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Walkable Commercial Districts: Edgewood Village

While much of the focus in our city is on downtown revitalization, Jacksonville's urban core and inner-ring suburbs are home to a number of long-overlooked, historic, walkable commercial districts. In our effort to promote better use of existing assets in our communities - which will facilitate sustainable growth and subsequently increase the city's tax base - Metro Jacksonville highlight's Edgewood Village (Murray Hill's First Block).

Published May 25, 2012 in Neighborhoods      29 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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About Murray Hill & Edgewood Village


Murray Hill Heights development signage. Image courtesy of Murray Hill Preservation Association.

Named after a neighborhood in Manhattan, Murray Hill (Heights) is a 1907 replat of the northern section of the Edgewood subdivision, which was platted in the 1880's.  Many of the streets in the area, such as Cassat Avenue and Challen Avenue, are named after investors in the Edgewood Company that platted Edgewood in the 1880’s.

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Edgewood Subdivision Trustees

William M. Nelson

Charles C. Mclean (Ingleside)

William J. Harkisheimer (Hamilton)

Elizabeth J. French

Edmund Day

Massillon Cassett

William B. Owen


Then known as Murray Hill Avenue, Edgewood Avenue was designed to be a boulevard with a wide landscaped median, similar to Springfield's Main Street, which featured a streetcar line in the median.  


Florida Military Academy. Image courtesy of Murray Hill Preservation Association.

In 1913, the Florida Military Academy was constructed two blocks north of where Edgewood Village would rise.  In 1914, streetcar service was extended to Edgewood Avenue, connecting the Florida Military Academy with the City of Jacksonville.  A year later the first commercial building in the First Block would rise.  


The First Block. Image courtesy of Murray Hill Preservation Association.

In 1916, Murray Hill was incorporated as its own town with Hugh Lauder serving as its first mayor. Many early residents in the area were railroad workers who built homes in Murray Hill due of its close proximity to the Seaboard Shops in Lackawanna.  Like the communities surrounding it, Edgewood Village would rapidly develop over the next decade, serving as a commercial district for both Murray Hill and Telfair Stockton's deed restricted 4.5 block wide Avondale subdivision which abutted the district to the south. Edgewood Village's commercial counterpart, Shoppes of Avondale, would develop during the same time period, simultaneously with the growing residential districts surrounding it.


In this early photo, a semi-convertable streetcar with 'Union Depot' on the destination curtain is bound for the Myrtle Avenue loop, a portion of the Murray Hill Heights car line. Semi Convertible cars were introduced by the J. G.  Brill Car Company in 1903 and were popular in the southeast for their removable windshields that easily converted the ends of the car into open platforms for balmy summer operations. Image courtesy of Florida State Archives.

The August 3, 1923, Sunday edition of the Florida Times-Union (pp 20) devoted 3/4 of the page under the headline, "Electric Car Line Building to Big Academy," 'Myrtle Avenue Extension is Being Pushed Out Banana and Myra Streets," "Track Laying is Lively," and "Grading Gangs Pushing Work to Complete Job By October 1 - A Big Developer for Section."

The work was pushed south from the south end of Myrtle Avenue turning west on (Date Street) Forest to (Banana Street) Dellwood (largely under the Big I Interchange today) to Margaret Street where it jogged to Myra, to (Barrs Street) Stockton Street to College. On College the line crossed the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad tracks then ran along the west side of the railroad to Edgewood Avenue.

The first photo that accompanied the article in the Times-Union track gangs on Dellwood between Gilmore and Margaret. There are a couple of stately homes visible at the corner, a corner that is today exactly under the middle of the I-95 ramps. There was a short delay at the corner owing to City Engineering and the Jacksonville Traction Company trying to resolve a utility relocation conflict. As a result the track gangs were sent further south and they continued to push the railhead another 1/2 mile out. Just as every streetcar suburb before it, the newspaper boldly and correctly surmised that,"It is anticipated that the entire community will settle up rapidly."

