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A Different Era: Downtown Jacksonville

Metro Jacksonville shares sights and scenes of downtown Jacksonville taken during the early 20th century.

Published September 2, 2013 in History      16 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article






4. Forsyth at Laura Street.  The Mercantile Exchange Bank eventually was expanded and is now known as the Laura Trio's Marble Bank.



5. The same Forsyth Street scene a few years later.



6. Hemming Plaza.  The Windsor Hotel in the background is now the site of the federal courthouse.



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16 Comments

Noone

September 02, 2013, 06:10:19 AM
Beautiful pictures.

rmblade

September 02, 2013, 10:47:36 AM
Great series of photos. Two, especially, struck me: #2, Main St., with its narrow lanes, tree lined curbs and trolley tracks, seems surprisingly contemporary—lots of modern street designs try for the same sort of thing. #18, Forsyth street, with at least three cyclists on it—another foreshadowing of life today.

DDC

September 02, 2013, 11:58:45 AM
Love this!! Great job. Question though, #6 of Hemming Park with the St James in the background, isn't that the Windsor? And when was that hotel, which ever it is, built and demolished?

Keith-N-Jax

September 02, 2013, 12:00:30 PM
Nice, really wish we still had many of those buildings.. Especially the Post Office building.

thelakelander

September 02, 2013, 12:04:47 PM
Love this!! Great job. Question though, #6 of Hemming Park with the St James in the background, isn't that the Windsor? And when was that hotel, which ever it is, built and demolished?

Yes, that's the Windsor Hotel. It originally opened in 1875.  The structure in the image was built after the original was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1901.  It was torn down in 1950 for a parking lot.  The JCPenney/F.W. Woolworth building opened on the site five years later.

DDC

September 02, 2013, 01:12:41 PM
Love this!! Great job. Question though, #6 of Hemming Park with the St James in the background, isn't that the Windsor? And when was that hotel, which ever it is, built and demolished?

Yes, that's the Windsor Hotel. It originally opened in 1875.  The structure in the image was built after the original was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1901.  It was torn down in 1950 for a parking lot.  The JCPenney/F.W. Woolworth building opened on the site five years later.

Thanks, That was a beautiful building.  :)

dougsandiego

September 02, 2013, 09:50:27 PM
What a lovely city. Looking closely, one can see the pride taken in so many details of the buildings, even those at the wharf.

HisBuffPVB

September 03, 2013, 11:12:31 AM
Great effort for the collection of these pictures. 

mbwright

September 03, 2013, 02:31:16 PM
I especially like the parks.  What a difference compared to now.  And, modern trolleys!!

Bolles_Bull

September 03, 2013, 04:28:49 PM
Simple things like street level signs, streetcar transit lines, high visibility of the retail in every building.  Compare to now where you have no idea what is going on inside each building, no signage, huge parking garages taking up whole city blocks.

Its sad to see how much more vibrant it all used to look. 

Another thing, look and see how the streets dead end at the river and from the river you can see up the street.  Downtown has a small slope up from the river but you never notice it becasuse the river is sheilded from view.

Imagine today if you could be downtown and see what was going on at the river just by looking south, or be at the river and see all the way up laura street and see the activity.

I really wish the could renovate the landing to add those sight lines, and do it all along the southbank actually.

icarus

September 03, 2013, 04:44:04 PM
I think one of the big critiques of the Landing was that it didn't allow Laura Street or at the least the view from Laura Street go all the way to river.  Essentially, the design cut the rest of Downtown off from the river. 

I do think that Sleiman may have once discussed opening it up in conjunction with adding some additional space to the the west end of the Landing on the cul de sac (i.e. public land) as a trade off. 

simms3

September 04, 2013, 12:54:02 AM
Referencing what the Visit Jacksonville guy said in THIS article, the Jacksonville waterfront is one of the least engaging waterfronts in the country.  Not only are there seemingly few boats ever on the water anywhere, the riverwalk is lame and the activity level along the waterfront is nonexistent.  It certainly would have helped to keep some of those piers for future rehab into touristy or fun uses...SF and Hudson side of NYC waterfront keep in mind as easily the most engaging waterfronts in America thanks to their extensive piers that are now re-adapted to 21st century or touristy uses while still keeping a few primary uses, such as for ferries, fisheries, actual docks, etc.

Seeing THIS thread in particular reminds me of what we lost.  The below pictures come to mind when pondering the extensive wharf network the city had at one point and the merchant/waterfront feel and look the city once had and now only has in sparing doses, one building here, another there a block away, etc.










