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Census 2010: Urban Jacksonville In Decline

A look at the rise and fall of the Urban Core's population with the help of pre-consolidation city limit maps and 2010 census tract results.

Published March 31, 2011 in News      37 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

The original city limit boundaries of 1832 consisted of the Bay Street riverfront and the Cathedral District.

In 1842, the city's boundaries extended north along Hogans Creek and west to Clay Street.  The city would remain this size until the annexation of 1887.

1850 Census - 1,045

1860 Census - 2,118

1870 Census - 6,912

1880 Census - 7,650

A historic aerial of Pensacola

The 1880 Census would show that Jacksonville replaced Pensacola as Florida's largest city.

In 1887, several suburbs were annexed into Jacksonville.  They included LaVilla, Brooklyn, Riverside, Springfield, Durkeeville, East Jacksonville, Fairfield and Oakland.

1890 Census - 17,201

1900 Census - 28,429

1910 Census - 57,699

In 1919, the city expanded north to Long Branch Creek and Moncrief Park.  An expansion to the west also bought a portion of Avondale into the city limits.

1920 Census - 91,558

The annexation of 1925 would be Jacksonville's largest until consolidation.  Panama Park, Ortega, Moncrief Park and the city of Murray Hill were included in this expansion.

1930 Census - 129,549

There were several small scale expansions of the city limits during the 1930s.  These included annexations of the Ostrich farm property in 1931 and the city of South Jacksonville in 1932.  Jacksonville's land area would remain the same size until consolidation.

1940 Census - 173,065

Downtown Miami around the time the city became Florida's largest.

With 172,172 residents, the City of Miami was right on Jacksonville's heels in 1940.  By 1950, Miami became Florida's largest city with 249,276 residents.

1950 Census - 204,275

Downtown Tampa in 1960.

During this decade, the old city would peak and begin to decline in population.  In the middle of a boom, the city of Tampa would pass Jacksonville in population with 274,970 residents by 1960.  St. Petersburg, Tampa's neighbor across the bay, would come close with 181,298 residents.

1960 Census - 201,031

The declining city merged with Duval County in 1968, helping mask the problems of the decaying Inner City and regain the status of Florida's largest city.  Downtown's darkest days would occur in the decades to follow but high suburban growth rates would hide the urban core's rapid population loss.

1970 Census - 528,865

1980 Census - 540,920

1990 Census - 635,230

2000 Census - 735,503

2010 Census estimate - 821,784

While the official 2010 census records show Jacksonville with an impressive 11.7% growth rate, a look at census tract records reveal a completely different story.

Jacksonville's current inner city census tracts are nearly identical to the pre-consolidated city boundaries from the 1940 census.  


2010 Census City Population: 821,784

2010 Old City Census Tract Population: 104,047


2000 Census City Population: 735,503

2000 Old City Census Tract Population: 112,753

1950 Old City Population: 204,517

Net Urban Core Loss (1950 - 2000): -91,764

Net Urban Core Loss (1950 - 2010): -100,470


2010 Census City Population Density: 821,784 / 758.7 square miles = 1,083

2010 Old City Census Tract Density: 104,047 / 30.2 square miles = 3,445


2000 Census City Population Density: 735,503 / 758.7 square miles = 969

2000 Old City Census Tract Density: 112,753 / 30.2 square miles = 3,734

1950 Old City Population Density: 204,517 / 30.2 square miles = 6,772

Net Urban Core Loss (1950 - 2000): - 3,038 residents per mile

Net Urban Core Loss (1950 - 2010): - 3,327 residents per mile



2010 census tract results.  The old preconsolidated city limit boundaries are shown in red.




2010 census tract results. The old preconsolidated city limit boundaries are shown in red.

These numbers show that our urban core's population loss during the last decade was very similar to older industrial cities such as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Birmingham.  The associated census tract graphic (see above) indicates that the majority of early automobile oriented neighborhoods are also in decline.  These numbers also show that the Urban Core has the infrastructure in place to support twice as many residents than live there today.

