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Four Things That Nearly Wiped Jacksonville Off The Map

Many people know that Jacksonville was once almost completely destroyed by fire in 1901. At least they do now. Twenty years ago, this was not widely known, but now the memory is so revived that there is even a commissioned Public Art work commemorating The Great Fire of 1901. What is not as well known is that the Historic City of Jacksonville has been completely devastated four times since 1846. Join us after the jump for details.

Published February 26, 2013 in History      44 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article





Once by Water:  Outstanding Hurricane of 1846

     After ravaging Cuba on October 10-11, 1846, a powerful hurricane headed for the Florida Keys.  Gale force winds hit Key West about 10:00 in the morning of the 11th with hurricane force winds arriving about 2:00 in the afternoon.  A Lieutenant Pease rode out the hurricane with 29 other men in a small navy ship in Key West Harbor.  By 4:00 p.m., the air was so full of water that no one could face the wind.  Houses, lumber and other ships drifted by, and the sea broke over the navy ship a number of times bringing lumber and other items onboard.  Hurricane force winds abated during the night, but gale force winds continued at midnight.

     Morning of the 12th found the navy ship aground on a shoal and surrounded by numerous other wrecked ships of various kinds and sizes.  Two people who had drowned were picked up but how many more drowned from the other ships was not known.  At Key West, the lighthouse was reduced to rubble, and there was a white sand beach where the lighthouse had stood.  At Sand Key, nothing was left to ever show there was a lighthouse there.  Water completely covered that bit of land.  All told, 20 people died at the two lighthouses.

     The tide at Key West was five feet high and was running through the center of the town at a speed of 6 mph.  All the inhabitants of the town had run to the back part of it where the elevation was somewhat higher.  They went into the bushes, laid down and held on.  The marine hospital at Key West was a stone building, but the roof had been blown off, 32 feet of stone had washed away at one corner of it and 15 feet were gone at another corner.  Only about 6 out of 600 houses on Key West stood the storm well – the rest were either destroyed or unroofed.  Every wharf was either demolished or damaged, and all the warehouses were either destroyed or severely damaged.

     The Fort on Key West was a mass of rubble, and all buildings at the Fort were destroyed.  Estimated loss to the government alone was thought to be at least $200,000.  All streets and roads were impassable as they were covered with debris from all the wrecked buildings.  All told, the number of casualties on land and from ships at and near Key West exceeded 40.

     As the hurricane proceeded northward, it went between Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida.  Every sawmill around Jacksonville lost all logs, and every wharf at Jacksonville was destroyed, as were several buildings adjoining the St. Johns River.  The water rose 6 feet above the normal high water mark, flooding most of the stores on Bay Street which parallels St. Johns River.

     Every indication is that the Outstanding Hurricane of 1846 was what would now be called a Category Five by the time it reached Jacksonville.  Contemporary accounts detail the great Wharves that lined the St. Johns River being ripped up by their moorings by the calamitous winds.  One was thrown nearly a thousand feet inland in the force of the storm.

    Archaeologists at the Kingsley Plantation long wondered why historic artifacts seem to be so shallow in the ground and so little structural evidence remains of the era preceding 1850, but weather historians explain that a monster hurricane like the one that hit in 1846 carried as much as two feet of the topsoil away from several of the Sea Islands.

     Little is known about how the city leadership responded to the damage, or what measures they took to rebuild, many of those records were destroyed in the Great Fire.

    The wreckage was devastating, and yet it still wasn't enough to stop the steady and explosive growth of the City of Jacksonville from proceeding apace.

The answer in any case boiled down to:  Rebuilding and increased trade.



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44 Comments

dougskiles

February 26, 2013, 05:30:28 AM
Brilliantly done.  I am reading the history of LaVilla that you sent me, Stephen.  Yesterday after a meeting at one of the newer suburban style offices built in LaVilla I drove around.  It is sickened me to think about the character of what we destroyed.

sheclown

February 26, 2013, 05:39:19 AM
Nice Job Stephen!!

stephendare

February 26, 2013, 06:24:57 AM
Brilliantly done.  I am reading the history of LaVilla that you sent me, Stephen.  Yesterday after a meeting at one of the newer suburban style offices built in LaVilla I drove around.  It is sickened me to think about the character of what we destroyed.

Thanks guys! And Doug, that's just one aspect of the amazing history of that heritage from La Villa.  Its the site of some of the most incredible history in the US.  And we tore it down for a concrete gate courthouse.

thelakelander

February 26, 2013, 06:45:43 AM
Simply horrible.  Looking at the disasters, the detonation of downtown in the name of revitalization is already a knock out blow that has been worse than yellow jack, the 1901 fire and the 1846 hurricane combined.  For many in our community, the solution is opposite of rebuild.  It's destroy, suck dry the remaining revenue base and use the cash to subsidize unsustainable development in the city's fringes.  At some point, our children and grandchildren will have a bill they can't pay, in an atmosphere that resembles any interstate exit across Anyplace USA, but that's their problem.

gedo3

February 26, 2013, 07:39:31 AM
Definitely one of your best articles...and also one of the saddest.  Thanks for all your hard work and efforts for this. 

charactercountsinjax

February 26, 2013, 07:56:13 AM
Our capacity to evolve personally and as a community is predicated on our willingness to learn, integrate and move forward.  THANK YOU for these thoughtful looks at our past, so we may NOT make the same mistakes again.

