Urban Neighborhoods: Riverview

March 26, 2013 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville shares the history of an early 20th century Northside development that was originally intended to become Jacksonville's most valuable and desirable suburb: Riverview

Dr. E.H. Armstrong in 1914.

Four decades before Arlington became known as Jacksonville's rapidly growing suburb, there was Riverview. Perched on hills and bluffs between the Trout and Ribault Rivers, Riverview is one of the few neighborhoods outside of the historic urban core that was designed to be every bit as walkable and grand as Riverside/Avondale, Springfield, and San Marco.

Ten years after the Great Fire of 1901, Jacksonville had become a major boomtown in the Southeast.  Attempting to take advantage of the area's popularity and energy, Dr. E.H. Armstrong platted and began to develop Riverview in 1911. Although Armstrong's office was located in downtown's Heard Bank Building, his home was located on rural family property that would become Riverview.

At the time, Armstrong envisioned Jacksonville growing to a population of 400,000 within a few short years (a feat that would not be accomplished until the 1968 city/county merger) and his Riverview becoming the area's most valuable property.  Calling it a million dollar suburb, the remote location was specifically marketed to the "intelligent caucasian race", reflecting the Jim Crow racial caste system of the region at the time.

A massive development even in today's era, Riverview contained 3,000 50'x100' residential lots on 600 acres of hills, gridded streets and waterfront.  By 1914, typical residential lots were priced between $450 and $650, while the asking price for larger riverfront homesites ranged from $1,800 to $2,500.  

In addition, he converted his waterfront home's property into a 25-acre waterfront public park, with fine fishing, boating, bathing, etc. Known as the Riverview Tropical Gardens, it became local showplace in the 1930’s & 40’s, attracting over 15,000 visitors in 1936. It was well known for its garden trails that led visitors past lovely native and imported trees, surrounded by blooming lilies, azaleas, and roses.

Because Riverview was five miles north of the city there was no streetcar service available.  To overcome this accessibility issue, a double bus service, featuring 20 daily trips to downtown Jacksonville between 6am and 11pm was provided. Lem Turner Road served as the community's commercial heart and industries such as boat building were encouraged to located there. The road now known as Lem Turner Road was known as "Turner Ferry Road" at the turn of the century. Prior to the Civil War, there had been a bridge over the Trout River. It was burned by the Union Army, so Lemuel "Lem" Turner (1831-1912) started a ferry service.

Lemuel "Lem" Turner

Despite Armstrong's vision, investment and marketing of Riverview, his community's greatest years of development would not occur until after World War II when suburban growth accelerated north of Jacksonville.  In 1968, 57 years after Armstrong's plat of Riverside, it finally became a part of Jacksonville when the city consolidated with Duval County.

Page 2: Riverview in 1914

Page 3: Lem Turner Road Today

Page 4: Residential Riverview

Page 5: Riverview's Waterfront

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