With yet another reason given for the rapid sales and settlement, the newspaper reported that, "Murray Hill Heights is rapidly becoming a residential suburb. The Jacksonville Development Company Officials state that they have sold nearly $200,000 worth of building lots in this subdivision since last March., when the work of development began. There are now several miles of paved streets lined with shade trees and the company has a splendid artesian well from which it proposes to lay water mains to supply the homes of all who purchase lots from the company. The plans for development also include a modern sewer system. An immense septic tank will be used, similar to the one in New Springfield, which takes care of all the sewage of that suburb. New houses have been built and others are in course of construction, and the company announces that it will build twenty bungalows of attractive design during the next few months."

While the commercial district's residential neighbor, Avondale was being marketed by Stockton, the Town of Murray Hill was officially annexed to the City of Jacksonville in 1925.  Nevertheless, rapid growth in the area would continue with houses being built at a rate of one every two days in Murray Hill in 1928.

Rapid growth spurred by the electric railway dictated changes to the Traction Company's scheduling in this section of the city. The newspaper reported that, "Riverside and Murray Hill service will be increased. All Riverside cars will run to Talbot Avenue in Avondale, maintaining a six minute headway. Murray Hill cars will observe a seven and a half minute schedule to the railroad crossing on College street. A fifteen minute headway will be run to the end of the line." And of course the end of this line was in what we call 'Edgewood Village' in 'Murray Hill' today. More specifically the line ended with a double track platform station in the median of Edgewood between Mayflower and Colby Street.


Edgewood Theater image courtesy of Florida State Archives.

By the 1930's, Edgewood Avenue was known as the "Avenue of Progress", featuring a large number of specialty shops and four grocery stores.  One of the last structures built in Edgewood Village, now referred to as the First Block, was the Edgewood movie theater, which opened in 1947.  This structure is now the campus of Jones College.  Edgewood's peak years were between the late 1950's and mid 1970's.  In 1975, the academy building was demolished to make way for the Florida Christian Home development.


The First Block Today



Today, the First Block remains as a vestige to an era when it bloomed as a transit oriented development at the terminus of the Murray Hill Heights streetcar line.  If commuter rail returns to the CSX A-Line, one of Jacksonville's original commercial transit oriented developments will again be linked with fixed mass transit and the economic vitality it brings.


Former Murray Hill streetcar line ran parallel to Plymouth Street.


Sleiman Enterprises' Edgewood Avenue Square dates back to 1917.  Leverett's Ice Cream, Brinson's Cycle Shop, and Murray Hill Shoe Repair were tenants in 1940.






Completed in 1926, 1170 Edgewood was originally the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, now better known as A&P.


The two-story structure in the center of the image was completed in 1919.  Tillman Dry Cleaners occupied the ground level in 1940.






Residences along Mayflower Street behind 1171 Edgewood Avenue.


1171 Edgewood Avenue was completed in 1933.






This building was the location of Wood's Edgewood Pharmacy and Ruth Sapp's Luncheonette for many years.  Completed in 1915, it was the location of Piggly Wiggly during the Great Depression.





Edgewood Village (The First Block) is located on Jacksonville's Westside along Edgewood Avenue, just west of the Roosevelt Boulevard interchange.

Article by Ennis Davis
and Robert Mann


Sources: http://murrayhillneighbors.com/wp/?page_id=43

http://www.jaxhistory.com/Book-page-jah.html







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29 Comments

SunKing

May 25, 2012, 08:31:41 AM
i had never heard of the Florida Military Academy.  Was that located on the current BOA site?

thelakelander

May 25, 2012, 08:36:16 AM
The military academy was located where the senior housing development sits between Antisdale and Corby Streets.

Dapperdan

May 25, 2012, 08:37:01 AM
I spent many a summer afternoon walking to Wood's pharmacy for a fountain coke a we called it. I remember the lunch counte ron the side wall too.

