In research on Jacksonville's History, the advocacy and writing of one visionary woman stands out vividly in the small circle of people who determined the future of this city: Eve Heaney. Eve was a singular woman, especially for her time. She was the female editor of Jacksonville Magazine, one of the first to do so. Below is the seminal argument that ignited the move towards creating a City Plan.
She followed this up with a series of articles by some of the best minds and talents of the time and drove a series of community conversations that coincided with Consolidation in 1967.
Eve and the planners of 1967 were very wrong about some of their basic premises. Some fairly disastrous policies were implemented during this era. Planning was still a very new discipline. But the arguments were valid and passionately discussed.
Come with us now as we go back through time to rediscover the original debates and essays that led to the future we are all living in.
One thing that comes through even across so many decades is the talent, intelligence, and visionary nature of the woman herself. Her passionate leadership and character firmly nudged Jacksonville into the modern era.
She was born in Indiana in 1918, her childhood was The Great Depression, and she was only 49 when she wrote the following. She died in 1993 at the age of 74.
Jacksonville badly needs a biography of this woman who changed so much about our everyday lives and did it before the era of Women's Liberation.
The Bustling Downtown of the Eve Heaney Era
Whats In It For Me,
Jacksonville Magazine, 1967
Today, there are over 511,000 people and 255,000 cars in Duval County. People and Automobiles---one mobile and emotional the other subject to this emotional motion.
Two approaches to this mobility are open. Either people get together and make sensible plans or each turns his head the other way and does what he pleases without outside interference...The good old system of Laissez Faire, which has until now, worked for our advantage.
There is no greater incentive to human effort than the rewards of personal achievement and personal gain.
What's in it for Me! is still fundamental.
Fifty years ago, Jacksonville people were building a greater Jacksonville for themselves and the rewards were dollars. Every move, every plan was an individual plan with only one objective in mind----personal profit. Then business got so good that out on the farms young men began packing up old cardboard suitcases, each containing mother's picture, one suit of clothes, one pair of shoes, a shirt and tie, lots of hope (and maybe $2)... and they all headed for Jacksonville to 'get ahead'.
Prompted by memories of the close family relationship out in remote areas, these lonesome farm boys clustered in Jacksonville along with the winter tourists and the fine old families. The automobile kept these clusters ever moving....first at 20 miles an hour, then Henry Ford speeded up the gas engine so that city police had to take control and do a little 'group planning'.
The buggies had been relatively safe, because few horses would deliberately run into each other. But the automobiles, bigger and more powerful every year, had no such survival instincts and the humans directing to them responded to this surge of power. Planning began to implicate not only the individual but also all his neighbors and their automobiles.
Profit and loss still disciplined business more or less, however: and if your customers didn't like you, they bought suits, furniture, and dishes at the store down the street. But today, how many marginal business are kept have alive by the small business loans and easy money from a benevolent government? Cities can no longer count altogether on economic atrophy to weed out the undesirable operations before they infest and blight whole streets.
There's no doubt about it. Jacksonville's future greatness may depend on what its people think and do in the next five to ten years. Every year will be a decisive 12 months... not so much in terms of the present but for possibly 20 or 30 years from now.
Mobility of Americans means that every large city must develop strong leadership bolstered by long range plans if the city is to maintain its identity and the continuation of that identity.
The government has its constitution, the church has its prayer book. The club has its bylaws and policies. The city must also have its protection against the whims of changing leadership in a mobile world.
The velocity with which people will circulate in and out of the big cities means that every civic, cultural, and governmental body in a community must be protected from the dangerous vortex of unplanned change. No longer is it a matter of Laissez -faire per se....it will be laissez-faire that's disciplined by city planning long range.
Without some community planning in Jacksonville, the automobiles would still be ferried across the St Johns River, only to stall in traffic jams on the southside. But have we started planning too late?