I believe we are in great times of INTEGRATION. How we leave our egos aside and work to collaborate with trustworthiness and respect will be the testament of our generation. I see many great efforts in our city and pray each and every day that we are able to come together to create a community that honors our past and bravely steps forward. Achieving that balance is the hallmark of an educated community willing to learn, evolve and create anew.

Thank you for getting me even more passionate about the future of our city and the impact Character Counts! in Jacksonville can have.

Noone

February 26, 2013, 08:16:43 AM
The DIA is on the way. Nice article. So are the tables and chairs in Hemming Plaza in or out? Tonight at city council we could be waiving the residency requirements for JSO. Obviously somebody is not all in. Lori Boyer, John Crescimbeni at the last Jacksonville Waterways Commission meeting are looking in to the end of Catherine St. That is next to Shipyards III that was misrepresented by OGC in the 2013 FIND grant application process. There is an opportunity to provide a spark that could rebuild and market our St. Johns River our American Heritage River a FEDERAL Initiative in our newly created Zone to the world.

Anyone want to kayak from a Downtown launch that doesn't have a Mayor Brown kayak logo and we'll fish under the brand new No Fishing signs that was never before Waterways.

Garden guy

February 26, 2013, 08:26:50 AM
Who wants to go downtown..the conservative home guard have been working for years
To hand over the entire city to the first baptist church..i call for them to be taxed as the business they are and be banned from purchasing any more property downtown..its ridiculously how this group has been allowed control this city and its leaders....how many members from that church are on the  council?..im ashamed and imbarrassed by them and the way they treat people and the city

Tacachale

February 26, 2013, 08:43:49 AM
Nice article. And interesting take on 1846. I haven't heard of the hurricane connection outside of this site.

fsujax

February 26, 2013, 08:57:27 AM
so how do we recover from the Dynamite disaster?

thelakelander

February 26, 2013, 09:14:49 AM
A mobility fee moratorium should do the trick.

KenFSU

February 26, 2013, 09:16:43 AM
Great work Stephen!

Really enjoyed this one, especially the Yellow Jack details.

ronchamblin

February 26, 2013, 09:27:50 AM
Excellent article Stephen.  What would be very interesting too, would be to understand the fundamental mechanisms through which individuals or groups made the decisions resulting in the destruction you’ve outlined in the article.  There seems to have been, hidden from the view of the average person, a momentum of control, or decision making, which has for decades obviously not been for the good of the downtown core, but has been, apparently, for the good of someone, or some group. 

One might wonder today, how much of the same mechanism is at work, and how can it be confronted, weakened, or removed so that only positive decisions and moves can be made, so that the downtown core can be allowed to achieve a strength and independence we’ve not seen since the fifties and sixties.  The city core is a dependent entity now, almost childlike, whereas it was an independent powerhouse decades ago.  It is as if the city core is a living entity, and this, simply because it has become weak, dependent, childlike, controllable, and always in need of desperate assistance. 

However, the core can again be made strong and independent, like an adult, assuming a self-sustaining momentum.  And thus, it will require almost no control or assistance simply because it will have become its own prime mover, its own powerhouse of energy.  The removal of control by those who are comfortably favored by it, and the offering of freedom to the creative abilities of individuals who can make the magic, should be the goal of those desiring full vibrancy in the city core.     

jcjohnpaint

February 26, 2013, 09:32:54 AM
Very well done!  Thanks

hightowerlover

February 26, 2013, 10:23:54 AM
I think Jacksonville was a victim of dynamite because it was a city with big ambitions, one where they never saw downtown as doing anything other than booming.  Not realizing that tearing down the historic buildings gave it charm, energy and life. They just didn't want to have to walk too far to park to shop in downtown.  Now we have a city of surface parking lots, with not much to see or do.  While it's a shame to lose so much history, the city is primed for an urban renewal by eliminating one parking lot at a time.  The availability of prime real estate, without blocks of historic landmarks, will allow developers a clean slate to create a future city in the image that Jacksonville needs and wants today.  I just hope it is rebuilt more sustainable for the next 100 years.

Cheshire Cat

February 26, 2013, 12:12:19 PM
Excellent article in every way Stephen!

BIG CHEESE 723

February 26, 2013, 01:50:04 PM
Thank you, Stephen!  What a great article, as usual.

dougskiles

February 26, 2013, 01:51:30 PM
Brilliantly done.  I am reading the history of La Villa that you sent me, Stephen.  Yesterday after a meeting at one of the newer suburban style offices built in La Villa I drove around.  It is sickened me to think about the character of what we destroyed.

Thanks guys! And Doug, that's just one aspect of the amazing history of that heritage from La Villa.  Its the site of some of the most incredible history in the US.  And we tore it down for a concrete gate courthouse.

I am eager for more.

As far as when the end started, if you ask me, it was the Jim Crow era.  The thriving black community popped to life almost instantly after the end of the civil war.  La Villa was incorporated in 1866.  Many of the businesses and properties were owned by African Americans.  Shortly after Jacksonville annexed La Villa in 1887, the Jim Crow laws started coming.  By 1907, the last remaining African American councilman, George Ross, was voted out of office.

I was surprised to find out that in 1900, not only was Jacksonville the largest city in Florida, the population was 57 percent African American.  Just imagine where we would be today if our city had chosen to celebrate diversity and the new economic freedom of an entire race, instead of finding ways to beat them down.

stephendare

February 26, 2013, 02:26:48 PM
Brilliantly done.  I am reading the history of La Villa that you sent me, Stephen.  Yesterday after a meeting at one of the newer suburban style offices built in La Villa I drove around.  It is sickened me to think about the character of what we destroyed.