Granted most of the wharves appeared to be wood and likely would have burned down at some point or another, clear fire hazards (wooden industrial structures containing stacks of plywood), but something could have been built.  SF's piers are all heavy stone construction and very easily stand the test of time, but they were wooden at one point and even somewhat recently a stone pier not yet re-adapted for a new use caught fire and largely burned.  Now every pier I can think of has some sort of unique public use and the waterfront is packed for miles...waterfront restaurants where it's often impossible to get a table, 2 cruise terminals, an aquarium, a new $400M exploratorium museum, the Ferry Building, Bloomberg offices, America's Cup pavilion, museum ships docked at one, Alcatraz Tours, Pier 39, new brewery going up on one, new Warrior's Arena going up on another, etc etc.  Options are limitless with waterfront piers...

Jacksonville's identity was once its shipbuilding and merchant marine industry, which gave the city its look and feel, a smaller version of SF, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, etc...all of these cities have vibrant waterfronts today and have kept their identities over a century or longer as a result, while Jacksonville lost its and has no interesting waterfront.  The Vist Jax CEO is on to something there.

Sharonajax

December 29, 2013, 08:10:34 AM
Sad thing is how hard it has become to access the Southbank Riverwalk. It has gotten to the point of being in such bad shape that it needs to be redone.  I understand the COJ wants to do this. That is fine for the people who live in the condos/apartments there. However, on a recent trip to the Southbank I was unable to find parking!  Every lot along the way contained signage advising of possible towing of vehicle if you parked there...or you would have to pay for valet parking at Friendship Park. Not very friendly.  All we wanted to do was to walk our dogs. (Yes, we are good dog owners and clean up messes)  Back in the 80's when the Riverwalk was constructed, there were plenty of places to park.  Also businesses to enjoy.  There was no lack of people walking, running, exercising.  Conversations were easy to start with complete strangers. The COJ needs to have a look at this parking situation.  The suburbs are where most of the taxpayers live.  If they want to create a vibrant downtown, then give people access to it. Why should the COJ update something the people can not use?

mtraininjax

December 29, 2013, 10:43:11 AM
Quote
Jacksonville's identity was once its shipbuilding and merchant marine industry, which gave the city its look and feel, a smaller version of SF, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, etc...all of these cities have vibrant waterfronts today and have kept their identities over a century or longer as a result, while Jacksonville lost its and has no interesting waterfront.  The Vist Jax CEO is on to something there.

Amen, our river really does not get used ENOUGH to support our local tourism. We had a swim from JU to RAM one day and that have kayakers and folks following from one end of the river in downtown to another end. But what else do we do? Shoot off fireworks every couple of months?

We used to have fun events like "Tall Ships" come to town and they would mimic old pirate battles. There is the talk of bringing a US Navy ship downtown, then to recover the southbank wood planks, the city removed the old Maritime Museum, of course we still have the historic placards at the Landing to show what "Cowford" was really all about back in the day, but the city has lost its identity as a maritime city. We have such a wonderful natural resource, we should be showing it off daily with more than just water taxis to take you from the northbank to the southbank.

I hope the new Visit Jacksonville person can bring back what Jacksonville was, a maritime city, because we need our identity back.

urbanlibertarian

December 29, 2013, 12:14:43 PM
" However, on a recent trip to the Southbank I was unable to find parking!  Every lot along the way contained signage advising of possible towing of vehicle if you parked there...or you would have to pay for valet parking at Friendship Park. Not very friendly.  All we wanted to do was to walk our dogs."

Are pets allowed on the skyway?  If so you could have parked in the almost always empty Kings Ave garage.

Noone

December 29, 2013, 12:42:00 PM
Sad thing is how hard it has become to access the Southbank Riverwalk. It has gotten to the point of being in such bad shape that it needs to be redone.  I understand the COJ wants to do this. That is fine for the people who live in the condos/apartments there. However, on a recent trip to the Southbank I was unable to find parking!  Every lot along the way contained signage advising of possible towing of vehicle if you parked there...or you would have to pay for valet parking at Friendship Park. Not very friendly.  All we wanted to do was to walk our dogs. (Yes, we are good dog owners and clean up messes)  Back in the 80's when the Riverwalk was constructed, there were plenty of places to park.  Also businesses to enjoy.  There was no lack of people walking, running, exercising.  Conversations were easy to start with complete strangers. The COJ needs to have a look at this parking situation.  The suburbs are where most of the taxpayers live.  If they want to create a vibrant downtown, then give people access to it. Why should the COJ update something the people can not use?

What a great first post. Welcome to the forum. If you want to see Downtown from the river shoot me a pm and bring your dogs. It won't be from a kayak but from a boat. We'll make it a Jacksonville memory that we will both cherish. I'm serious. Just let me know if its even an option that you would consider.
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