Wacca Pilatka

May 25, 2012, 08:38:01 AM
Great article.  There is remarkably little Murray Hill coverage in Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage, so this just underscores what's been said on here before about how it skips a number of historically significant buildings in certain parts of the city.

cline

May 25, 2012, 09:26:24 AM
This is a great little area.  I recommend getting an order of pretzel nuggets next time anyone is playing pool at Perfect Rack- they are quite tasty.

I also noticed that the building just north of BBVA has been renovated and there are about 4-5 storefronts there with an adjacent parking lot.  Not sure how much the rent is or any other details.

thelakelander

May 25, 2012, 09:32:00 AM
If a moratorium plops up in Riverside, my guess is Murray Hill will benefit from it.

cline

May 25, 2012, 09:49:42 AM
Well, there are plenty of storefronts that are ripe for development.  Pretty decent amount of parking in the area too.

PeeJayEss

May 25, 2012, 10:18:20 AM
Great stuff. This is why I love metrojax. I like the history lesson where the rail is laid, then the people/businesses come. Very good to have in mind.

Edit: also, big props to Willie Nelson for getting Edgewood off the ground!

mtraininjax

May 25, 2012, 10:22:46 AM
Quote
If a moratorium plops up in Riverside, my guess is Murray Hill will benefit from it.

Maybe, possibly, but the area is poorer than Riverside. The area east of Edgewood is much like North Riverside and its bigger than North Riverside. The area west of Edgewood to Cassat is not without its issues, but the homes are nicer and tend to have more owners.

1170 will be the location of Taco Lu as many had stated, I was shocked, but I hope they can make it work!

thehill

May 25, 2012, 11:16:57 AM
Quote
If a moratorium plops up in Riverside, my guess is Murray Hill will benefit from it.

Maybe, possibly, but the area is poorer than Riverside. The area east of Edgewood is much like North Riverside and its bigger than North Riverside. The area west of Edgewood to Cassat is not without its issues, but the homes are nicer and tend to have more owners.

1170 will be the location of Taco Lu as many had stated, I was shocked, but I hope they can make it work!

Everything said about Edgewood could have been said about king street 5-10 years ago. Hopefully the lower rents/costs can meet up with aspiring business owners. And it shouldn't be over looked that the they have proximity to wealthier areas at fractions of the cost to other commercial districts in the area.   

tufsu1

May 25, 2012, 11:23:54 AM
If a moratorium plops up in Riverside, my guess is Murray Hill will benefit from it.

this is just what some want (development in Murray Hill and Brooklyn instead of R-A)....in fact its been mentioned that the same thing has happened in other cities....one neighborhood says no to business, and the adjacent neighborhood reaps the rewards

WmNussbaum

May 25, 2012, 11:37:04 AM
I wonder how many Saturday Matinees I went to at the Edgewood Theater. What a great way to spend Saturday morning. Bike to the theater and watch a news reel, a few cartoons, a movie and maybe some on-stage program.  All for the price of $0.25 - which now gets you 30 minutes on a parking meter.

stephendare

May 25, 2012, 11:40:24 AM
I wonder how many Saturday Matinees I went to at the Edgewood Theater. What a great way to spend Saturday morning. Bike to the theater and watch a news reel, a few cartoons, a movie and maybe some on-stage program.  All for the price of $0.25 - which now gets you 30 minutes on a parking meter.

The Murray Hill Theatre is on its way up as we speak!

John Allen has been quietly revolutionizing the interior workings, and they have been programming fully programmed classic theatre nights with all of the pre show entertainment included.

