Historical Bike Tours come to Jacksonville

March 17, 2010 18 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville joins Leigh Burdett and e2ride for a historical bike tour of the Riverside/Avondale Historic District.

Take A Ride Down By The Riverside -.  The Riverside - Avondale  area is one of the wealthiest areas of Jacksonville and popular with those families who prefer to own large old Southern Style homes, with easy access to the river, just next to downtown.  This ride set alongside the St. John’s River sees the tides of change where after the great Jacksonville fire of 1901 it prospered with people moving out of Jacksonville to here, then it decayed in the 50’s and 60’s and now there is rebirth. The richness and variety of homes seen on this ride is remarkable. Architectural gems include Prarie, Georgian, Shingle, Queen Anne/Victorian, Bungalow and Tudor styles and they are in abundance. Free Parking.  Restaurants, shops and an art museum and fishing are available after the ride.

The development of Riverside accelerated soon after a great fire destroyed most of Downtown Jacksonville in 1901, as more and more prominent families migrated to this tranquil setting near Jacksonville along the St. John’s River. With oak-canopied streets and a row of great mansions, Riverside Avenue was admired as the entire city’s most elegant residential street.

Confederate veteran Miles Price sold 500 acres of his property, known as Dell's Bluff, to a Yankee, Edward M. Cheney, and financial backer John M. Forbes of Boston for $10,000 in gold. Forbes and Cheney built grand riverfront homes in 1868 and waited for the influx of residents. For more than 30 years, they remained the only homeowners in the very rural area. It wasn't until the period following the great fire of 1901 that residents left the downtown area. Architects and construction companies from all over the country had flocked to Jacksonville for a unique opportunity, and Riverside benefited greatly. Innovative home designs were commissioned by lumber magnate Wellington W. Cummer and his two sons, Waldo and Arthur, Jacksonville's Mayor J.E.T. Bowden, Col. Raymond Cay and Episcopal Bishop Edwin G. Weed. Homes were designed by Mark & Sheftall, Henry Klutho and Addison Mizner. By 1911, the riverfront on Riverside Avenue was lined with elegant mansions and was called one of the most beautiful streets in America. Riverside lies on the St Johns River just south of Downtown Jacksonville and is home to the historic "Five Points " and "King Street" business districts, with apartment towers along the river and hundreds of large, spacious, turn-of-the-century homes, and even some brick streets. Since the 1970s, the "Riverside/Avondale Preservation District" has guided the rebirth of this late-1900s era neighborhood. Along with Avondale and Ortega, Riverside was originally the home to the wealthiest of Jacksonville families. In the late 1950s & '60s, the area went into decay, with many of those grand old homes being converted into rooming houses. However, after being designated a "National Historic Neighborhood", by the late 1990s, Riverside had recovered, with many homes restored to their original form. The Avondale, Riverside, and Ortega area is popular with those families who prefer to own large old Southern Style homes, with easy access to the river, just next to downtown.

During the peak years of Riverside’s development from 1895 to 1929, a profusion of residential building styles gained popularity across the nation. With the influx of building tradesmen who came to the city after the Great Fire, Riverside became a laboratory for aspiring architects and competing residential fashions. The richness and variety of homes built during this period was remarkable. Prarie, Colonial Revival, Georgian Shingle, Queen Anne/Victorian, Bungalow and Tudor styles were popping up everywhere and and many are still here today.  .

Take a ride down by the riverside of one of North Florida’s most eclectic neighborhoods set along the St. John’s River.  The area boasts some of the most spectacular views of the river, along with charming residential and artsy shop lined streets.  One of the oldest sections of North Florida, Riverside has charm, character and personality.  Neighboring Ortega has the rich beautiful scent of the early Spanish influence.  Free Parking.  Shops, restaurants,an art museum and fishing are available after the ride.

The Riverside/Avondale ride departs roundtrip from the following:

Riverside Avondale Preservation Society

2623 Herschel Street
Jacksonville, FL 32204

Free Parking.  No Tax or Added Fees on Posted Tour Price.


In addition to Riverside/Avondale, e2ride offers bike tours of San Marco, The Beaches, St. Augustine and Amelia Island.

Exciting new historical bike tours of Riverside-Avondale, San Marco, Mandarin the Beaches and Specialty Tours.  You'll relish in the feel of the local flavor and history of these picturesque neighborhoods as you cycle, with the seasonal fauna, abundant wildlife and waterways unfolding around you. Hear the historic tales of those who have come before us, while taking in these scenic areas' riches.  You'll laugh at great stories as you pedal along back roads and sidewalks on our first class guided bicycle tours.  Prepare for a laid back - high energy "put you in a good mood" ride on a comfy seat with a new Trek hybrid bike, a helmet, snacks and everything provided, or bring your own bike and ride along.  You don't need to be Lance Armstrong to ride.  But even he would enjoy these tours.  Flat Terrain good for all level riders.

Individuals, Groups and Corporate Tours. Group discounts available.  All Tours benefit local non-profits.  Reservations in advance.

Click here to check out our Bike Tours, and Reserve tours by calling (904) 945-1571, or online (see Reservations).


Photographs by Ennis Davis and Daniel Herbin