As recent as 1950, there were only two bridges across the river. Both emptied into southside little more than a block apart. (There must have been a reason for this, but hot tired businessmen couldn't find ANY reason as they perspired in their overheated cars)
Today, there are four bridges and another under construction. The Matthews bridge opened up the whole Arlington section at a time when people said "Why build a bridge to Arlington? There's nothing over there!" What was in Arlington was only some of the country's most beautiful virgin timberland, part of which became Jacksonville University's campus and part of which offered city residents the chance to move back into the country to find homes in peaceful woodland settings. Today there are more than 70,000 'over there in the Arlington section". Every morning and evening the cars bring them back and forth to work so that central city is clogged with automobiles and people by day... then left at nightfall to tally up the take and balance it against the overhead and the taxes----out fumbled again.
Of course, the perils of area planning are virtually unknown, even though the enlarging academy of community planners has been building up a vernacular for a couple of decades. Carried away in the dreams of cool oases midst 20 story granite mortuaries (sans sun and breeze, but cooled and lighted by electricity), will community planners leave out two most important measurements to which all their planning should be related?
What about people? What's in it for them? Will planners put trees and flowers on their streets, then shut up thousands of people in windowless offices? Is this good planning? People are not computers, to be officed in dustless, humidity controlled, orderly cubicles. (Even cows are let out to pasture)
(nice bit of prophecy, Eve!-----s.d.)
What about profits?
What's in it for the businessman? Wish as we may that masses of people will cluster in central businesses to work and to shop and to flee quietly to the suburbs, neatly leaving only their efforts and their money behind....wish as we may that businessmen will build beautiful downtown shops and offices to replace every bit of the obsolete without thinking twice about profits, we cannot expect growth automatically to create profitable untroubled American cities. Change is too drastic, too overwhelming.
Without long range planning now, central cities will no longer draw to themselves the best people. The automobile will have taken them to the suburbs where they'll build shopping centers, offices, plants, art museums and parks to please PEOPLE AND PROFITS. So say some of the more enlightened planners.
Jacksonville is in that continuous process of self examination. The very fact that conclusions must also take into account the changing habits and long ranges tastes of more than half a million people keeps decision making hazardous, even for qualified city planners.
Jacksonville's downtown has had a puzzling growth pattern in recent years. Going back to June 15, 1822, when the first plat was drawn up and the city's birth date was understood to have been established, boundaries were marked at Newnan on the West, Monroe on the North, and Washington on the east, with the St. John's River on the south.
As the city outgrew this center, a new central business district gradually moved westward along Bay Street, then branched out to the north off this main thoroughfare, while Bay Street aged and declined. In recent years, Bay Street has been transformed again. Both east of the Main Street bridge and west of it. The renovation extended down to the water's edge as City Hall and Court House replaced run down docks and buildings in the original old city, and on the west, Atlantic Coast Line building, Sears with its parking lot, The Auditorium, Stockton Whatley Davin and Co, and now the new Federal Building enhance property values.
Between these east and west developments on the north bank of the St. Johns, a huge municipal parking lot (filled every day by cars of the people who come to work in these new buildings) replaced old wharves and warehouses.
In just a few years, the new Commodores Point Bridge will funnel Beaches and Southside traffic into the heart of that original Jacksonville plat every morning. Large but run down old homes will be removed to make room for a continuing variety of architectural styles....many for the professional services natural around City Hall and Court House. Land is cheaper in this area, for the moment, because the decaying old homes have created low property values. Serious planning will be vital during the next five years to make the most of these drastic changes.
Today the central city per se seems to be contained in a section bordered by Main on the East. Beaver Street on the north, Broad Street on the west, and the St. John's River on the south.
Main Street divides east and west as effectively as a railroad track....and Main Street is the victim.
As a part of Highway 1, connecting Florida with northern tourists, Main Street and its bridge to the southside have carried more cars than almost any street in Jacksonville (until the expressway system was built). Traffic is still heavy and parking has been prohibited to allow cars to speed through faster. Business gradually has had the foot traffic even before that.
While not as much of a thoroughfare as Main Street, Broad Street has been a virtual boundary in that it connected into the other bridge across the St Johns---The Acosta (the first of the two bridges serving Jacksonville until the 1950s). Bay and Broad also funnel traffic between downtown and the fashionable Riverside and Ortega areas.