Thanks guys! And Doug, that's just one aspect of the amazing history of that heritage from La Villa.  Its the site of some of the most incredible history in the US.  And we tore it down for a concrete gate courthouse.

I am eager for more.

As far as when the end started, if you ask me, it was the Jim Crow era.  The thriving black community popped to life almost instantly after the end of the civil war.  La Villa was incorporated in 1866.  Many of the businesses and properties were owned by African Americans.  Shortly after Jacksonville annexed La Villa in 1887, the Jim Crow laws started coming.  By 1907, the last remaining African American councilman, George Ross, was voted out of office.

I was surprised to find out that in 1900, not only was Jacksonville the largest city in Florida, the population was 57 percent African American.  Just imagine where we would be today if our city had chosen to celebrate diversity and the new economic freedom of an entire race, instead of finding ways to beat them down.

Well I think you might be relieved to find out that its not as cut and dried as all that.

The Fire itself had a bit of a "Katrina Effect".  Jacksonville had always been a multi racial town and county.  Outside of the history of LaVilla, the major Plantations of the area were Black owned and operated.  The Kingsley Plantation was run by Zephaniah and Anna Kingsleys 'mulatto' sons.  Reddy Point was run by the daughter of Kingsley's second African wife (yes polygamy) Martha Baxter, Anna ended up living where the JU Grounds are today, and Strawberry Mills was another daughter of Zephaniah and Anna, who married into the Sammis Family.  The Sanchez Plantation, which was where San Jose is now was another multiracial landowning family.  So there had always been a wealthy black presence here mixed with the French and Scottish families that controlled trade  from Jville to the west and north of Jville.

Mary Sammis, in fact married Abraham Lincoln Lewis who founded the Afro American Insurance Company which made him the first Black Millionaire in Florida history---funded largely through Mary's family money.

But after the Great Fire, there just werent resources to go around for a year and many of the old wealthy and poor had to relocate elsewhere for a time.  In their place, Northern people---many of whom were terribly racist and used to NYC where even the Irish werent considered 'White" started arriving in droves from all over.

It was enough to threaten the old guard racial alliances, as families like the Genovars (a successful minorcan grocer after whom Genovar Hall is named, and the family who donated the Land for the Old Stanton School to provide first rate education to black children---he donated it to Earthlyn White who was considered a leading woman in the area.) and the Whites struggled to make sense of the new racial laws brought by the newcomers. 

In 1903 there was the first Trolley strike after the city (narrowly) passed a law which prevented mixed race trolley cars.  Jville was predictably outraged and Earthlyn vowed never to ride another Trolley for the rest of her life (a promise she made good on).  The complicating factor in the race trolley strikes was the fact that two of the main Trolley companies were Black owned.  You can imagine.

However, I think the real beginning of La Villa's fifty five year decline started in 1916 during a general economic collapse that sent shockwaves through the country.  It is actually the beginning of what is now called "The Great Migration" as black workers fled the economic and jim crow laws of the South (many of which Jacksonville had floated and then simply abandoned until the 1920s.).  But Jacksonville had an important set of African American Connections to the larger economy.  Asa Phillip Randolph had organized the Pullman's Union and had remarkable sway in the hiring offices of the railroads.  When the economy was particularly destitute during that Panic, things were desperate enough that over 15 thousand African American Jaxsons picked up as families and left to be relocated on the railroads---specifically Harlem New York, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Chicago.

Keep in mind that in those days, LaVilla wasnt just a successful independent city from Jacksonville that merged during the second Consolidation.  (our consolidation in 1967 is actually the third in the history of the city)  It was a downtown that had a very wealthy neighborhood immediately to its west: Sugar Hill.  Sugar Hill and LaVilla worked a lot the way that Uptown Springfield and Downtown worked.

Anyways, Booker T. Washington was in business with the principal of the Stanton School: James Weldon Johnson.  One of their investors and patrons was Abraham Lincoln Lewis.

The upshot of this was that many of our leading intellectuals and black businessmen--including a fairly important former Jaxson Timothy Thomas Fortune, the Dean of Black Journalism who had relocated to New York in the late 80s ( http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php?topic=10759.0) ended up in Harlem.  Funded by A.L. Lewis's fortune, and Asa Phillip Randolph's national power, Booker T. Washington and James Weldon Johnson ended up meeting Langston Hughes.  With the Fortune Connection, printer relationships and distribution networks were natural and they provided the genesis of the Harlem Renaissance.

But I think the migration of so many of the wealthy Jacksonville Families trying to care for the education of their children and family members during the reconstruction followed by the economic instability which eventually led to the establishment of The Federal Reserve was the real culprit.

There wasnt anyone to resist the largely young and single, fortune seeking bigots who streamed into Jville after The Great Fire looking for opportunity.

Tacachale

February 26, 2013, 02:37:37 PM
Brilliantly done.  I am reading the history of La Villa that you sent me, Stephen.  Yesterday after a meeting at one of the newer suburban style offices built in La Villa I drove around.  It is sickened me to think about the character of what we destroyed.

Thanks guys! And Doug, that's just one aspect of the amazing history of that heritage from La Villa.  Its the site of some of the most incredible history in the US.  And we tore it down for a concrete gate courthouse.

I am eager for more.

