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.
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.
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.