As Jacksonville continues to deal with sprawl, congestion, limited road expansion funds and higher gas and energy costs, our focus on growth needs to shift back to the area that is already laid out to support higher densities.

Article by Ennis Davis






37 Comments

Captain Zissou

March 31, 2011, 09:44:32 AM
Absolutely Excellent!!

What a straightforward presentation of the facts about the decay of our urban core.  There's no denying the exodus that has occurred since the fifties from the city center. Rather than destroy more wetlands or forests, develop what we already have.  That's the greenest choice, that's the long term cheapest choice, it's the healthiest choice, and by far the smartest choice.

Thanks Ennis

jcjohnpaint

March 31, 2011, 09:59:14 AM
Thank You.. wonderful article once again.  I feel that this should be on the front of voter's minds!

Jimmy

March 31, 2011, 10:13:48 AM
Nicely done and well laid out.  We have an election coming up that will, in part, help determine which direction Jacksonville will head in.  Will we continue to flee the core for the Duval suburbs or the exurbs of the surrounding counties?  Or get back on track in Jacksonville proper?

Well, one candidate has his HQ in the urban core.  And the other outside of the pre-consolidation city limits.  Just a data point.

Ocklawaha

March 31, 2011, 10:34:38 AM
I agree, (from WGV no less) downtown is the way of the future. But we'll NEVER sell it to the voters that brought us Rick Scott by telling them it's "green" or "sustainable" or even "quality of life."   We need a new pitch for people who's only interest is how cheaply they can live. The classic NIMBY, these folks don't give a damn if their park has a playground, if the school has a bus, or if the air conditioner's at the school or city hall function. "Hell when we were kids we lived in public housing, we had no air conditioner, or playground and we had to walk to school...30 miles...barefoot...on a Florida beach, and by God these tree hugging kids aren't getting another dime."  (sound familiar?)  "Give us a freeway to get out of town on as fast as possible and don't confuse us with big words like sustainable."

Most readers of this site understand the economics of dense urban development, if we are ever going to convince these people that parks are better then streets, we need a new tune.


OCKLAWAHA

finehoe

March 31, 2011, 11:52:09 AM
Thanks for confirming the point I was making here: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,11650.msg212352.html#msg212352

Wacca Pilatka

March 31, 2011, 12:23:00 PM
Great article, Lake, as always (and great pictures!).

It'd be interesting to compare Jacksonville's core losses to those over a similar period in other cities that consolidated, such as Louisville, Nashville, and Indianapolis.  I'm sure Nashville's core has fared better due to the colleges and the tremendous recent development connecting the colleges and downtown, but I'm not sure Louisville or Indianapolis' cores have fared much better since their respective consolidations (despite their more vibrant downtown areas).

I strongly agree with this article's points and conclusions, but in one small bit of fairness to Jacksonville, the pre-consolidated city is only about 32 square miles IIRC.  Some of the cities to which we are comparing these core losses have substantially larger land areas - that is to say, room for suburban, Southside-type developments within their boundaries - and still have sustained significant losses.  E.g. Birmingham is 150 square miles; Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Baltimore are each about 80.  An 80-to-150 square mile Jacksonville (assuming a roughly circular locale with its center at the corner of Bay and Main) would not have suffered as dire of a proportionate loss as the 32-square-mile pre-consolidated city.  Of course, on the other hand, Miami is only something like 34 square miles and experienced less decline, and now is seeing population growth.

thelakelander

March 31, 2011, 12:32:09 PM
I left out any type of comparision that would put up our core against cities with ample room for suburban growth.  The only point I wanted to make was that we have significant problems of underutilization, blight and population loss that is being masked by heavy suburban growth.  Nationwide, I'm sure the same could be said for many communities.  However, the 50% decrease in density and population over the last 60 years also means this area is ripe with opportunity.  We just have to take advantage of it.

buckethead

March 31, 2011, 12:32:44 PM
Urban living has many qualities. Cul-de-sac communities truly are a dead end. HOA fees, administered by busy body transplants, yard comittees, nasty-grams from the property manager because you changed your flowerbeds without approval...