As far as when the end started, if you ask me, it was the Jim Crow era.  The thriving black community popped to life almost instantly after the end of the civil war.  La Villa was incorporated in 1866.  Many of the businesses and properties were owned by African Americans.  Shortly after Jacksonville annexed La Villa in 1887, the Jim Crow laws started coming.  By 1907, the last remaining African American councilman, George Ross, was voted out of office.

I was surprised to find out that in 1900, not only was Jacksonville the largest city in Florida, the population was 57 percent African American.  Just imagine where we would be today if our city had chosen to celebrate diversity and the new economic freedom of an entire race, instead of finding ways to beat them down.

What's remarkable is that Jacksonville had at least one black councilman from Reconstruction until 1907, despite the abandonment of federal protection for blacks and the onset of "The Nadir" of race relations in America. It shows how resilient Jacksonville's African American community has always been.

stephendare

February 26, 2013, 02:46:33 PM
Jacksonville had a long history of Black elected officials before hand.  City assemblymen, Sheriffs, and even the only elected Black member of Congress from Florida, Josiah T. Walls  http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php?topic=10792.0



Military enforcement of Reconstruction in Florida ended in 1868 http://baic.house.gov/images/profiles/walls-josiah.jpg and was formally over in 1870.  He was elected as our Representative to the United States Congress in 1871, but the vote was contested by Silas L. Niblack. The U.S. Committee on Elections eventually unseated Walls. However, Walls ran and was elected again in 1873.

After serving one term in the house he ran for re-election in 1874.

He won the election again, but Jesse Finley contested this and was eventually declared the winner by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. This unseating was the end of Walls political career. But the defeat was at the hands of Washington, not the voters of Jville.

In office, Walls introduced bills to establish a national education fund and aid pensioners and Seminole War Veterans.

thelakelander

February 26, 2013, 03:01:34 PM
What's remarkable is that Jacksonville had at least one black councilman from Reconstruction until 1907, despite the abandonment of federal protection for blacks and the onset of "The Nadir" of race relations in America. It shows how resilient Jacksonville's African American community has always been.

It also shows how far we've fallen.  For me it gets pretty frustrating at times. The good thing is that we've accomplished great things in the past, so we're not starting from scratch in trying to rebuild. We have a lot of potential. It's just a matter of not tripping over our own two feet, which is more difficult than most elsewhere would believe.

Tacachale

February 26, 2013, 03:48:55 PM
What's remarkable is that Jacksonville had at least one black councilman from Reconstruction until 1907, despite the abandonment of federal protection for blacks and the onset of "The Nadir" of race relations in America. It shows how resilient Jacksonville's African American community has always been.

It also shows how far we've fallen.  For me it gets pretty frustrating at times. The good thing is that we've accomplished great things in the past, so we're not starting from scratch in trying to rebuild. We have a lot of potential. It's just a matter of not tripping over our own two feet, which is more difficult than most elsewhere would believe.

Ha, I don't think 1907 was a time to look up to. After that African Americans were almost totally disenfranchised from voting in state and local elections for 39 years.

stephendare

February 26, 2013, 03:52:52 PM
Although the african american community of Jville went on to help pioneer blues and Jazz, provide the spark for Soul Music, sponsor Zora Neal Hurston, establish a black film industry, and introduce a young baseball player named Hank Aaron to the nation even in the darkest political years.

thelakelander

February 26, 2013, 04:01:44 PM
Quote
It also shows how far we've fallen.  For me it gets pretty frustrating at times. The good thing is that we've accomplished great things in the past, so we're not starting from scratch in trying to rebuild. We have a lot of potential. It's just a matter of not tripping over our own two feet, which is more difficult than most elsewhere would believe.

When said this, I wasn't speaking specifically of the African American community. I was talking about Jax in general.

With that said, Jacksonville's minority neighborhoods were more viable a century ago.  We (speaking as an African American) had no choice but to invest and live in specific neighborhoods like LaVilla and Sugar Hill.

Ocklawaha

February 26, 2013, 11:02:51 PM
Who wants to go downtown..the conservative home guard have been working for years
To hand over the entire city to the first baptist church..i call for them to be taxed as the business they are and be banned from purchasing any more property downtown..its ridiculously how this group has been allowed control this city and its leaders....how many members from that church are on the  council?..im ashamed and imbarrassed by them and the way they treat people and the city

Why do you even bother to post this crap GG, though it does confirm you as a very low information citizen. How many members on the council? Perhaps you should ask how many members are involved in publishing MJ?  BTW, FBC is the ONLY institution in the downtown core to actually build out the urban plans of the last few decades, skywalks, street beautification, fountains, etc.

stephendare

February 26, 2013, 11:14:44 PM
Who wants to go downtown..the conservative home guard have been working for years
To hand over the entire city to the first baptist church..i call for them to be taxed as the business they are and be banned from purchasing any more property downtown..its ridiculously how this group has been allowed control this city and its leaders....how many members from that church are on the  council?..im ashamed and imbarrassed by them and the way they treat people and the city

Why do you even bother to post this crap GG, though it does confirm you as a very low information citizen. How many members on the council? Perhaps you should ask how many members are involved in publishing MJ?  BTW, FBC is the ONLY institution in the downtown core to actually build out the urban plans of the last few decades, skywalks, street beautification, fountains, etc.

like two of the founding members of metjax, and one of the publishers of this website.  The mysterious Mr. X who was one of the metjax founding group is still a regular at the church, and I grew up there.  My partner and business partner at Boomtown has been heavily involved in the Ministry at First Baptist for many years, and still is for that matter.

