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Neighborhoods: Atlantic Beach

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at the sunny side of the ditch, in a community entrenched in history, with a recent flair for modern homes and neighborhood compactness. Join us as we stroll down this part of the beaches, known by the locals as "AB", where "everyone knows everyone" is no exaggeration.

Published October 18, 2011 in Neighborhoods      11 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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Atlantic Beach is an easy, pleasant area to navigate - whether by foot, bike, skateboard, or car (a last choice), whether for going from point A to point B or for pure leisure. Bounded my a handful of the traditional numbered streets running perpendicular to the beach and a bevy of beach-themed street names running parallel leading down to the beach access', the city is the northernmost of the Jacksonville Beaches communities. It is made up of mostly single-family homes sitting independently along the streets, family-oriented subdivisions, and waterfront condominiums. With the outermost edge of the city running off Mayport Road, it is home to a diverse group of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Incorporated among the heavily neighborhood aspect of the area, are public parks, schools, an entertainment district, and tourism spots. With small town charm, AB is ideal for passing through, or deeming it your final destination.





History of Atlantic Beach


Henry Flagler opened the Continental Hotel on June 1, 1901. This massive wooden yellow hotel was 47 feet by 447 feet with a six story rotunda and five story wings. The dining room could seat 350. There were 186 sleeping apartments (later 200) and 56 baths. The hotel contained other buildings such as servants’ quarters, a bowling alley, a power plant, water works, pier and a railroad depot.  The Continental would burn to the ground in 1919.

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Atlantic Beach was a small seaside community around 1900 when Henry Flagler, builder of the Florida East Coast Railway, built the Mayport branch of the railway and erected a station just north of the former Atlantic Beach City Hall (Now Adele Grage Cultural Center).

The Continental Hotel, with approximately 300 rooms, was built soon thereafter on a tract of land lying between the depot and the beach. The land surrounding the hotel was subdivided and sold for summer homes. Promotional activities to attract tourists included auto races on the beach and air shows and the area experienced considerable growth.

In 1913, the railroad sold most of the land to the Atlantic Beach Corporation, headed by Ernest R. Beckett, which began paving streets, installing lights and water and sewer lines. However, during World War I, people were afraid to come to the coast and the Atlantic Beach Corporation went into bankruptcy. After the war, land began to sell again and the settlement began to grow. The Town of Atlantic Beach was incorporated in 1926 and the Governor appointed Harcourt Bull, Sr., as the first Mayor.

A tract of land was purchased from the railroad and was developed as the Town Park and became the site of the first Town Hall. The building burned down in 1931 and a new Town Hall was built in 1932 at 716 Ocean Boulevard. The first Charter was adopted in 1929, and in addition to the Charter officials, the town had one additional employee. The town continued to grow and by 1940 there were 38 employees and a taxable value, after the homestead exemptions of $1 million dollars. A new Charter was adopted in 1957 making Atlantic Beach a city.

Much of the development in the city has been residential, with single-family homes accounting for most of the developed land areas. The city is nearing build-out with less than 10% of the incorporated land area being undeveloped.

Today, Atlantic Beach is a mostly residential community whose approximately 14,000 citizens enjoy an enviable quality of life.


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11 Comments

billy

October 18, 2011, 07:02:45 AM
There are a lot of wonderful contemporary houses in the area.
Is the house with the neon 360 street number a restored house from the 1960's?

How is William Morgan these days?

peestandingup

October 18, 2011, 11:14:23 AM
A lot of times, I feel like the beaches are more "urban" than our core. At least what I would consider more of an urban-type fabric. Connected, walkable, bikeable, etc with plenty of shopping/eating throughout & actual pedestrians outside enjoying their surroundings. Its a more pleasant experience a lot of times just roaming around there. I feel like when I ride my bike in town that I'm going to be killed at any moment & no one wants me there.

Maybe its the way the core is broken up by the river, so it all seems less accessible? But I do feel like the beaches are a more enjoyable experience for doing those types of things. Just my $0.02.

Tacachale

October 18, 2011, 11:45:30 AM
Great pictures and great article. Almost makes me want to move back out there.

thelakelander

October 18, 2011, 01:26:37 PM
Great article, Sarah!  I love the diversity of architecture.  That's something Jacksonville should encourage in the urban core.

Tacachale

October 18, 2011, 01:58:12 PM
A lot of times, I feel like the beaches are more "urban" than our core. At least what I would consider more of an urban-type fabric. Connected, walkable, bikeable, etc with plenty of shopping/eating throughout & actual pedestrians outside enjoying their surroundings. Its a more pleasant experience a lot of times just roaming around there. I feel like when I ride my bike in town that I'm going to be killed at any moment & no one wants me there.

