bricks = pretty to look at
bricks = A BITCH TO DRIVE ON
bricks = harder on your tires and suspension and upkeep

concrete/ashphalt = not as pretty
concrete/ashphalt = Nicer to drive on
concrete/ashphalt = easyer to maintain then brick


I'll take concrete ashphalt to drive on
but I will take brick to look at where I will never ever ever ever drive

Which is exactly why I am a supporter of brick, cobblestone, pavers, impressed colored asphalt or concrete on the lanes with mixed auto and streetcar traffic. You hit the nail on the head when you said YOU would never drive on them, but what if that streetcar passes you on your left, because the guy in front of you at the light has stalled out? With these type streetcar lanes, you could just swing around the guy, following the streetcar, rattle - rattle - rattle - rattle, and back into your smooth lane.

We get:

1. A safer streetcar experience for everyone.

2. A passive separation of mixed traffic.

3. A chance to beautify our traffic lanes.

4. A quickly recognized hazard for bicyclists, who have read how to cross the tracks on our signs.

On a recent day in Bogota, I damn near tripped over the STREETCAR TRACKS! Can you believe that? They are all in asphalt and blend in with the roadway, we were talking and suddenly oops. BTW, the system was abandoned in the 1950's after a bunch of rioters torched the carbarns and cars!



OCKLAWAHA
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