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Walkable Districts: Edison Avenue

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 North Riverside's Edison Avenue.

Published November 16, 2012 in Neighborhoods      25 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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Historical Background


The Our Lady of the Angels Parish was established in 1917 on Lackwanna (Edison) Avenue to serve Jacksonville's growing Catholic population.

In 1900, the Florida Central and Peninsula Railroads contracted with the Seaboard Airline (SAL) to have SAL operate the Beaver Street railroad tracks and use the Florida Central and Peninsular railroad shops near McDuff Street.  


After the Great Fire of 1901, rebuilding efforts led to rapid residential construction beginning to spread out in all directions from downtown. In 1903, SAL acquired Florida Central and Peninsular and expanded the maintenance shops, leading to the platting of nearby Lackawanna between 1904 and 1907.  To connect the shops and neighborhood with downtown, a streetcar line was constructed along Edison Avenue, which at the time was called Lackawanna Avenue.


By 1909, over the Seaboard Air Line shops and terminals employed 1,000 men.  Soon infill industrial growth started to occur along railroad lines in the area.  


A Consumers Ice Company truck in 1948. Courtesy of the Spottswood Collection, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/53262

With its streetcar, Lackwanna (Edison) Avenue started to attract commercial uses, which catered to the population and industries surrounding it.  Soon, companies like Orange Crush Bottling Works, Dekle Lumber Company, and Consumers Ice Company had operations in the district.


With as much as 20% of the neighborhood's residents being employed in the manufacturing sector through the 1980s, Edison Avenue eventually developed into mixed-use corridor where residential, industrial, and commercial uses stood side-by-side.


Looking down Edison Avenue in 1960. Courtesy of the Robert E. Fisher Collection, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167678

By the 1930's, businesses on the strip included the Great A&P Tea Company (grocery), Sam Crews Blacksmith, Louis Fleet's shoe repair, George Sumner's dry goods, Lackawanna Hardware Company, and Michael Schneider Grocery.

The mid-1930s elimination of streetcar service and the construction of Interstate 10 were significant negative impacts to North Riverside's and Edison Avenue's vitality.


The "new" Edison bus next to the Kings Road streetcar on downtown's Forsyth Street in 1936.

By 1950, Edison Avenue served as the commercial epicenter for 10,535 residents. In 1960, Interstate 10 was constructed parallel to Edison Avenue, partially leading to the corridor's decline as a visible commercial center. As Jacksonville has expanded outward, North Riverside has declined like many inner city communities across the city. According to the 2010 Census, the neighborhood's population was 3,795.


Quote
The residential development of the area north of Riverside and south of McCoy’s Creek began during this period with the platting of several new subdivisions.  B.H. Gandy filed the first recorded new subdivision in the area following the Great Fire of 1901 in 1905.  Brinkley H. Gandy had resided on a large parcel fronting the Highway (Edison Avenue) which was an important thoroughfare connecting Downtown Jacksonville with rural southwest Duval County and Clay County via the Black Creek Road (Lennox Avenue).  In that same year, William C. Fehranback filed the plat for the first of his two subdivisions in the area.  During this period, Fehranback resided in the area at 634 Smith Street.

The Woodhaven Subdivision was filed in 1908 by Jacksonville real estate investors, O. Pierre Havens and Frank E. Wood.  Between 1912 and 1917, H.B. Frazee, who was not listed as living in Jacksonville during the period, filed several new subdivisions or replats.  All of the plats in the area show the traditional straight grid street pattern, with no indication of land dedicated for parks or other amenities.  Alleys generally run mid-block. There is no indication of any uniform setbacks or other restrictions imposed by the developers, or of the elaborate infrastructure built by the developers of Riverside.

Most of the new subdivisions were bounded on the south by the railroad and the Highway (Edison Avenue) and by McCoy’s Creek on the north.  Although many of the street names are still used such as Forest Street, Calvin Street, and Lewis Street, others have changed such Webster Avenue, Delmar Street, Cherry Avenue (Belfort Street), Woodland Street, Park Street, 2nd Avenue, and the Highway (Edison Avenue). Interestingly, North Riverside was racially diverse for the first three decades of the 20th century, with the white population residing largely west of Broward Street.  The African American population tended to be concentrated more to the east and north connecting with other predominately black neighborhoods such as Campbell’s Addition to West Jacksonville, West Lewisville, Brooklyn, and Campbell’s Hill.

http://www.coj.net/departments/planning-and-development/docs/community-planning-division/plans-and-studies/north-riverside-plan-(adopted).aspx


Jacksonville police officer with mule at corner of Edison Avenue and James Street in the 1950s. Courtesy of the Robert E. Fisher Collection, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/167370



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25 Comments

Adam W

November 16, 2012, 03:09:19 AM
One of my good friends in high school lived in Lackawanna. His dad was a veterinarian and ran his practice over there, too. I also briefly had a job in the area in college, working at Pure Ice of the South, Inc.