The suburbs suck. I know, I'm living it.

Daddy's coming home as soon as possible. Let those others wish they had gotten back in at the right time. I missed my chance in Riverside. I won't make that mistake again.

There is a historic neighborhood that is priced to benefit those with vision. Downtown is ripe as well, along with Brooklyn and La Villa. Have you guys seen the asking prices for lots lately?

It really is a no brainer.

One big problem is the public schools. Some are better than others, but if you home school, it is not an issue.

Those who move back into the core now, (and buy more property) will be counted among the fortunate/visionary in a few short years.



Wacca Pilatka

March 31, 2011, 12:37:06 PM
I left out any type of comparision that would put up our core against cities with ample room for suburban growth.  The only point I wanted to make was that we have significant problems of underutilization, blight and population loss that is being masked by heavy suburban growth.  Nationwide, I'm sure the same could be said for many communities.  However, the 50% decrease in density and population over the last 60 years also means this area is ripe with opportunity.  We just have to take advantage of it.

No doubt about it.  It's the fiscally conservative thing to do.  It's the common sense thing to do.  It's the way to renew a city's identity, history, and pride.

danem

March 31, 2011, 12:39:34 PM
I agree, (from WGV no less) downtown is the way of the future. But we'll NEVER sell it to the voters that brought us Rick Scott by telling them it's "green" or "sustainable" or even "quality of life."   We need a new pitch for people who's only interest is how cheaply they can live. The classic NIMBY, these folks don't give a damn if their park has a playground, if the school has a bus, or if the air conditioner's at the school or city hall function. "Hell when we were kids we lived in public housing, we had no air conditioner, or playground and we had to walk to school...30 miles...barefoot...on a Florida beach, and by God these tree hugging kids aren't getting another dime."  (sound familiar?)  "Give us a freeway to get out of town on as fast as possible and don't confuse us with big words like sustainable."

Most readers of this site understand the economics of dense urban development, if we are ever going to convince these people that parks are better then streets, we need a new tune.


OCKLAWAHA

Two key words/phrases that should help more are "jobs" and "high gas prices".

thelakelander

March 31, 2011, 01:08:02 PM
For some reason, I'd suspect most who live in St. Johns and Clay Counties could care less about the urban core of a city in a different county being drained for economic opportunities in their communities.  

north miami

March 31, 2011, 01:37:03 PM


  There's no denying the exodus that has occurred since the fifties from the city center. Rather than destroy more wetlands or forests, develop what we already have.  That's the greenest choice, that's the long term cheapest choice, it's the healthiest choice, and by far the smartest choice.


But that's what we already done did- massive regional sprawl,conversion of open lands,working landscapes, wetland impacts all of course under the steady hand of growth management,mitigation as hordes scrambled for an alternative.(And predicted in the then Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council report on anticipated Ag Lands loss----staff person Coralie Chronister;published in the 1970's....)
Visions such as the Northeast Florida Timberlands Reserve born of the Delaney Green Era still languish relative to the early potential,so easily let loose under the radar screen,as was the Little Black Creek/Ortega McGirts valley-a process that even sucked in the Trust for Public Lands 1800 acre Brannon Chaffee parcel.
The Beltway emerged as if by magic- nothing other than the natural course of a four decade boomer booster narrative born of a different season.Our recent collective"Water Wars" focus on evil Central Florida over growth is the latest proof of our propensity towards myopic vision,which is really about awareness,of which there is little.
In addition to the growth wave already evident,clearly visible to the naked eye there is a bunch vested but yet unseen, guaranteeing not only unfolding growth impacts but also substantial inventory to drive and supply Jax Core alternative driver trends for years.
High gas prices???The 'commute' always was rediculous and costly entailing profound internal and external costs.This current round of escalating fuel prices a bonafide drag on Bedroom Communities nation wide.In our regional case,anticipate the outlying counties will foster employment centers (more Growth!) rather than a look backward towards Duval. This is already evident in the trend towards off core office parks.......and in recently adopted "Sector Plans" and other evidence of handing our head to us on a silver platter.
It's been a frankly militant anti Duval theme employed by the surrounding counties,and in the case of outlying Duval areas,a militant anti Core theme.

