Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
 

The Myrtle Avenue Subway

Many years have passed since the last streetcar ran down Jacksonville's streets. Although most of the infrastructure associated with Jacksonville's streetcar system no longer exists, if one looks hard enough, a little history can be found.

Published March 24, 2009 in History      21 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

The Myrtle Avenue Subway, opening up another convenient passage to the Riverside and Highway districts, has recently been accepted from the contractors by the city.  This will give the company a new line to this territory, which we hope will be in operation within the present year.

Stone & Webster Public Service Journal, Vol. 4 page 419 January-June 1909

This streetcar line down Bay Street once used the Myrtle Avenue Subway to provide access to booming Westside streetcar suburbs like North Riverside, Murray Hill and Lackawanna. 

 

Sec. 1722. Consideration.-It is a condition and consideration for the granting by the City of the privileges hereby granted that the Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company, will, at its own expense, widen Forsyth Street between Cleveland and Jefferson Streets, making the south side of Forsyth Street a straight line from a point sixty (60) feet south of the north-west corner of Forsyth and Jefferson Streets, to a point sixty (60) feet south of the north-east corner of Cleveland and Forsyth streets, and will open and extend Forsyth Street, from Cleveland Street to Myrtle Avenue to a uniform width of sixty (60) feet, and will dedicate the land necessary for the widening and extension of Forsyth Street.

And as a further consideration said Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company will, whenever required by City Ordinance, construct and maintain a subway under or a viaduct over its tracks on Bay Street to connect with any subway or viaduct crossing under or over the Jacksonville Terminal Company's tracks on Myrtle Avenue, such viaduct or subway to be constructed and maintained in compliance with the provisions of City Ordinance, and whenever the city shall have Forsyth Street paved between Jefferson Street and Myrtle Avenue, said company shall pay the proportion of the cost thereof charageable to its property, and also the part of such cost payable as the City's one-third of such cost; and as a further consideration said Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company shall provide a foot bridge, or viaduct, along Davis Street above and over the tracks crossing said street as agreed upon by the Board of Public Works. (Id.2.)

http://fulltextt10.fcla.edu/DLData/NF/NF00000189/00817.pdf

 

The Myrtle Avenue Subway can be located in the center of this image, where the tracks in the railyard converge. 


 

This image was taken on top of the Myrtle Avenue Subway. 

 



The Myrtle Avenue Subway can be seen in the lower left section of this image. 
 

The Myrtle Avenue Overpass carries I-95 over Myrtle Avenue and a railroad line in downtown Jacksonville. The main, steel arch span of the overpass is 386 feet long. There are 16 steel girder approach spans that bring the total length to over 1,400 feet in length. This bridge represents Florida's only steel arch, the state's only through arch carrying interstate traffic, and the only arch design serving as a grade separation. It was identified in an update to Florida's historic highway bridge inventory, and, as a result, the FDOT and the Florida SHPO concurred that this bridge represents a significant historic resource for the state.

www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/final_task4ListFinal.pdf

 

Myrtle Avenue heading north toward the subway and overpass.

 

The Myrtle Avenue Subway Today

The track and streetcars are long gone, but some of the supporting infrastructure remains.


 










The incorporation of the Myrtle Avenue Subway and tunnel lighting effects could make the proposed streetcar system an attraction itself.

The opening of streetcar service with this structure served as a critical connection between Downtown Jacksonville and the booming streetcar suburbs of Lackawanna, Murray Hill and North Riverside.  The incorporation of this significant historical urban element into JTA's current streetcar plans could directly link a new line with the original one.

Article by Ennis Davis








21 Comments

fsujax

March 24, 2009, 07:54:00 AM
Nice historical perspective.

billy

March 24, 2009, 08:08:01 AM
Very similar in appearance and structure to the Krog Street tunnel between Cabbagetown and
Inman Park/Old Fourth Ward  in Atlanta.

No graffiti though.

Deuce

March 24, 2009, 09:04:12 AM
Love that last image. It makes me want to dance in the street! If only the rest of the city had vision of that scale. Sigh...