I love the area. Sure, it needs a bit of work and would benefit from an influx of new residents, but it definitely has the bare bones for being an up and coming neighborhood.

Jacksonville has so many of the great little "lost" neighborhoods that you'd never really know about - that's one thing I love about this website. And that's one of the things I love about mandatory busing and going to school on the Northside. I got to see places I never would've known existed.

Noone

November 16, 2012, 05:22:15 AM
Thanks again for the history of Jacksonville. Is this area inside or outside the new DIA zone?

thelakelander

November 16, 2012, 06:44:01 AM
It's outside of the DIA boundaries.

mbwright

November 16, 2012, 08:46:31 AM
If you ever need an electric motor rebuilt, or serviced, or need a used one, the Jacksonville Electric Motor Exchange in the first picture is a good place to go.  They have been there forever.

jaxlore

November 16, 2012, 09:44:57 AM
I bike home that way once or twice a week. In the morning there are too many big trucks. Cool to see this article there are some neat buildings back there.

cline

November 16, 2012, 10:07:24 AM
I had no idea that the Gateway Community Services used to be a Holiday Inn.  Just checked it out on Google maps and the current structures very much resemble the rendering in this article.  Very interesting.

fieldafm

November 16, 2012, 10:28:45 AM
I had no idea that the Gateway Community Services used to be a Holiday Inn.  Just checked it out on Google maps and the current structures very much resemble the rendering in this article.  Very interesting.

Not only was that a Holiday Inn for a long time, the current FDOT building next door used to house an insurance company.

urbanlibertarian

November 16, 2012, 10:29:54 AM
Quote
The residential development of the area north of Riverside and south of McCoy’s Creek began during this period with the platting of several new subdivisions.  B.H. Gandy filed the first recorded new subdivision in the area following the Great Fire of 1901 in 1905.  Brinkley H. Gandy had resided on a large parcel fronting the Highway (Edison Avenue) which was an important thoroughfare connecting Downtown Jacksonville with rural southwest Duval County and Clay County via the Black Creek Road (Lennox Avenue).

This is the first time I've heard of the Highway (Edison Ave.) and the Black Creek Road (Lennox Ave.).  I believe Park St. and Roosevelt Blvd. are what was originally the Orange Park Road.  Do we know if the southern end of the Black Creek Road became Blanding Blvd?  Just curious.

Nightman_Cometh

November 16, 2012, 11:43:07 AM
A lot of neat little houses back in there as well.  And yeah, sure its walkable, but who really wants to walk back there??

Ocklawaha

November 16, 2012, 11:47:46 AM
Edison was originally known as "Electric Avenue," which was a take from the Jacksonville Traction Company's streetcar line. The streetcars ran as the "Electric Avenue, Seaboard Lackawanna Shops" line. From the car barn (located where the Skyway maintenance facility is today) the route ran down Riverside to Electric and followed Electric to Mc Duff. Running north on McDuff the cars turned onto Warrington and went about one block west to the entrance of the railroad shops.

Driving Edison is cool not only because of the building stock, it's curving footprint, and a lack of traffic signals date back to the streetcar era.

You've just got to wonder how much insurance money the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad demanded for the streetcars to cross their tracks.

thelakelander

November 16, 2012, 11:50:22 AM
A lot of neat little houses back in there as well.  And yeah, sure its walkable, but who really wants to walk back there??

Less than 10 years ago, not many would want to walk down King Street either.  The point of the article would be exposing this area as something that exists and that could be salvageable.

BackinJax05

November 16, 2012, 04:36:24 PM
Edison, like Phoenix (featured in another article), both have so much potential to be great neighborhoods again. They both also had streetcar lines. Both are very close to downtown, and both were once self sufficient, blue collar communities.