But his works with the homeless, including sheltering a woman in our space for three years, and the many many programs he put together to serve the needy and break down the uncrossable barrier between "gay' and 'baptist' and to ease the racial barriers with the ease of a true spring fielder never get credited to the Church do they?

For that matter, I am seldom confused with the program of First Baptist, even though I've been as involved in years past as any of the cranks like Don Redman and the rest of those clowns.

We see and connect people with institutions in such a way as it suits our purposes, I think.

But as should be evident by this essay, its a little unrealistic to get too comfortable with the stereotypes, no matter what your point of view.

cityimrov

February 26, 2013, 11:18:41 PM
What were cities like San Francisco doing during the same time? 

ronchamblin

February 27, 2013, 12:51:44 AM
Perhaps Garden guy is concerned about the essence of FBC which, by its very nature is a controlling entity; and this control, right in the midst of our urban core, a core which, by its very nature, should enjoy as much freedom as possible so that it might, through the efforts of all hard working and creative individuals in and near the core, emerge through the almost desolate landscape to a position of strength and vibrancy, a goal most of us appear to want for our urban core. 

Our urban core, through the natural process of adapting to changing technology and population growth, has suffered to partial desolation, has become wounded, weak, and dependent, as with a child.  Besides needing sacrifices from its guardians, a child needs the freedom to become independent, strong, and self-sustaining.   

Just as some guardians attempt, for their own selfish gain or comfort, to control and restrict their child so that it remains dependent and safe, so too it might be for some controlling entities in our urban core, those who gain monetary, physical, and/or spiritual comfort via the status quo.  Why should those in established physical or spiritual comfort seek change, or promote freedoms so that others can seek change?  The status quo is comfortable and safe for some, and if they are in positions of influence or control, why would they encourage real change?  Perhaps GG senses that money, wealth, and spiritual and physical comfort, goes hand in hand with power and influence; and therefore hand in hand with control, conservatism and the status quo. 

I suspect that GG is frustrated, and that he occasionally throws a rock in the general direction of the church, knowing that something is wrong, something is going on in that spiritual bulwark which is not good for the urban core.  Perhaps he cannot describe in detail the exact mechanism making up what he perceives as a threat to the urban core’s attempt to grow to a vibrant and self-sustaining powerhouse of independence, but he senses at least one direction from which the threat comes.

GG, along with some others, might be haunted by the question as to whether we want a dominate church surrounded by a weak and dependent urban core, or do we want a strong independent, free, and vibrant urban core which has a church within.  As for my opinion about the subject…. I’m still thinking.  Perhaps another beer might help clarify my thoughts.   

BridgeTroll

February 27, 2013, 01:24:07 PM
Perhaps Garden guy is concerned about the essence of FBC which, by its very nature is a controlling entity; and this control, right in the midst of our urban core, a core which, by its very nature, should enjoy as much freedom as possible so that it might, through the efforts of all hard working and creative individuals in and near the core, emerge through the almost desolate landscape to a position of strength and vibrancy, a goal most of us appear to want for our urban core. 

Our urban core, through the natural process of adapting to changing technology and population growth, has suffered to partial desolation, has become wounded, weak, and dependent, as with a child.  Besides needing sacrifices from its guardians, a child needs the freedom to become independent, strong, and self-sustaining.   

Just as some guardians attempt, for their own selfish gain or comfort, to control and restrict their child so that it remains dependent and safe, so too it might be for some controlling entities in our urban core, those who gain monetary, physical, and/or spiritual comfort via the status quo.  Why should those in established physical or spiritual comfort seek change, or promote freedoms so that others can seek change?  The status quo is comfortable and safe for some, and if they are in positions of influence or control, why would they encourage real change?  Perhaps GG senses that money, wealth, and spiritual and physical comfort, goes hand in hand with power and influence; and therefore hand in hand with control, conservatism and the status quo. 

I suspect that GG is frustrated, and that he occasionally throws a rock in the general direction of the church, knowing that something is wrong, something is going on in that spiritual bulwark which is not good for the urban core.  Perhaps he cannot describe in detail the exact mechanism making up what he perceives as a threat to the urban core’s attempt to grow to a vibrant and self-sustaining powerhouse of independence, but he senses at least one direction from which the threat comes.

GG, along with some others, might be haunted by the question as to whether we want a dominate church surrounded by a weak and dependent urban core, or do we want a strong independent, free, and vibrant urban core which has a church within.  As for my opinion about the subject…. I’m still thinking.  Perhaps another beer might help clarify my thoughts.   


I think you give GG too much credit... his drive-byes are legendary... it is doubtful he will even read these responses..

Redbaron616

February 28, 2013, 08:28:39 PM
If you want downtown to boom, don't hand the job over to the city government. Sell the property to private enterprise and they will figure out how to make the land provide an income for them. It certainly worked in the past. Why is free enterprise despised and more government control and expenditures welcomed? The government spends at least twice or three times what the private sector would to obtain the same result.

BigBlackRod

March 20, 2013, 10:37:12 AM
This is Roderick, who played "N'Della" in Jennifer's play, "Majigeen;" I'd like to thank you for this site. I have learned so much more about Black Jacksonville since I started checking this out. You need a bigger stage...

