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Elements of Urbanism: Macon, GA

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at the downtown core of Macon, GA, which is known as the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World.”

Published March 25, 2009 in Learning From      19 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


Tale of the Tape:

Macon Population 2007: 93,076 (City); 229,846 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1823)

Jacksonville Pop. 2007: 805,605 (City); 1,300,823 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Macon (70,252)

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2007)

Macon: +3.36%
Jacksonville: +15.86%


Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Macon: 135,170 (ranked 203 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)


Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Macon: 1678.5
Jacksonville: 2,149.2


City Population Growth from 2000 to 2007

Macon: -4,179
Jacksonville: +69,988


Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Macon: Macon Centreplex (1968, expanded 1996) - 73,007 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet


Tallest Building:

Macon: St. Joseph's Catholic Church - 200 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Downtown-Based Fortune 500 companies:

Macon: Zero (0)
Jacksonville: CSX (261), Fidelity National Financial (435), Fidelity National Information Services (481)


Urban infill obstacles:

Macon: A railroad and I-16 cut off the riverfront from the rest of the city.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


What does Downtown Macon have that Downtown Jacksonville does not:

Macon:  A state-of-the-art visitors center.
Jacksonville: East Bay Street, located between Main Street and Liberty Street.  This four block stretch is home to four bars and clubs.


Common Downtown Albatross:

Too many surface parking lots


Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Macon: 82 out of 100, according to
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to


Downtown Photo Tour

Photographs taken May 2007.




Unique Macon

- The City of Macon extends into two counties: Bibb and Jones County.

- The city's nickname is the Heart of Georgia.

- Officially named in honor of North Carolina statesman Nathaniel Macon, the city's planners envisioned "a city within a park" and went about creating a city of spacious streets and parks. They also designated 250 acres for Central City Park and citizens were required by ordinances to plant shade trees in their front yards.

- During the Civil War, Macon served as the official arsenal of the Confederacy.

- General William Tecumseh Sherman bypassed Macon on this march to the sea, due to fears that Confederate forces were preparing a unified attack at Macon.

- Macon has been the birthplace or hometown to such musicians as The Allman Brothers Band, Randy Crawford, Mark Heard, Lucille Hegamin, Lena Horne, Otis Redding, Little Richard, R.E.M. and Young Jeezy.

- Macon is known as the "Cherry Blossom Capital of the World."

- Macon is home to 30,000 college students, lagging only behind Athens and Atlanta in college population in Georgia.



College Hill

The College Hill Corridor is a linear corridor weaving together all of our intown neighborhoods.  It begins at Mercer Village across the street from Mercer University's campus on Montpelier Ave. and follows Coleman Ave. and College St. eventually branching off down Washington Ave., Magnolia St. and Georgia Ave. into downtown.  College Hill also includes the College Hill Commons on Washington Ave, a commercial center anchored by Joshua Cup Coffee.


Article by Ennis Davis 



March 25, 2009, 08:00:51 AM
Looks as about as vibrant as our Downtown! I remember when Jax was awarded the Jaguars, some Charlotte newsreporter referred to Jacksonville as Macon with a beach.


March 25, 2009, 08:47:58 AM
That catholic church is absolutely gorgeous.!!   :o


March 25, 2009, 09:26:37 AM
The Catholic Church is awesome. Also like the picture of the empty lot with the lone port-a-potty. When I was reading the stats at the beginning of the article, I was elated that finally there would be a city profile that we could beat, then I saw the photos. Lots of great stuff in Macon and lots of potential. "Macon with a beach" - To be compared to such a smaller city is truly sad.


March 25, 2009, 09:45:16 AM
Macon is an interesting place.  Although still fairly empty, downtown Macon escaped the level of demolition that has taken place here.  So the bones are there, but it still needs a swift kick in the butt to stimulate vibrancy.


March 25, 2009, 10:09:23 AM
Looks as about as vibrant as our Downtown! I remember when Jax was awarded the Jaguars, some Charlotte newsreporter referred to Jacksonville as Macon with a beach.

Ouch! I can take shots from Atlanta and even some of the metropolises to our south, but not Charlotte. They're our rivals!


March 25, 2009, 10:15:43 AM
these pictures must have been taken on a sunday morning


March 25, 2009, 10:17:39 AM
They were taken on a Monday afternoon somewhere around 2 or 3 pm.


March 25, 2009, 10:19:04 AM
In the image above:  Is that red car on the sidewalk!?

Lake, that's been my experience with Macon as well.  Very sleepy town that looks nice (for the most part) but has very little going one.


March 25, 2009, 02:42:53 PM
Macon is a very nice town, but I've gotta admit, I'm pretty ashamed that they're convention center is nearly the same size as ours.