These traffic boundaries, while they served to contain the central city have not choked it off by any means. One way streets in the central city have tended to give pedestrians and even break with the automobile.....parking lots have "baby sat" the cars for downtowners....and a shuttle bus, "The Downtowner" runs from the municipal parking lot to circle the central city every few minutes---free of charge.
Across the banks of the St Johns, on land once spoiled by old buildings and march, a third area is coming into its own. Prudential built the tallest building (in the State), the waterfront park, with its fountains and marina has dominated the filled land between the Alsop and Acosta Bridges and Gulf Life Insurance Company is beginning its giant complex. Treaty Oak, with its proposed high rise apartments and small shops is becoming more promisingly vivid in dreams.
Imagine the daytime population of that small area along the south banks when it's all developed. Imagine the automobiles to be moved....to be parked!
Unless Jacksonville takes the initiative now in seriously planning for this growth in the next ten years.....unless planners cope effectively with the automobile (few inventions have so revolutionized social and economic folkways and mores as has the automobile), the seeds of three separate city areas in downtown will sprout and grow...with nothing to unite the thousands of people who drive their automobiles to work every day.
Lunch hour shopping may be confined to walking distance, but unless the paths are quick and logical to the walking shopper with limited time on parking meters, what will there be to take him or her from one area to the other....so long as his needs are met in his area?
On the surface, Main Street does not seem the logical uniting factor. It runs north and south. It has heavy traffic.
The connecting links between 'original city' on the east and the newer 'central city' on the west as contained in Main, Beaver, and Broad Streets can best be effected by paths that run east and west parallel to the river.
The south banks of the St. John's (while still relying on the Main Street and Acosta bridges and the automobile to some extent) can best be linked by a path that takes people across the water without any autos.
Until recently, most planning was by road builders, real estate developers, traffic control, and the incongruous zoning regulations of city and county government....and all somehow working at cross purposes. Growth can turn a city into a slum. Planning and effort can turn even a slum into a fine city. How do you keep 'hit and miss' growth from spoiling valuable real estate?
Leaders in Jacksonville and its Duval County have shown increasing awareness of the significance of a plan for land use to benefit the growing (and mobile) population. In 1961, by an act of the Florida Legislature, a bill was passed to create the Jacksonville Duval Area Planning Board. Since the original act limited funds, appropriated at the discretion of the County Commission, to $60,000, the legislature has had to amend the act to lift the ceiling. The Board has asked for $75,000 in 1965-1966...the new money to be used to increase staff in readiness for a Federal Grant.
Under the "701" plan for use of Federal funds, local funds pay 1/3 and Federal funds pay 2/3 of the cost of drawing up a comprehensive, long range plan for the entire Duval County area, under the Urban Planning Assistance Program. Marvin Hill , executive director of the Jacksonville Duval Area Planning Board, is negotiating for this assistance.
When Hill went to Atlanta April 15, he presented plans for four phases, requesting funds for only Phases 1 and 2 combined, covering an 18 month period. A temporary cutback in Federal funds was slapped into effect and permitted granting of money for only 12 months at a time, so Hill had to separate Phases 1 and 2, resubmit Phase 1 expanded to provide for consultants and staff time and outline Phase 2 so that it would be ready for immediate presentation when the new fiscal year begins in July.
Field work on the comprehensive long range planning will begin as soon as staff is organized, according to Hill. Specific area planning will not be a part of this program but will come after the overall plan has been established. Literally the specific application of the master plan.
Architects, builders and industry agree: THERE IS A CRYING NEED FOR A SURVEY LAND USE MAP FOR THE ENTIRE COUNTY. This survey land use map, developed as Federal grants came through, may be one of the most crucial steps toward directing the major improvements Jacksonville will experience in the next 20 to 30 years.
While the survey land use map is still a little ways off, Jacksonville Magazine will continue a series of 'walking tours' through the downtown areas to stimulate this self analysis.....with the full realization that grown is best when sensibly planned and plans are best when the most basic of human needs are not overlooked.
Eve Heaney, 1967
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