YellowBluffRoad

March 24, 2009, 10:20:55 AM
Interesting. Growing up here in the 70s, I always heard it called the Myrtle Avenue Viaduct. Never knew it was part of a former subway. My father used to work at a company on Jefferson and when we'd pick him up from work, I'd beg my parents to drive through there. Often they'd humor me and put the car in neutral and rev the engine and honk the horn through there (if there wasn't too much traffic). At one point it was threatened to be closed permanently, and I am glad they've kept it open all these years.

stjr

March 24, 2009, 12:06:15 PM
What?!  No pictures of the hundreds of cars that have been submerged under there after heavy summer rains?  That is its modern day claim to fame  ;D

P.S. As seen in one of your pictures, there was also an overhead track around the corner on Bay Street at one time.  I also recall that Railway Express was where JTA HQ's is now currently.  Any pictures of their operations?

mtraininjax

March 25, 2009, 06:09:28 PM
Quote
P.S. As seen in one of your pictures, there was also an overhead track around the corner on Bay Street at one time.  I also recall that Railway Express was where JTA HQ's is now currently.  Any pictures of their operations?

Actually, according to my details I picked up from the Railroadiana show in February, where the JTA sits now used to be a roundhouse for the Atlantic Coast Line. Seaboard was out in Baldwin.

stjr

March 26, 2009, 10:48:32 PM
Here is a 1962 track diagram of the tracks over the Myrtle Avenue Subway which is clearly marked on the drawing.  (Go to the web link below for a zoom in of the area.):

Quote
1962 Track diagram of the Jacksonville Terminal on left and Myrtle Avenue Tower and yard on right.
View from above and from Northerly direction, South is top of diagram.



See more including a roundhouse diagram at:
  http://www.flarr.com/jtc4.htm

Ocklawaha

March 26, 2009, 11:39:26 PM
Quote
P.S. As seen in one of your pictures, there was also an overhead track around the corner on Bay Street at one time.  I also recall that Railway Express was where JTA HQ's is now currently.  Any pictures of their operations?

Actually, according to my details I picked up from the Railroadiana show in February, where the JTA sits now used to be a roundhouse for the Atlantic Coast Line. Seaboard was out in Baldwin.

Y'all are BOTH RIGHT. The Roundhouse was back between the end of Bay and TTX. The LARGEST RAILWAY EXPRESS TERMINAL IN THE WORLD, was situated about where the center office building in the JTA complex is. This is not the office directly on Myrtle, but the one farther back. It was a HEAD Station with a Head House and all stub tracks backed in from the "S" line, they trailed off to the north toward Beaver Street.

I've got photos of both someplace, when I'm going through my stuff again, I'll scan and post a few. BTW the passenger station had 29 tracks and the Express Station had 32. The Terminal Company and Express Company wrote about a million letters back and forth with regards to the quicker breakdown of Express cars in and out of trains. I've got a handfull of those old letters. I also recall that Mercury Outboards was a MAJOR customer at REA. There was also a firm that shipped lots of florescent light bulbs in huge boxes with a sort of honey comb pattern.

The Jacksonville Terminal Company also switched the ATLANTIC AND EAST COAST TERMINAL COMPANY tracks up to the old Freight station North of Jacksonville Terminal. This is what the Bay street underpass was all about. The A&EC was all over a number of downtown streets in La Villa. The JTCO switchers were EMD products (GM) and were painted Orange with Green and Gold on them.


OCKLAWAHA

stjr

March 26, 2009, 11:50:05 PM
Ock, here is a bit more from: http://www.jacksonvilleterminal.com/history.htm

Quote
The US Post Office had a large complex with loading platforms just north of the Terminal. Around the curve towards the Seaboard, REA had a very massive yard area with office buildings and loading platforms. Freight operations included feed mills, icehouses, A&P, Florida Machine, Florida Rag and others over the years. The Terminal also had a very large coach yard and roundhouse facility.

The following from: 
http://www.jacksonvilleterminal.com/railway_express_agency.htm

Quote
Railway Express Agency

     In 1929 69 railroads created the Railway Express Agency. It was formed from famous companies such as the Wells Fargo Inc, American Express Co., and Southern Express Co. just to name a few. These latter companies were formed into the American Railway Express Co. during WWI while under federal government control. In 1920 its was deemed to split this company back to its original companies. It was then approved by the ICC to continue operation as the American Railway Express but urged the railroads to begin operating their own express business.

    Railway Express was much like today’s UPS. Virtually everything was shipped by REA as “LCL” (less than car load) or a full carload. Fruit, fish, flowers, bicycles, coffins, zoo animals, pets, racehorse’s motion picture film, anything and everything.  Most all passenger trains carried same form of Express. Most all-secondary trains were for the purpose of express service while the 1st class trains ran through, and they too may have some express business.