Hes about to get started on the cafe, and I think there may be some pretty popular old boomtown favorites on the menu. ;)

mtraininjax

May 25, 2012, 02:02:23 PM
Quote
one neighborhood says no to business, and the adjacent neighborhood reaps the rewards

It is real spotty in Murray Hill, time has not been great to the Edgewood strip of businesses. Crazy Egg and Edgewood Bakery have been good stewards of the area, but in between, lots and lots of empty spaces. The strip is there to cater to the residents of the area, so that may tell you more about what is happening to the residents in the area. A real shame too, it has deteriorated since the start of the recession. It will come back, but its anyone's question as to when, as there are still 6,000 dollar homes for sale in the area, places you would not let your mother live alone.

cline

May 25, 2012, 02:19:18 PM
I don't think that the strip caters primarily to residents of MH.  Moon River, Perfect Rack, Crazy Egg, Edgewood Bakery, etc. easily pull residents from Avondale/Riverside.  I live in Avondale and the Edgewood strip is actually closer to me than the Park and King District (it's clearly not as vibrant though).  As a poster mentioned earlier, the Edgewood strip can pull from the wealthier areas due to its proximity. Its got available stores for reasonable prices and it has the potential to develop much like Park and King.  Taco Lu will definitely help this.

Ocklawaha

May 25, 2012, 06:13:43 PM
The problem here, of course, is that Murray Hill like EVERY OTHER suburb in Jacksonville was designed for AUTOMOBILES!  ;)

Fallen Buckeye

May 25, 2012, 07:53:23 PM
My wife and I spend a lot of time in Murray Hill. We were looking to buy a house there, but just couldn't find the right one so we ended up down the road off Normandy. One of the things that surprised me was the lot sizes on a few of the houses to the west of Edgewood Village. They were a lot bigger than I would have expected to see in-town. The other thing I love is that a lot of Murray Hill is still your classic mom and pop operations like Flowers by Pat and the Dreamette. Except the banks, I can't think of national brand company along that corridor.

mtraininjax

May 26, 2012, 09:50:04 PM
Quote
As a poster mentioned earlier, the Edgewood strip can pull from the wealthier areas due to its proximity. Its got available stores for reasonable prices and it has the potential to develop much like Park and King.

Maybe that is the case at Edgewood and Plymouth, but head up Edgewood North and the stores get more desolate, and by the time you reach Bank of America, its a ghost town. Not much Avondale/Riverside influence up that way.

Just for kicks, how many convenience stores are there between Plymouth and Lenox. A lot more than in Avondale/Riverside, a sign that the area is not as wealthy as Avondale/Riverside.

cline

May 27, 2012, 12:07:18 PM
Quote
As a poster mentioned earlier, the Edgewood strip can pull from the wealthier areas due to its proximity. Its got available stores for reasonable prices and it has the potential to develop much like Park and King.

Maybe that is the case at Edgewood and Plymouth, but head up Edgewood North and the stores get more desolate, and by the time you reach Bank of America, its a ghost town. Not much Avondale/Riverside influence up that way.

Just for kicks, how many convenience stores are there between Plymouth and Lenox. A lot more than in Avondale/Riverside, a sign that the area is not as wealthy as Avondale/Riverside.

Actually no.  Just for kicks- there are 3 convenience store on Edgewood between Plymouth and Lenox (Mayflower @ Edgwood, Post @ Edgewood and Lenox @ Edgewood).  Hell, there's 3 convenience stores just on Park St. near Ingleside and Dancy.  Plus the one at Oak and Stockton, and the ones on King St. and the ones in 5 points.  So no, there are not more convenience stores on strip of Edgewood between Plymouth and Lenox.  But the point is, no one said that the area is not as "wealthy" as RA, the point was that the area can pull from R/A.

On a different note, the seafood shop on the corner of Lenox and Edgewood, it's called Swimming Yesterday, is a good joint.  Very nice people there with reasonable prices.  I get Apalachicola oysters there frequently.

mtraininjax

May 28, 2012, 04:51:03 AM
Quote
there are 3 convenience store on Edgewood between Plymouth and Lenox (Mayflower @ Edgwood, Post @ Edgewood and Lenox @ Edgewood).