BrooklynSouth

March 20, 2013, 12:54:21 PM
I live in 5 Points and I cherish whatever is left of the old downtown. And I wonder about people who don't mourn the lost glory of our city. But lately I feel the decline and dynamite-fueled response was due to the rise of new technology, not the result of greed or stupidity. The original downtowns of cities arose because that's where the ports were. Cities grow at bottlenecks of commerce, so if the ships had to dock downtown, then that's where all the trains, producers, manufacturers, banks, and insurers (all the employers) had to set up and so that's where everyone had to live. No one complained when the technologies of the steamship and train created a boom in downtown Jacksonville, but later technologies like highways created a bust that we are still dealing with. We should focus less on negative-nostalgia and more on our vision for how Jacksonville can take advantage of today's technologies to become a leader among cities.

The post-WWII period destroyed the natural monopoly of cities as centers of commerce. When did cargo ships get so large that the ports had to move closer to the ocean? When did the highway system pull cargo off of ships and onto trucks? When did cars become affordable for everyone to ride the new highways? Although it is an island of finance and luxury now, Manhattan was once mostly factories and wharves! After WWI, it had the same problems and the same responses Jacksonville had. We have already forgotten how by the 1970s New York City had become a worrying symbol of national failure. Robert Caro's famous 1974 book about New York City's famous dynamiter and builder Robert Moses was subtitled "The Fall of New York". Would anyone say today that New York City is "fallen"? The factories are gone, but the city grabbed hold of finance at the start of a global financial boom and has been reborn.

I think we need to step away from the nostalgia some times and the glamorous cities in our minds that never really existed except for an elite, lucky few. Cities were pretty filthy place for a long time. Would anyone like the paper factories to reopen downtown to dump stinky pollution into the air and river? Living away from the dirt and noise of the city was a dream-come-true for most. For better or worse, the factories are gone and downtown is now a very clean place ready for a fresh start fresh.

The rise of the information economy and technology in general have given us the oppurtunity to make the downtown better than it ever was. We can reclaim the good parts of the past cities (democracy, culture, commerce) without all the bad parts (pollution, pollution, pollution). To make the downtown a part of the new economy, we need new types of businesses and institutions to move there. UNF's acqusition of MOCA was thrilling to me, because I've seen how VCU has transformed downtown Richmond, and how NYU has filled Greenich Village in Manhattan. UNF should continue expanding downtown with a new law school right near the courthouses and the business school right next to the banks. That would be a job-oriented "public-private partnership" that the mayor says he loves. I'm not saying that we don't need people in occupations of all kinds -- I think the elimination of vocational training in our high schools has been a tragedy for young people. But I am thinking strategically about capturing the BIG money that flows to the cutting-edge businesses that move where the workers are educated and the government and universities are intertwined.

The old downtown was doomed. Dynamiting was a well-intentioned, drastic, and unfortunately ineffective way to try to change the city into something new for the post-WWII economy. Who could have predicted how far cars and television would change our society? My point is that this we need to focus on ideas for downtown that are a part of the high-end of the new global economy. We don't want to compete with China, because those jobs are terrible and pay nothing. The reason China is growing so fast is because it was so poor that there was nowhere to go but up. We want to compete with Houston and Charlotte as one of the new centers of educated workers. In the 1800s, Jacksonville was in a prime position for citrus and timber. What will be our niche in the 21st century?

stephendare

March 20, 2013, 01:39:51 PM
I live in 5 Points and I cherish whatever is left of the old downtown. And I wonder about people who don't mourn the lost glory of our city. But lately I feel the decline and dynamite-fueled response was due to the rise of new technology, not the result of greed or stupidity. The original downtowns of cities arose because that's where the ports were. Cities grow at bottlenecks of commerce, so if the ships had to dock downtown, then that's where all the trains, producers, manufacturers, banks, and insurers (all the employers) had to set up and so that's where everyone had to live. No one complained when the technologies of the steamship and train created a boom in downtown Jacksonville, but later technologies like highways created a bust that we are still dealing with. We should focus less on negative-nostalgia and more on our vision for how Jacksonville can take advantage of today's technologies to become a leader among cities.

The post-WWII period destroyed the natural monopoly of cities as centers of commerce. When did cargo ships get so large that the ports had to move closer to the ocean? When did the highway system pull cargo off of ships and onto trucks? When did cars become affordable for everyone to ride the new highways? Although it is an island of finance and luxury now, Manhattan was once mostly factories and wharves! After WWI, it had the same problems and the same responses Jacksonville had. We have already forgotten how by the 1970s New York City had become a worrying symbol of national failure. Robert Caro's famous 1974 book about New York City's famous dynamiter and builder Robert Moses was subtitled "The Fall of New York". Would anyone say today that New York City is "fallen"? The factories are gone, but the city grabbed hold of finance at the start of a global financial boom and has been reborn.

I think we need to step away from the nostalgia some times and the glamorous cities in our minds that never really existed except for an elite, lucky few. Cities were pretty filthy place for a long time. Would anyone like the paper factories to reopen downtown to dump stinky pollution into the air and river? Living away from the dirt and noise of the city was a dream-come-true for most. For better or worse, the factories are gone and downtown is now a very clean place ready for a fresh start fresh.

The rise of the information economy and technology in general have given us the oppurtunity to make the downtown better than it ever was. We can reclaim the good parts of the past cities (democracy, culture, commerce) without all the bad parts (pollution, pollution, pollution). To make the downtown a part of the new economy, we need new types of businesses and institutions to move there. UNF's acqusition of MOCA was thrilling to me, because I've seen how VCU has transformed downtown Richmond, and how NYU has filled Greenich Village in Manhattan. UNF should continue expanding downtown with a new law school right near the courthouses and the business school right next to the banks. That would be a job-oriented "public-private partnership" that the mayor says he loves. I'm not saying that we don't need people in occupations of all kinds -- I think the elimination of vocational training in our high schools has been a tragedy for young people. But I am thinking strategically about capturing the BIG money that flows to the cutting-edge businesses that move where the workers are educated and the government and universities are intertwined.

