Great Public Spaces: Memorial Park

December 4, 2013 11 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville's Lauren Parker and Andrew Smith take a visit to a great Jacksonville public space that was designed by the famed Olmsted Brothers: Memorial Park.

An aerial of Memorial Park during the 1920s. Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

In memory of the 1,200 Floridians who served and died in World War I, this park spans across 5.85 acres at 1620 Riverside Avenue. An ideal place to go for a bike ride or take your dog for a walk, the cool breeze of the St. Johns River offers a great sense of relaxation and meditation. This park was proposed by George Hardee in 1918 and a year later the land was purchased for $125,000. The Citizens Committee was formed by Hardee and included Ninah Cummer, Edith Gray and Mary Cline. After raising another $52,000, they commission Charles Adrian Pillars to build the sculpture Life and hired the famous Olmsted Brothers to design the park.

Easter service at Memorial Park in 1947. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

In 1924 upon completion of the park, Life was erected. On Christmas Day the park and memorial were dedicated. What makes Life so iconic to Jacksonville is the not just the winged man who presents tribute to the fallen soldiers but the swirling bodies he stands on. Blending together within the bronze dome are several bodies that appear as if in movement and become one to show how the memories of the fallen will always live on. Within this dome is a parchment with a list of all 1,200 names of the Floridians who died. The paper was placed inside a lead box and then was placed inside a bronze box that resides within the statue.

Jacksonville Chapter, American Red Cross Motor Corps members act as chaperones to a group of young ladies who met in Riverside Memorial Park to go as guests to Camp Blanding dances for enlisted men in 1942. Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Article by Lauren Parker

Next Page: A Photographic Tour of Memorial Park

 1 2 NEXT