The saving grace for the Core,if there is any, will be the inevitable march of the surrounding "Better Places" towards becoming the very "Bad" they sold and promoted against.After all,the truly Best locations were pioneered in the beginning.

north miami

March 31, 2011, 06:20:31 PM
But wait!!!
As reported in Carl Hiaasen's definitive compilation of his hardest hitting Miami Herald editorials ("Kick Ass" -'Jacksonville's Millionth Mania';North Miami quoted) did we not in fact celebrate Jacksonville's Millionth resident?? Barnett bank sponsored "Millionth Mania",fire works ****down town****.
Of course,turns out "Jacksonville's" 'millionth' resident was imported,smuggled,wrapped in fudged numbers-only by including surrounding county's could we lift "Jacksonville" to that coveted over population bench mark.
And indeed the newcommers steered clear of the Core if not Duval all together.But Duval played the Chump,a Cornerstone for sure!!Who knows,maybe a 'non group' was conjuring up Consolidation of the entire First Coast.(After all,the first crack at Duval Consolidation ,even entailing legislative action and public vote was in the 1920's)

As Carl noted in his piece,the red neck Millionth Mania certainly thwarted interest in Jackonville for many astute,a brilliant plot to depromote,and Carl's guess that "it will probably work" was prophetic.

spuwho

March 31, 2011, 07:37:40 PM
I wish we could stop promoting the urban core redevelopment without making suburban life seem immoral. There were reasons many people wanted to leave the urban cores across the country in the 1950's. This is America after all, and people can live where they choose. We should focus on how to make the core desirable again. Everyone has their wishes, urban, suburban, exurban or rural. Create an environment that is desirable, and stop painting it like some form of unethical conduct.

stephendare

March 31, 2011, 08:45:04 PM
I wish we could stop promoting the urban core redevelopment without making suburban life seem immoral. There were reasons many people wanted to leave the urban cores across the country in the 1950's. This is America after all, and people can live where they choose. We should focus on how to make the core desirable again. Everyone has their wishes, urban, suburban, exurban or rural. Create an environment that is desirable, and stop painting it like some form of unethical conduct.

Well there was a legal push to drive them out of the cities as well, spuwho.

It just wasnt possible to build for density after the war.

Zoning laws were implemented across the country for the express purpose of suburbanizing.

I-10east

March 31, 2011, 08:47:35 PM
I wish we could stop promoting the urban core redevelopment without making suburban life seem immoral. There were reasons many people wanted to leave the urban cores across the country in the 1950's. This is America after all, and people can live where they choose. We should focus on how to make the core desirable again. Everyone has their wishes, urban, suburban, exurban or rural. Create an environment that is desirable, and stop painting it like some form of unethical conduct.

+1000

buckethead

March 31, 2011, 09:10:58 PM
I agree somewhat. It really doesn't have to come down to suburbanites being evil, or stupid. I don't believe it is the case.

From a viewpoint of sustainability, be it environmental or fiscal, denser development brings more bang for the buck. Bigger sewage and drainage, but far less length. same goes for water, electrical, cable, roads, gas, shopping, etc.

Mass transit brings more bang for the buck. It burns less fuel per carcass. How much roadway does it take to accommodate 81 drivers in a 300' stretch? Now look at those same 81 cabooses planted firmly on a streetcar. 12' wide corridor, loaded and moving with priority. Ex drivers are now banging on the blackberry.

City living is fun, interesting and full of vigor. Visit our big US cities (some are better than others). Imagine some of those attributes you enjoy there, right here.

Suburbs are fine, but when the reality is that for many years, private land owners have used local and state political connections to have infrastructure built to and on their property in an effort to increase it's value, we need to rethink.

I don't imagine most people consider these things when they buy a home. I confess, I did not.

