Disappearing Brooklyn: The Riverside Atlantic BankNovember 25, 2015 26 comments Print Article
One of Jacksonville's oldest African-American urban neighborhoods, Brooklyn was platted shortly after the Civil War by Miles Price, a Confederate veteran, in 1868. Connectivity between downtown and Brooklyn via the opening of the Lee Street Viaduct in 1921 led to a change in character of Brooklyn's built environment. Designed to help relieve congestion on the Riverside Viaduct, the viaduct stimulated commercial and industrial development along Park Street. Completed in 1928 at the intersection of Park and Dora Streets, the Riverside Atlantic Bank was one of the early commercial projects built along Park Street.
It was one of the early branch locations of the Atlantic National Bank. Founded in 1903 by Edward W. Lane, railroad magnate Thomas P. Denham, and Fred W. Hoyt, Atlantic National Bank was one of the most significant locally based banking institutions of its era. Identical bank buildings were built in Springfield and Fairfield during the same period of time.
With the Great Depression coming right after its completion, the Riverside Atlantic Bank at Park and Dora Streets closed a few years later in 1932. During the following decades, the building was occupied by several businesses including the Mills Printing Company during World War II, Keplinger Inc. Interior Decorators in the early 1950s, and the Jax Apron & Uniform Manufacturing Company during the 1960s.
By this time, Brooklyn had began to decline. This decline was exacerbated with the construction of I-95 and the decline of the nearby Jacksonville Terminal and riverfront wharfs as economic anchors. In 2013, with its buildings coming down one by one, its built history slowly disappearing from existence, the Jacksonville Historic Commission unsuccessfully attempted to make Brooklyn the city's next historic district. Predictably, two years later, what's left of Brooklyn continues to go down like dominos, in anticipation of future new development opportunities.
Here's a look at the ruins of the former Riverside Atlantic Bank Building.