    Jacksonville had a big roll with Railway Express. It is believed that Jacksonville’s facility was the largest in the country with a capacity for 250 cars. Equipped with a modern covered loading / unloading platform with multiple tracks, office space and loading/ unloading docks for trucks in front. A large storage yard was needed with around the clock terminal crews pulling and spotting express baggage, express box and express reefers.

    REA as it later became to be known, was not limited to railroads. Air Service and Trucks also played part in their service. In the early 1960’s Southern was the first railroad in our area to discontinue using REA. An attempt was made to replace Southern’s system wide traffic by using trucks. In 1962 REA opened its last but modern terminal in Savannah Georgia served by the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railroads.  REA also attempted using express containerized vans on flat cars. To compete with other modes of transportation REALCO was formed as a trailer leasing pool. Railway traffic had reduced system wide and by the early 1970’s terminals were closed, Jacksonville was no exception and by 1975 REA was history. 

riverside_mail

March 27, 2009, 07:13:15 AM
I'm assuming the streetcars went through the middle arch of the subway. Any reason they put the big concrete barrier down the middle where the tracks used to be?

thelakelander

March 27, 2009, 08:56:58 AM
Here is an aerial showing the old A&EC tracks heading into LaVilla.

thelakelander

March 27, 2009, 09:02:33 AM
The A&EC terminal on the corner of Forysth & Jefferson in 1950.  If we would not have been so tear down happy in the 1970s, this would have been a perfect facility for a farmer's market or marketplace.



A few remaining warehouses along Houston Street will old rail siding loading docks.





Ocklawaha

March 27, 2009, 10:18:59 AM
I'm assuming the streetcars went through the middle arch of the subway. Any reason they put the big concrete barrier down the middle where the tracks used to be?

You are correct. The streetcars went through the center of the subway. Keep in mind the streetcar is generally a much larger vehicle then the city bus, and it needs an overhead clearence of at least 16' min.. The clearence from the pavement to the top of the streetcar tunnel is only 10' feet today. This suggests that the car tracks were 6' feet below the pavement level. I have a book of engineering notes for the subway which has a short statement about depressing Bay and Myrtle at the intersection so the streetcar could line up with the short steep downgrade.

Also all you flooding tunnel buffs out there might want to consider that as the tracks were much deeper then the current pavement, guess where the original drains and pumps were? Had to be about 10' under the concrete barrier in the center.


OCKLAWAHA

leahfu

April 18, 2009, 11:57:56 PM
After the privilege of riding through the tunnel(if it could be called that) last year I wondered what the history of it was. I didn't think it was this neat :)

I just remember when we went through it, I was like "Woah this is awesome!". I know it might sound a little cheesy or something. But it was just something I never expected to be there.

LPBrennan

March 20, 2010, 10:30:40 AM
Despite the warning signs of low clearance, oversize vehicles still get stuck there. Yesterday (March 19, 2010) about 5 pm I was driving south on Myrtle and through the subway, when I saw a police car blocking the northbound side. Looking back, I saw a large aluminum box- either a truck or trailer- stuck rather far in. There was a large tow-truck waiting there for the duty ahead. Unfortunately, no camera with me to record same.
The concrete structure blocking the former streetcar lane is a box culvert.

Ocklawaha

March 20, 2010, 06:15:31 PM
Quote
P.S. As seen in one of your pictures, there was also an overhead track around the corner on Bay Street at one time.  I also recall that Railway Express was where JTA HQ's is now currently.  Any pictures of their operations?

Actually, according to my details I picked up from the Railroadiana show in February, where the JTA sits now used to be a roundhouse for the Atlantic Coast Line. Seaboard was out in Baldwin.

Actually, the ACL facilities were out at Moncrief Yard, the Roundhouse and shop complex downtown was owned and operated by The Jacksonville Terminal Company.  

JTCO also served as home to the Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Railroad which owned all of the tracks north of Bay and East of Myrtle-Davis-Cleveland Streets. A&EC wasn't a big railroad, it joined the JTCO at Myrtle Interlocking (under I-95 today) and ran north over Bay Street on a bridge. The abutment of the south side of that bridge are still visible from Bay Street. It ran east to west down the middle of several streets, into the edge of downtown. They also operated the huge blocks long Between the 60's and 80's, that sea of medium sized industry moved away from downtown, and finally with the redevelopment of the so-called "Prime Osbourne" the A&ECT was errased.