Yes there are, but these are tied to other needs and commercial businesses, the dance studio, Yesterday's coin laundry, Orsay, hair stylist. The CS on Plymouth, yes it is close to Moon River, same as the gas station at Post and Edgewood. The difference is that as you head North on Edgewood, the commercial district does not pull from anything other desolation. By the time you get to Lenox and Edgewood, you'd swear you were in another part of town. A lot of the commercial at this end has left and moved on, and the neighborhood has not been the same since. This area pulls from nothing, so the R/A effect is limited in scope and effect.  North Riverside is a good example too.

WmNussbaum

May 28, 2012, 12:07:53 PM
I see no sign of a TacoLu. Where is it supposed to be going? Across from Moon River, the "for rent " signs are still up.

Charles Hunter

May 28, 2012, 02:50:45 PM
I remember going to the Edgewood Theater for those matinees WmNussbaum talked about, getting sodas at the drug store, and going to Toy Town, that was somewhere in that block, I think.

PeeJayEss

May 29, 2012, 09:05:13 AM
Any thoughts on how the transition of Edgewood from 2 lanes to four lanes at Mayflower affects the vibrancy of the corridor further out? Just observation, it would seem that 2 lanes > 4 lanes. The corridor is pretty great for the first block to Mayflower. Antisdale to Jasmine or Kerle is also in pretty good shape, despite the four lanes, but that may just have to do with how good those few anchor businesses are there (Crazy Egg, the bakery, and Dreamette could all probably stay in business where ever you put them). Seems the problem is the 4 lanes and/or the blocks in between these two areas, where you essentially have dead space for a good portion. The bank (Compass, I believe?) on the SW side of the street, then the church, Edgewood Condominiums, and Florida Christian Apartments on the NE side that make it a very long walk between activity centers.

Even with these dead spaces, that first half of the corridor toward Lenox isn't too bad. You can walk around there at night without much fuss. Definitely could be infilled and improved, and its probably a good investment.

cline

May 29, 2012, 09:13:53 AM
^I think that may have been mentioned in a different thread.  It would create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.  It may not have a huge effect on the vitality of the commercial vitality of the area though.  I have no idea what the traffic counts are for that stretch but I would doubt it warrants 4-lanes.  Could be a good candidate for a road diet.

thelakelander

May 29, 2012, 09:16:49 AM
I don't think the roadway lanes are as big of a problem on foot.  From a pedestrian scale standpoint, the lots with suburban site layouts are the major problem in that stretch.  There are also a number of empty buildings in that stretch.  Activating those buildings would most likely change the vibe of the corridor without one red cent invested in improving the street.  In other words, I think how some of the land uses meet the street are a more significant factor than Edgewood being four lanes. 

Nevertheless, I agree with Cline.  The next time its scheduled to be repaved, it would be a great candidate for a road diet (going down to 2 lanes and adding wide bicycle lanes).

thelakelander

May 29, 2012, 09:23:41 AM
I have no idea what the traffic counts are for that stretch but I would doubt it warrants 4-lanes.

The 2011 AADT was somewhere between 6,500 to 7,000. 

For those who may not be familiar with "AADT" it means:

Quote
Annual average daily traffic, abbreviated AADT, is a measure used primarily in transportation planning and transportation engineering. It is the total volume of vehicle traffic of a highway or road for a year divided by 365 days. AADT is a useful and simple measurement of how busy the road is. It is sometimes incorrectly reported as "average annual daily traffic"

Road diets are typically successful on roads carrying less than 19,000 cars a day.  So Edgewood would be ideal for a road diet project.

cline

May 29, 2012, 09:33:12 AM
With those low counts it could easily go down to 2 lanes and maintain and acceptable level of service.

Tacachale

May 29, 2012, 09:34:39 AM
^I totally agree with that.

cline

May 29, 2012, 11:34:09 AM
I just took a look at the COJ Murray Hill Town Center Vision Plan (from 2004) and it recommends decreasing Edgewood from 4 lanes to 2 from Falmouth Street to Mayflower with landscaped medians.  It also has intersection improvements (8 foot crosswalks etc.) at the intersections in between.  Cost estimate for the improvements was about 1.1MM (in 2004). 

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