Maybe its the way the core is broken up by the river, so it all seems less accessible? But I do feel like the beaches are a more enjoyable experience for doing those types of things. Just my $0.02.
I think of the success of the Beaches as just evidence that Jacksonville can get it right when we put our minds to it. It's impossible to tell now,  but the revitalization of the Beaches wasn't in hand until the 1990s. There is plenty that works at the Beach that we could emulate downtown and in the core.

JeffreyS

October 18, 2011, 02:13:23 PM
If the housing market ever makes it so I can sell my Oakleaf sprawler I have promised the wife we will move to Atlantic Beach.  I love it almost as much as Riverside.

peestandingup

October 18, 2011, 02:56:14 PM
A lot of times, I feel like the beaches are more "urban" than our core. At least what I would consider more of an urban-type fabric. Connected, walkable, bikeable, etc with plenty of shopping/eating throughout & actual pedestrians outside enjoying their surroundings. Its a more pleasant experience a lot of times just roaming around there. I feel like when I ride my bike in town that I'm going to be killed at any moment & no one wants me there.

Maybe its the way the core is broken up by the river, so it all seems less accessible? But I do feel like the beaches are a more enjoyable experience for doing those types of things. Just my $0.02.
I think of the success of the Beaches as just evidence that Jacksonville can get it right when we put our minds to it. It's impossible to tell now,  but the revitalization of the Beaches wasn't in hand until the 1990s. There is plenty that works at the Beach that we could emulate downtown and in the core.

True. Although they still had their fabric still in place. I feel like Jax has killed off a lot of theirs. Plus, we're so much bigger & sprawlier, whereas the beaches are compact, connected & mostly independent. Mush easier to work with & do real things that benefit all the residents.

If the housing market ever makes it so I can sell my Oakleaf sprawler I have promised the wife we will move to Atlantic Beach.  I love it almost as much as Riverside.

I wouldn't blame you. I think if I could do it all over again, I'd probably go with Atlantic Beach too. But I live in the same area as you & its paaaainful dude. I have to literally psych myself up to get in the car & make the trek to real neighborhoods (in the core, the beaches, whatever) on a daily basis so I don't go stir crazy out here. I don't know how people do it. I swear I don't.

Tacachale

October 18, 2011, 03:52:11 PM
A lot of times, I feel like the beaches are more "urban" than our core. At least what I would consider more of an urban-type fabric. Connected, walkable, bikeable, etc with plenty of shopping/eating throughout & actual pedestrians outside enjoying their surroundings. Its a more pleasant experience a lot of times just roaming around there. I feel like when I ride my bike in town that I'm going to be killed at any moment & no one wants me there.

Maybe its the way the core is broken up by the river, so it all seems less accessible? But I do feel like the beaches are a more enjoyable experience for doing those types of things. Just my $0.02.
I think of the success of the Beaches as just evidence that Jacksonville can get it right when we put our minds to it. It's impossible to tell now,  but the revitalization of the Beaches wasn't in hand until the 1990s. There is plenty that works at the Beach that we could emulate downtown and in the core.

True. Although they still had their fabric still in place. I feel like Jax has killed off a lot of theirs. Plus, we're so much bigger & sprawlier, whereas the beaches are compact, connected & mostly independent. Mush easier to work with & do real things that benefit all the residents.

I meant greater Jacksonville on the whole, of which the Beaches are part. There are other parts of town (Riverside, San Marco, and elsewhere in the metro area, like St. Augustine and Fernandina) where things are working too. At least in the commercial/entertainment areas, the Beaches didn't have any more of their building fabric preserved than Downtown or anywhere else, both "Downtown" Jacksonville Beach and the Beaches Town Center took millions of dollars and years of construction to get it to where they are now. And it has paid off remarkably. The Beaches do have things that Downtown doesn't have (eg, the beach), but there's no reason the same smart planning that turned the Beaches around wouldn't help downtown.

grimss

October 18, 2011, 04:00:03 PM
Definitely my favorite J-Ville beach, and the only other place in town I'd consider living besides good 'ole Riverside Avondale.

simms3

October 18, 2011, 07:57:29 PM
Loves Atlantic Beach.  Fond memories.

Jack

February 22, 2012, 03:05:21 PM
Does anyone know what is going on with the property where the recently closed convenience store at Atl. Blvd in NB, within Town Center, is?
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