March 25, 2009, 03:19:05 PM
Wonder if in the future, anyone posting photos of other places that have railroad stations, in use, abandoned, recycled or replaced, PLEASE get a shot not only of the street side, but the BUSINESS END TOO!

Talk about learning from or urbanism? We could learn a great deal about "how too" on our own Transportation Center by taking photos of many of these grand old terminals.

As an example, Oklahoma City has restored both of it's large stations. Santa Fe Station near BrickTown is now the Terminal for Amtrak. Union Station, which is larger and arguably more beautiful, has been restored to use as City offices without permanent effecting or altering the interior or exterior design. So you snap a photo of the pretty courtyard or entry... The lessons on Union Station's are to be found BEHIND the building, where the entire yard, boarding platforms, tunnel system, ramps and all have sat abandoned since about 1968.

What Lessons?

How did they get the bags to the baggage room?
Was there a baggage tunnel?
Passengers went into tunnels did ALL passenger trains use those tracks?
Where were the servicing area's located?
Many trains originated or terminated at OKC, how did they supply them?
Where their separate tracks for trains that split or consolidated here?
Where all platforms covered?
Did ticketed passengers have to walk through the concourse?
Did non-ticketed passengers have to walk through the waiting room to buy tickets?
Restaurant? Where? How was it connected?
Staging area for Express? What about vans? Piggyback? LCL?

ETC.. ETC... Just a couple of photos could write volumes for us.

Good lessons, lessons we need in Jacksonville Terminal, Amtrak, St. Augustine, Yukon/NAS, Green Cove Springs, Baldwin, Starke, Alachua, Gainesville...


heights unknown

March 25, 2009, 04:04:04 PM
Ralpho; I know I'm going to get bashed for saying this, but here goes.

People tend to forget that Jacksonville (though I love Jax) is not as big as it portends to be.  The size of our convention center is indicative of the "real size," population wise that Jacksonville really is.

It you wake up to reality, Macon is about the same size of Jacksonville, that is, the population within the pre-consolidated boundaries; roughly around 113,000 people; but we all know that Jax would have annexed additional areas since then had it not consoidated, but still, Jax is not as large as the extended boundaries to the Duval County limits.


March 25, 2009, 05:28:05 PM

Those wide streets and parkways were a dead giveaway... STREETCARS!

If our part of the State of Florida would just show some interest, resolutions of support, etc. we could be riding a new Amtrak route between our Jacksonville Terminal and Macon's Terminal Station. THEY got funding under ISTEA in 2002 to convert this into a retail, office and multi-modal terminal. The rail part has lagged behind because like the FEC deal, Georgia was unable to get Amtrak to do anything under the knife blade of the Republican Party. TIME FOR CHANGE!

For you NAVY boys and girls out there, this was the USS Macon - and LTA AIRCRAFT CARRIER.

The USS MACON today, shows us what she had aboard before they took her out in a Tropical Storm and wrecked her at sea. (Something that wouldn't happen today with modern IFR flight data).



March 25, 2009, 05:37:05 PM

Ock here is a more manageable file size of this photo.


March 25, 2009, 05:51:07 PM
Macon is a nice town, a bedroom community for Atlanta, after all its less than 1 hour from downtown Atlanta. I would equate it to St. Augustine in terms of business growth and development. Tourism is hands down St. Augustine, but then again Macon faces the same issues Atlanta does, no beach, humid in the summer time, but worse, not a lot to do but head to ATL. They don't even rate Amtrak service. Too bad, my wife used to like the Nancy Hanks to ATL from Maconga.


March 25, 2009, 10:57:50 PM
Downtown Macon definitely has good bones. Looks like parts of downtown have recently been streetscaped. Nice blend of old and new. Just get some retail/restaurants up and running downtown and it'll be off to a good start.

heights unknown

April 27, 2009, 07:56:32 AM
Looks like Macon is a town that was on the up and up, and then something happened to stifle it's growth and prosperity.  It does kind of look like Jacksonville "pre-Jaguars." If this is a Monday afternoon, there sure is not much happening; or maybe the photographer took photos of the sleepiest parts of downtown.  Also isn't Macon in a generally remote part of Georgia?  Not much to attract people to that part of Georgia I think.

Heights Unknown


May 19, 2009, 10:17:54 PM
Actually Macon is located close to the geographical heart of Georgia, is only 76 miles southeast of Atlanta, and has I-75 running through it.


May 20, 2009, 06:44:18 PM
If this is a Monday afternoon, there sure is not much happening; or maybe the photographer took photos of the sleepiest parts of downtown.

Have you seen Jacksonville's downtown? Geez, most of it resembles this on anyday.


March 02, 2011, 10:44:51 AM
OK, this is REALLY late, but is St. Joseph's really the tallest structure in Macon? To me, it looks like it would easily be the Fickling & Co. office tower.
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