If only there was a way to bring them back. Investing in these areas to retain existing and attract new industry wouldnt hurt. Putting the streetcars back or adding light rail wouldnt hurt, either.

If only...

thelakelander

November 16, 2012, 05:32:09 PM
They can be brought back to vibrant life.  However, judging from some of the comments on 220 Riverside, it will mean overcoming a mindset in this city where investing in neighborhoods like this are a waste of time.  For some reason, we rather avoid these places and spend a billion on building a new highway for new growth 20 miles outside of downtown.

BackinJax05

November 16, 2012, 07:39:02 PM
^Which makes no sense, because in these older areas the infrastructure is already in place - even if the neighborhood doesnt look so good on the surface.

jaxeeyore

November 23, 2012, 11:10:38 AM
Many of these old buildings could be refurbished into retail businesses or entertainment venues along the same lines as Five-Points or San Marco Square.  Once established, residential re-development would follow. It could be successful if the city would partner with a group of investors who are willing to put up the capitol. 

Tacachale

November 23, 2012, 12:55:42 PM
Many of these old buildings could be refurbished into retail businesses or entertainment venues along the same lines as Five-Points or San Marco Square.  Once established, residential re-development would follow. It could be successful if the city would partner with a group of investors who are willing to put up the capitol. 

Interesting comment from the new user who claimed the private 220 Riverside project was doomed to failure.

JayBird

November 23, 2012, 03:09:39 PM
Many of these old buildings could be refurbished into retail businesses or entertainment venues along the same lines as Five-Points or San Marco Square.  Once established, residential re-development would follow. It could be successful if the city would partner with a group of investors who are willing to put up the capitol. 

Interesting comment from the new user who claimed the private 220 Riverside project was doomed to failure.

 :o ...  :-X

peestandingup

November 23, 2012, 03:42:07 PM
^Which makes no sense, because in these older areas the infrastructure is already in place - even if the neighborhood doesnt look so good on the surface.

And thats why they don't care. If you haven't noticed, Jacksonville has been stuck in the past (on the suburban development teet) for quite a while. Its an industry they can't seem to shake off, even though the markets are telling them to.

You don't get to be the biggest city land wise by making great choices.

Tacachale

November 23, 2012, 04:48:53 PM
^Which makes no sense, because in these older areas the infrastructure is already in place - even if the neighborhood doesnt look so good on the surface.

And thats why they don't care. If you haven't noticed, Jacksonville has been stuck in the past (on the suburban development teet) for quite a while. Its an industry they can't seem to shake off, even though the markets are telling them to.

You don't get to be the biggest city land wise by making great choices.

We're the "biggest city land wise" because the city consolidated with the county. The county boundaries have little to do with the actual built environment, which is certainly not the biggest or most sprawling.

peestandingup

November 23, 2012, 06:32:55 PM
^Which makes no sense, because in these older areas the infrastructure is already in place - even if the neighborhood doesnt look so good on the surface.

And thats why they don't care. If you haven't noticed, Jacksonville has been stuck in the past (on the suburban development teet) for quite a while. Its an industry they can't seem to shake off, even though the markets are telling them to.

You don't get to be the biggest city land wise by making great choices.

We're the "biggest city land wise" because the city consolidated with the county. The county boundaries have little to do with the actual built environment, which is certainly not the biggest or most sprawling.

We're not the only city who's done that. Its very common in fact. And have you been out to the westside in a while?? I live out here in this god forsaken area (near Herlong Airport) so I see it every day. They're not building that outer beltway for nothing. It's some weird miss mash of rural, then sub divisions galore, then rural, then strip malls, then Wal-Marts, then gaggles of more sub divisions, etc.

Regardless I can assure you, its a "built environment" & not cow pastures. And that kinda thing goes on FAR further out west than I am. We'll be gobbling up Baldwin before you know it. It's pretty ridiculous.

Tacachale

November 23, 2012, 07:25:49 PM
^Which makes no sense, because in these older areas the infrastructure is already in place - even if the neighborhood doesnt look so good on the surface.

And thats why they don't care. If you haven't noticed, Jacksonville has been stuck in the past (on the suburban development teet) for quite a while. Its an industry they can't seem to shake off, even though the markets are telling them to.

You don't get to be the biggest city land wise by making great choices.

We're the "biggest city land wise" because the city consolidated with the county. The county boundaries have little to do with the actual built environment, which is certainly not the biggest or most sprawling.

