Forgotten Proposals: The Jacksonville Quay

August 7, 2009 19 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

"The creation of the quayage would greatly improve the appearance of the waterfront in that area and would enhance the value of the adjoining property." Florida Times-Union - 1929

Fifty-Eight years before the grand opening of the Jacksonville Landing, a similar themed public space was proposed for the Northbank riverfront.  The Jacksonville Quay was proposed by George W. Simons, Jr., a young city planner, in 1929.

What is a Quay?

A quay (UK: /ˈkiː/, US: /ˈkeɪ, ˈkweɪ/) is a wharf or bank where ships and other vessels are loaded. A quay may be constructed parallel or perpendicular to the bank of a waterway. In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations, the word is commonly used, while Americans typically use "wharf." Similar words are found in many European languages. In French, it is spelled quai as in Quai d'Orsay, the home of the French foreign ministry headquarters.

What was the Jacksonville Quay?

This Ocean Street fish market would have been in the center of Simons' proposed Jacksonville Quay.

"Jacksonville commands an immediate trading area of at least 17 counties.  Why shouldn't the [back country] contribute a greater share of the food supply of Jacksonville?"
George W. Simons, Jr - 1929

The quay would have been a public owned riverfront market.  It would have been a centralized place where goods from at least 17 surrounding counties would have been traded and sold to the public.  

Centralized Location

The quay would have taken up three blocks of the Northbank riverfront between Main and Market Streets.  Simons believed this site was ideal because it had road, rail, water access and it was central to the residents of Duval County.

Today, this site is occupied by the Hyatt and the Landing's parking lot.

Redevelopment or Economic Engine?

Open since 1907, Seattle's Pike Place Market has become one of the city's most popular tourist destinations.  One can only wonder if the Jacksonville Quay would have enjoyed the same success.

Today downtown is known for being a place in need of redevelopment. However, 80 years ago, downtown was as vibrant as it would ever get.  Instead of being a redevelopment idea, Simons viewed the establishment of the quay as an additional economic engine for a region still recovering from the bust of the Florida Boom.

What ended up happening?

Nothing. Like many great ideas throughout time, the Quay never made it off the drawing board. Nevertheless, even today, there are those that believe a full blown public market would be a great addition to the urban waterfront.

Article by Ennis Davis

Source: Landing Idea first emerged back in 1929 by Bill Foley
Florida Times-Union 08/31/94 (Jacksonville Public Library Special Collections Department)