Elements Of Urbanism: 1940s Jacksonville

November 16, 2010 33 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Ever wonder what Jacksonville would look like if downtown were full of buildings, people and retail spilling onto the streets? A visit to this city gives us a glimpse into the look of downtown vibrancy.

Tale of the Tape:


Jacksonville Pop. 1940: 173,065 (City); 210,143(Duval County)

Jacksonville Pop. 2009: 813,518 (City); 1,328,144(Duval County)

City Land Area:

1940 Jacksonville: 30.2 square miles

2010 Jacksonville: 767 square miles

City Population Density:

1940 Jacksonville: 5,731/square mile

2010 Jacksonville: 1,061/square mile

Tallest Building:

1940 Jacksonville: Barnett Bank Building - 224 feet

2010 Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Urban development obstacles:

1940 Jacksonville: Congestion & Racism

2010 Jacksonville: Abandonment & Homelessness

Common Downtown Albatross:

An underutilized waterfront

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

1940 Jacksonville by a landslide.

A visual comparison

Green = Jacksonville's city limits from the 1930s up the the 1968 consolidation
Red = Jacksonville's current consolidated city-county limits

Governor Holland motorcade at the Main Street Bridge opening in 1941

One is immediately met with density when entering downtown Jacksonville from the Main Street bridge.

Full of life and heavy traffic, Main Street is the city's major north south arterial.

Armistice Day Parade along Adams Street in 1944.

Left: Kress and Walgreens anchor the intersection of Main & Adams Streets. Right: An aerial view of Forsyth Street looking towards the Lynch Building.

Forsyth Street

Home to major financial institutions, such as Barnett Bank, Atlantic Bank and Heard Bank, Forsyth Street is a major downtown activity center.

Jacksonville's City Hall anchors the corner of Forsyth & Ocean Streets.

The architecturally impressive Duval County Courthouse at Forsyth & Market Streets.

Bay Street

A block south of Forsyth, Bay Street is a dividing line between downtown retail and maritime related industry.

This railyard serves several wharfs just south of Bay Street.

The Acosta Bridge was the first automobile bridge across the St. Johns River, providing a direct connection between the downtown and the recently annexed City of South Jacksonville.

The intersection of Hogan and State Streets.  Hogan Street is one of several direct connections between Springfield and downtown.

This Adams Street scene indicates that the city is not immune from flooding.

Downtown Aerials

Downtown Jacksonville is very impressive from the air.  The amount of building fabric would make one believe that this city is located somewhere north of the Mason Dixon line.

Downtown Jacksonville of the 1940's seems like a place full of life and energy. Over the decade, this 30.2 square mile urban city added 31,452 residents and increased in density to 6,772 people per sqaure mile.  One can only imagine the bright future in store for this walkable city 70 years from now.

Article by Ennis Davis