More than any other source, MJ has me thinking about the issue of municipal responsibility and how each citizen is part of that municipality. (Therefore each of us are responsible for the decisions made, collectively and individually. One size does not fit all. Results may vary.)



thelakelander

March 31, 2011, 09:14:40 PM
There is nothing wrong with sustainable suburban development. We just need to discourage the style that's bankrupting the city.

Wacca Pilatka

March 31, 2011, 09:28:48 PM
I don't mean to come off as making suburban life sound immoral.  I live a suburban existence in Grafton, Virginia myself, and I do understand that some urbanists can sometimes come off, inappropriately and snobbishly, as making suburbanites sound like irredeemable morons ("Little Boxes" et passim).  But I do think that it's woefully fiscally irresponsible for a city to create development conditions and policies that encourage expensive and wasteful sprawl while essentially punishing anyone trying to work, live, play, or start a business in the core city.  Such circumstances threaten the city's bottom line as well as its preservation of history, sense of place and pride, and essential character.  This is what is and has been happening in Jacksonville.

I-10east

March 31, 2011, 09:42:46 PM
Somebody answer this question; What if a new suburban subdivision (like the new one on Sunbeam) is actually successful in the future? What if it doesn't have a whole bunch of 'now availables' in it? MJ's typical way of thinking either way it's a 'lose lose' situation. If it's successful, they are taking people away from DT housing, and of course if it flops then that's adding fuel to the fire.

rainfrog

March 31, 2011, 10:15:22 PM
For what it's worth, given everything else as a constant, I've estimated that Jacksonville's core population today would only be somewhere between 150,000-160,000 had its loss been attributed solely to the shrinkage of the national average household size since 1950.

Food for thought...

I-10east

March 31, 2011, 10:33:50 PM
IMO true urban Jax is not being fully represented here. Old neigborhoods with block style residential housing (like Paxon for example) is not the suburbs. True 'suburbs' are places like Argyle Forest. Jax has plenty of urbanity outside of just the DT area, Springfield, Avondale, and Riverside that does not seem to be represented for whatever reason.

urbanlibertarian

April 01, 2011, 12:26:09 PM

Well there was a legal push to drive them out of the cities as well, spuwho.

It just wasnt possible to build for density after the war.

Zoning laws were implemented across the country for the express purpose of suburbanizing.

You're on to something here, Stephen.  Let's eliminate zoning in all the urban core neighborhoods! ;)

stephendare

April 01, 2011, 12:37:49 PM

Well there was a legal push to drive them out of the cities as well, spuwho.

It just wasnt possible to build for density after the war.

Zoning laws were implemented across the country for the express purpose of suburbanizing.

You're on to something here, Stephen.  Let's eliminate zoning in all the urban core neighborhoods! ;)

Or perhaps rewrite zoning laws in such a way that they do not force suburbanization.

finehoe

April 01, 2011, 02:14:12 PM
Let's eliminate zoning in all the urban core neighborhoods! ;)

It's already been done:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_Enterprise_Zone

ChriswUfGator

April 07, 2011, 08:36:52 AM
I wish we could stop promoting the urban core redevelopment without making suburban life seem immoral. There were reasons many people wanted to leave the urban cores across the country in the 1950's. This is America after all, and people can live where they choose. We should focus on how to make the core desirable again. Everyone has their wishes, urban, suburban, exurban or rural. Create an environment that is desirable, and stop painting it like some form of unethical conduct.

Yes, there were reasons. Thankfully segregation and widespread race riots have gone the way of the dodo, so I'm not sure those reasons are particularly valid in today's environment. They didn't call it "White Flight" nationwide for nothing. More importantly, we have now seen the effects of massive suburban growth for 50 years and have had the chance to analyze it. It is disastrous.

ChriswUfGator

April 07, 2011, 08:42:21 AM

Well there was a legal push to drive them out of the cities as well, spuwho.

It just wasnt possible to build for density after the war.

Zoning laws were implemented across the country for the express purpose of suburbanizing.

You're on to something here, Stephen.  Let's eliminate zoning in all the urban core neighborhoods! ;)

Or perhaps rewrite zoning laws in such a way that they do not force suburbanization.