The old downtown was doomed. Dynamiting was a well-intentioned, drastic, and unfortunately ineffective way to try to change the city into something new for the post-WWII economy. Who could have predicted how far cars and television would change our society? My point is that this we need to focus on ideas for downtown that are a part of the high-end of the new global economy. We don't want to compete with China, because those jobs are terrible and pay nothing. The reason China is growing so fast is because it was so poor that there was nowhere to go but up. We want to compete with Houston and Charlotte as one of the new centers of educated workers. In the 1800s, Jacksonville was in a prime position for citrus and timber. What will be our niche in the 21st century?

I think this may have been true, to a certain extent up until the 80s, but the part thirty years has just been bad decisions, racism and cupidity.

If_I_Loved_you

March 20, 2013, 01:49:55 PM
I live in 5 Points and I cherish whatever is left of the old downtown. And I wonder about people who don't mourn the lost glory of our city. But lately I feel the decline and dynamite-fueled response was due to the rise of new technology, not the result of greed or stupidity. The original downtowns of cities arose because that's where the ports were. Cities grow at bottlenecks of commerce, so if the ships had to dock downtown, then that's where all the trains, producers, manufacturers, banks, and insurers (all the employers) had to set up and so that's where everyone had to live. No one complained when the technologies of the steamship and train created a boom in downtown Jacksonville, but later technologies like highways created a bust that we are still dealing with. We should focus less on negative-nostalgia and more on our vision for how Jacksonville can take advantage of today's technologies to become a leader among cities.

The post-WWII period destroyed the natural monopoly of cities as centers of commerce. When did cargo ships get so large that the ports had to move closer to the ocean? When did the highway system pull cargo off of ships and onto trucks? When did cars become affordable for everyone to ride the new highways? Although it is an island of finance and luxury now, Manhattan was once mostly factories and wharves! After WWI, it had the same problems and the same responses Jacksonville had. We have already forgotten how by the 1970s New York City had become a worrying symbol of national failure. Robert Caro's famous 1974 book about New York City's famous dynamiter and builder Robert Moses was subtitled "The Fall of New York". Would anyone say today that New York City is "fallen"? The factories are gone, but the city grabbed hold of finance at the start of a global financial boom and has been reborn.

I think we need to step away from the nostalgia some times and the glamorous cities in our minds that never really existed except for an elite, lucky few. Cities were pretty filthy place for a long time. Would anyone like the paper factories to reopen downtown to dump stinky pollution into the air and river? Living away from the dirt and noise of the city was a dream-come-true for most. For better or worse, the factories are gone and downtown is now a very clean place ready for a fresh start fresh.

The rise of the information economy and technology in general have given us the oppurtunity to make the downtown better than it ever was. We can reclaim the good parts of the past cities (democracy, culture, commerce) without all the bad parts (pollution, pollution, pollution). To make the downtown a part of the new economy, we need new types of businesses and institutions to move there. UNF's acqusition of MOCA was thrilling to me, because I've seen how VCU has transformed downtown Richmond, and how NYU has filled Greenich Village in Manhattan. UNF should continue expanding downtown with a new law school right near the courthouses and the business school right next to the banks. That would be a job-oriented "public-private partnership" that the mayor says he loves. I'm not saying that we don't need people in occupations of all kinds -- I think the elimination of vocational training in our high schools has been a tragedy for young people. But I am thinking strategically about capturing the BIG money that flows to the cutting-edge businesses that move where the workers are educated and the government and universities are intertwined.

The old downtown was doomed. Dynamiting was a well-intentioned, drastic, and unfortunately ineffective way to try to change the city into something new for the post-WWII economy. Who could have predicted how far cars and television would change our society? My point is that this we need to focus on ideas for downtown that are a part of the high-end of the new global economy. We don't want to compete with China, because those jobs are terrible and pay nothing. The reason China is growing so fast is because it was so poor that there was nowhere to go but up. We want to compete with Houston and Charlotte as one of the new centers of educated workers. In the 1800s, Jacksonville was in a prime position for citrus and timber. What will be our niche in the 21st century?

I think this may have been true, to a certain extent up until the 80s, but the part thirty years has just been bad decisions, racism and cupidity.
cu·pid·i·ty 
/kyo͞oˈpiditē/
Noun
Greed for money or possessions.
Synonyms
greed - avarice - avidity - rapacity - greediness "Stephen you're right on the money!" ;)

BrooklynSouth

March 20, 2013, 02:49:19 PM
I think this may have been true, to a certain extent up until the 80s, but the part thirty years has just been bad decisions, racism and cupidity.
I think there has always been greed and there always will be. I think the collapse came, maybe in the 80s as you say, when there was no competition left downtown, no other economic powers to push and pull the government and to keep things relatively fair. Everyone else left downtown and the only ones still around were the land speculators that are a particularly powerful force in Florida. I am a liberal, so I would say that the 80s were an especially bad time for the little guy, as factories closed and unions lost power to represent workers. New York City had Donald Trump in this period. I don't know the names, but I'm sure we had our own set of rascals to ruin the city neighborhoods of Jacksonville. My point is still that focusing on the rascals does not help a strategic plan for the city. The rascals will always be around trying to steal land and tax money. Who are the new economic powers that can be recruited as our allies against persistent "rascal-ism"? :)