We're not the only city who's done that. Its very common in fact. And have you been out to the westside in a while?? I live out here in this god forsaken area (near Herlong Airport) so I see it every day. They're not building that outer beltway for nothing. It's some weird miss mash of rural, then sub divisions galore, then rural, then strip malls, then Wal-Marts, then gaggles of more sub divisions, etc.

Regardless I can assure you, its a "built environment" & not cow pastures. And that kinda thing goes on FAR further out west than I am. We'll be gobbling up Baldwin before you know it. It's pretty ridiculous.

I've been everywhere, man, locally at least. Yes the built environment includes a lot of sprawl, and yes its a major institutional problem. However it's not particularly connected to the boundaries of Duval County (which is what makes us the "largest city land wise"), and we hardly have the largest built environment or the worst sprawl, even in this state.

JayBird

November 23, 2012, 11:20:24 PM
Agree with Tac, def not the worst of either in this state.  And its amazing how much land is still very "rural" in the westside and northside of the city.  One may even argue that if commuter rail came to Jax it would encourage more sprawl in areas of Green Cove, JIA and Yulee.  But I tend not to rely too much on that 'largest land area' title because it means nothing.  In the US the true largest land area is Sitka, Alaska last time they annexed more empty land and someone had told me that largest county in Florida is Collier (do not quote me on that) but will never be a metropolis.  Why?  Because it is all Everglades!  So I don't think land area can really tell anything about sprawl ... unless it is density figures (i.e. people per square mile)

peestandingup

November 24, 2012, 08:21:33 AM
I'm aware of all that. Again, I see the unconnected mish mash of rural/sub divisions/strip malls every day. A comment was made that it didn't make sense to not concentrate on these already developed walkable areas in the core. My point was that that's clearly not this city's bag & it has little interest in that. The interest is, however, still in these (mostly) undeveloped areas. Like I said, they're not building giant outer beltways for nothing. They're counting on this type of uncontrolled, unnecessary growth. Even though they can barely keep up with what they have now. It'll wreck them in the end.

I didn't say anything about the outer rims of Duval being super developed. That was the point. Its there, it is being developed (sub divisions, gas stations, Super Wal-Marts, etc). Even the very outer rim has that stuff (although some is unfinished). No one is arguing that the westside/northside its worse than some other "more developed" sprawling suburbs. Just that its there, it is part of Jacksonville/Duval, it IS huge, and that it is under the spotlight. All the while huge chunks of the core sit & rot.

wafflez

February 07, 2013, 11:42:19 AM
it's also important to recognize dr. and mrs. kerr of the edison avenue veterinary hospital when talking about both edison ave and north riverside. i know they've both worked hard to do what they could to help keep edison ave alive. their vet clinic has been there for a long long time, like other businesses in the area. i found them by accident and am so glad that i have. walking into the clinic is like stepping back into time, it's a real delight when i had to take my dog there. mrs. kerr also fought hard to bring the animal care & protective services building to the area, which she obviously did successfully. they also participate in north riverside community group (whose name escapes me at this moment) and have a real passion for the area. i also know that dr. kerr has recently had some health issues and i urge everyone to keep him in your thoughts, losing him and his low-cost vet clinic will be a real blow to jacksonville and the potential of the north riverside area.

Adam W

February 08, 2013, 09:51:12 AM
it's also important to recognize dr. and mrs. kerr of the edison avenue veterinary hospital when talking about both edison ave and north riverside. i know they've both worked hard to do what they could to help keep edison ave alive. their vet clinic has been there for a long long time, like other businesses in the area. i found them by accident and am so glad that i have. walking into the clinic is like stepping back into time, it's a real delight when i had to take my dog there. mrs. kerr also fought hard to bring the animal care & protective services building to the area, which she obviously did successfully. they also participate in north riverside community group (whose name escapes me at this moment) and have a real passion for the area. i also know that dr. kerr has recently had some health issues and i urge everyone to keep him in your thoughts, losing him and his low-cost vet clinic will be a real blow to jacksonville and the potential of the north riverside area.

The Kerr's referred to in my earlier post! I went to high school with their son, Daniel. I had never been to Lackawanna until Daniel took me over to his house one day after school. I'm sad to hear his father isn't well. They've been in that neighborhood for a really long time.
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