Dense urban areas developed in the 19th century largely because of a lack of zoning restrictions. To get back to that, the first step is eliminating those restrictions. I am sure we have learned from history enough to know better than to locate a sewer plant next to a restaurant, but aside from these obvious kind of public health issues (of which there should be very few) I think we should eliminate zoning restrictions in urban environments almost completely. When it comes to zoning in an urban environment, less is more. If by "rewrite" you mean "eliminate restrictions" then that would be awesome.

An urban core is a commercial hub, and the market should decide the use of a property. When you take that out of the equation and supplant it with poorly-informed (or in Jacksonville's case during the Great Decline, racist and/or corrupt government workers) making the decisions on who opens what where, the result is predictably disastrous.

The only way to prevent abuse of power is not to grant it in the first place.

Brian Buchanan

January 13, 2013, 10:30:12 AM
i understand the loss, however i would point out the gentrification of springfield has pushed out a large population of squaters. and that there are abandoned place all along north Main st that would take significant funds to revitalize. I live in Avondale, us, Riverside, Springfield and Murrayhill are doing nothing but growing. and the three apartment buildings in San marco probably have as many people as all of San Marco did in the 1930.

thelakelander

January 13, 2013, 02:08:24 PM
Avondale, Riverside, Murray Hill, and Springfield are all continuing to decline in population, although gentrification is most likely the reason now.  Along with some areas of Baymeadows, Moncrief, and Durkeeville, Springfield had one of largest population declines (in terms of percentage) over the past decade.  That's one of the major reasons the task of revitalizing Main Street is so difficult.  It's a commercial corridor build to support a community that is nowhere near the density it was during it's heyday.

On the other hand, San Marco grew in population over the last decade.  San Marco is a part of the former City of South Jacksonville, that was annexed into Jacksonville in 1932.  At the time, South Jacksonville with a population 5,507 had more people than all of downtown (Northbank, Southbank, Brooklyn, East Jacksonville, etc.) does today (maybe 3,000 tops).

Brian Buchanan

January 13, 2013, 06:13:38 PM
I just check facts and the 32206which is Springfield zipcode gained about 3000 people and 32205 only lost 199 people which could be a variety of reasons like the Navy transfers. 32204 lost about 200 as well but as soon as the new developments are  finished in brooklyn the number will probably increase by at least 25%. however different websites say different things i found where u got your info. so i am going to say this i live here and can i say its busy as hell here go to king street it packed about 5 nights a week
m

thelakelander

January 13, 2013, 07:43:06 PM
The numbers I used come from the US Census Bureau. Unfortunately, 32206 hasn't seen an increase in official population numbers in decades. Here is an easy to use census quick map where you can pull the numbers by 2010 census tract:

http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/map

BackinJax05

January 13, 2013, 08:03:24 PM
Up until now, I never knew Murray Hill was once an incorporated city. Thanks for posting.

As for the arguements here about urban vs. suburban living, it seems many of the 1st & 2nd generation suburbs (can you say Arlington?) are in the same decline as the urban core.

thelakelander

January 13, 2013, 08:16:41 PM
Yes, the first ring suburbs are in a similar decline.  In 20 years or so, if current trends continue, popular areas of the Southside could see a similar decline, as newer burbs spring up in St. Johns and Clay.

BackinJax05

January 14, 2013, 02:47:54 PM
^^ Baymeadows is already a 'hood. Guess Mandarin is next. :'(

Brian Buchanan

January 19, 2013, 10:23:39 PM
one thing to account for is family sizes i live in a 3br 2 story home that at one time was home to 6 people and now only 2 live here

thelakelander

January 19, 2013, 11:36:21 PM
^True. A decrease in average family size is a part of the reason for the loss in density.

stephendare

January 19, 2013, 11:39:06 PM
^True. A decrease in average family size is a part of the reason for the loss in density.

Also the decline of rooming houses and their replacement with 'apartment complexes'.

Urban cores don't really accomodate the complexes and tradition and zoning have decreased the tradition of single people living in male or female only rooming houses until marriage.
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