If you'd like to see what the unique A&ECT looked like, take a drive just off Myrtle, and head west on Dennis Street. After crossing the tracks on Dennis Street make a left on Watt's Street to either Harper or Swan, both of which are identical twins of the old A&ECT. If your tempted to try model railroading, I can't imagine a better prototype for a small space, switching layout then the A&ECT.


In the foreground are the tracks of the Jacksonville Terminal Company, just to the right of the new FREEway bridge one can spot Bay Street ducking under the A&ECT RY.

It's easy to spot the REA Terminal with it's 32 stub tracks (largest express station in the world) which sits square on top of JTA's facility of today.  To the left of the REA Station is the JTCO roundhouse, shops, offices, and the railroads tank farm.  The track between the REA station and the JTCO Roundhouse is the former "S" line, given to the city and abandoned. TTX sits where the JTCO facilities once stood. The ACL and the SOUTHERN ran up the West side of the JTCO facility, as today the NS and the CSX run on those same tracks today. The yard where JTCO allowed passenger cars to be stored, and cleaned was called Honeymoon Yard, perhaps for the sea of sleeping cars that once stood there.



Note the COAL TOWER on the point just below the REA STATION, the tracks from the roundhouse would have ran right under it on the way out. It's gone in the newer view (TOP PHOTO) and the lead track is bare.




OCKLAWAHA

LPBrennan

March 21, 2010, 11:30:25 AM
The A&ECT was jointly owned by the ACL and FEC (thus the Atlantic & East Coast) and operated a large freight house that filled the area between Jefferson, Forsyth, Stuart and Bay streets. There was a large concrete ramp for automobile loading on the west end between Stuart and Lee. Stuart did not go through, but an elevated stairway allowed pedestrians to cross the tracks. The building was U-shaped, with a three story office building facing Jefferson, and a multi-bayed extension on each side of four tracks in the middle. The FEC's wing was on the south facing Bay; the ACL used the north side facing Forsyth. Arched doorways allowed truck access to the street side and railroad access to the tracks. The Gateway Model Railroad Club was housed in the two westernmost bays on the Forsyth wing for several years in the mid-Seventies, after moving from our original space in the old Pullman offices on the second floor of the Jacksonville Terminal building- on the north side, adjacent to Bay Street.
There was a fire in the office end of the freighthouse several years after we moved in. I was downtown and saw the smoke, and, with my heart in my throat, drove as close as I could to see if it involved our space. After the fire, the south wing was torn down, as was the office section, and the SCL closed off the east end with a blank wall. By then the building was being used mostly for storage and damaged freight. On Friday nights when we met to work on the layout, we would open both freight doors for ventilation in warm weather, and on a few occasions a switching locomotive would stop at our door. The crew would come in to look at our trains, and we would go out and look at theirs!
We learned that the building was to be razed, and the Club moved on to the West Bay Post Office Annex.

BigBlackRod

July 15, 2013, 09:17:31 PM
Homer G. Lindsay and First Baptist Church are the chief culprits in the demise of Downtown. They couldn't stand to see people having adult fun...

stephendare

July 15, 2013, 09:49:04 PM
Homer G. Lindsay and First Baptist Church are the chief culprits in the demise of Downtown. They couldn't stand to see people having adult fun...

Thats a weird thing to claim.

JayBird

July 15, 2013, 10:05:53 PM
Homer G. Lindsay and First Baptist Church are the chief culprits in the demise of Downtown. They couldn't stand to see people having adult fun...

As long as First Baptist Church is in power, there will not be any viable nightlife in this city...PEACE.

Seem to be forming a pattern here. Care to elaborate a little? I happen to enjoy Mavericks, Dos Gatos, and Marks ... if it is Big Mac's mission to ruin downtown nightlife, he is failing.

If_I_Loved_you

July 15, 2013, 10:53:35 PM
The First Baptist Church Haters are very  :( people. I hope FBC is in Downtown Jacksonville Florida till the end of times. It's a great church with a lot of good people. Too the church haters in general why don't you stop bye and listen to what the church has to say. Your Welcome even if you don't believe in God.  :)
View forum thread
Welcome Guest. You must be logged in to comment on this story.

What are the benefits of having a MetroJacksonville.com account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on stories that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on all of the latest issues affecting your neighborhood.
  • Create a network of friends working towards a better Jacksonville.
Register now
Already have an account? Login now to comment.