stephendare

March 20, 2013, 04:37:49 PM
I think this may have been true, to a certain extent up until the 80s, but the part thirty years has just been bad decisions, racism and cupidity.
I think there has always been greed and there always will be. I think the collapse came, maybe in the 80s as you say, when there was no competition left downtown, no other economic powers to push and pull the government and to keep things relatively fair. Everyone else left downtown and the only ones still around were the land speculators that are a particularly powerful force in Florida. I am a liberal, so I would say that the 80s were an especially bad time for the little guy, as factories closed and unions lost power to represent workers. New York City had Donald Trump in this period. I don't know the names, but I'm sure we had our own set of rascals to ruin the city neighborhoods of Jacksonville. My point is still that focusing on the rascals does not help a strategic plan for the city. The rascals will always be around trying to steal land and tax money. Who are the new economic powers that can be recruited as our allies against persistent "rascal-ism"? :)

Well Southerners are slightly different in this respect:  We like to respect our elders and elder generations.  Without a little critical attention, the tendency is to try and repeat the same old 'great' ideas from the past, in hopes of making them work with one final try behind it.

Most people simply did not know why the downtown (and indeed the consolidated taxation structure) buckled and failed, and simply being able to do an accurate post mortem has been kind of necessary.

For example, when the next investor comes in, we cant still be trying to uphold a design which keeps the black residents of Springfield from being able to transit easily between the neighborhoods.

And the next big improvement to downtown doesnt have to be building yet another parking garage to 'fix' the parking problem.

and so on.

Hopefully we provide a mixture of both of these things:  A positive move forward, as well as an accurate method of both criticizing and praising the decisions which have brought us to where we presently are.

rgold

March 20, 2013, 07:12:01 PM
Thanks for the great history/story about Jacksonville! I have lived here all of my life. I love Jax! I actually took dance lessons from Buddy Sherwood and then Gloria Norman@Norman Studio's when I was a child.

Jim Crooks

March 23, 2013, 06:09:11 PM
A fascinating conversation. As some of you know, I have written extensively about downtown since the 1960s in my book, Jacksonville, the Consolidation Story, from Civil Rights to the Jaguars. What so-called urban renewal did to LaVilla was disruptive and dysfunctional. The redevelopment around the sports complex strikes me as creating a viable center. Moving city hall to the St. James building was a good first step, but now we need to develop Hemming Plaza. The stores, museum, library and court house around the Plaza work. The Jacksonville Landing, however, has only fulfilled a small part of its potential, I think due to unimaginative leadership. Originally the convention center was going to be there, across from the Omni, but others had different plans and it currently is removed from downtown. The prosperity of the 1990s helped downtown (eg. more housing). The great recession has hurt. We need creative  minds to move forward.
Jim Crooks

Cheshire Cat

March 23, 2013, 06:16:52 PM
Hi Jim!  Glad you are sharing your thoughts here. :)
Creative minds are certainly important in a community, especially one the size of Jacksonville. Any ideas for Hemming Plaza?

Tacachale

March 23, 2013, 06:20:05 PM
A fascinating conversation. As some of you know, I have written extensively about downtown since the 1960s in my book, Jacksonville, the Consolidation Story, from Civil Rights to the Jaguars. What so-called urban renewal did to LaVilla was disruptive and dysfunctional. The redevelopment around the sports complex strikes me as creating a viable center. Moving city hall to the St. James building was a good first step, but now we need to develop Hemming Plaza. The stores, museum, library and court house around the Plaza work. The Jacksonville Landing, however, has only fulfilled a small part of its potential, I think due to unimaginative leadership. Originally the convention center was going to be there, across from the Omni, but others had different plans and it currently is removed from downtown. The prosperity of the 1990s helped downtown (eg. more housing). The great recession has hurt. We need creative  minds to move forward.
Jim Crooks

Welcome to the forum, professor. It's hard to argue with those comments.

thelakelander

March 23, 2013, 07:11:09 PM
Welcome to the forum, Jim. Glad to have you aboard.

Ocklawaha

March 23, 2013, 08:30:31 PM
A fascinating conversation. As some of you know, I have written extensively about downtown since the 1960s in my book, Jacksonville, the Consolidation Story, from Civil Rights to the Jaguars. What so-called urban renewal did to LaVilla was disruptive and dysfunctional. The redevelopment around the sports complex strikes me as creating a viable center. Moving city hall to the St. James building was a good first step, but now we need to develop Hemming Plaza. The stores, museum, library and court house around the Plaza work. The Jacksonville Landing, however, has only fulfilled a small part of its potential, I think due to unimaginative leadership. Originally the convention center was going to be there, across from the Omni, but others had different plans and it currently is removed from downtown. The prosperity of the 1990s helped downtown (eg. more housing). The great recession has hurt. We need creative  minds to move forward.
Jim Crooks

Hello Jim and welcome!  Creative minds?  What do you think about our heritage streetcar proposals?
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-jan-streetcars-coming-to-downtown-jacksonville
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2012-aug-the-electric-7-a-streetcar-proposal-on-a-shoestring
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-jul-how-to-get-a-streetcar-system-in-jacksonville

stephendare

January 20, 2014, 09:53:35 AM
If you want downtown to boom, don't hand the job over to the city government. Sell the property to private enterprise and they will figure out how to make the land provide an income for them. It certainly worked in the past. Why is free enterprise despised and more government control and expenditures welcomed? The government spends at least twice or three times what the private sector would to obtain the same result.
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