Author Topic: Underground Jacksonville  (Read 10896 times)

02roadking

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Underground Jacksonville
« on: July 09, 2007, 08:33:02 AM »
Interesting article from the JBJ:

Subterranean secret
Few know of Downtown's tunnels, including one that still connects high-rises
Jacksonville Business Journal - July 6, 2007
by Christian ConteStaff Writer

Workers walk through a tunnel under Downtown Jacksonville that connects 200 West Forsyth St. with 121 W. Forsyth St.
Just below the bustling streets in Jacksonville's core lies a network of underground tunnels that once connected some of the city's first high-rise buildings and kept secure an untold amount of cash without most of the public directly above ever knowing what was going on down below.

The buildings, constructed between 1909 and 1979, were bank headquarters or annexes in their heyday. Assets were stored in secured basements in massive vaults and safes. Before the days of automated deposits, employees used the tunnels to safely transport bank money from one building to another.

The tunnels that are documented stretch three blocks from Forsyth, Adams and Laura streets and once connected up to five buildings. Entrances to the tunnels are blocked off now, except for one still being used as a passageway between 121 West Forsyth St. and 200 West Forsyth St., where there is a parking garage.

At least one broker speculates that there are probably more tunnels Downtown.

"It's a very cool part of the historical lore of Downtown Jacksonville, that's for sure," Colliers Dickinson broker Jeff Evans said. "I don't think there's any question that there could be additional tunnels."

In the early 1900s Jacksonville was considered the banking and financial hub of Florida. The headquarters for Atlantic National Bank, Barnett Bank and Florida National Bank were on Forsyth, Adams and Hogan streets.

In 1909, Atlantic National moved to 121 West Forsyth St., and grew rapidly. In 1926, the building at 118 West Adams St., now known as the Schultz Building, became the first Atlantic National annex, and in 1979, the building at 200 West Forsyth St. became the second annex.

Blocked access
The tunnel between 118 West Adams and 121 West Forsyth has been blocked with a brick wall since Clifford Schultz acquired the building in 1947, said his grandson John Schultz. But the 18-inch-thick walls reinforced with steel are a constant reminder of the past.

At one point, the Schultz Building also may have been connected to 112 West Adams, the original headquarters of Barnett Bank, through the basement, although Schultz could not confirm that.

The Barnett Bank Building did have a tunnel that connected it to 100 Laura Street, which was once a Barnett annex, but now serves as the headquarters for Jacksonville Bancorp Inc. That tunnel, too, is now bricked off.

Read more below
       Sorry, link did not go to the full article
http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2007/07/09/focus1.html?page=2&b=1183953600^1486367
 
Pages: 123Continue Reading
« Last Edit: July 09, 2007, 08:51:30 AM by 02roadking »
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thelakelander

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2007, 08:51:47 AM »
from the article...

Quote
Houston has a 6.5-mile-long underground pedestrian tunnel that is an amenity for the office buildings built on top of it. Open during normal business hours Monday through Friday, the tunnel has 182,000 square feet of leased retail and commercial space used for restaurants, convenience stores, jewelry stores, hair salons and even a chiropractor's office, said Central Houston Inc. Director of Business Development Laura Van Ness. Central Houston is a nonprofit organization focused on the redevelopment and sustainability of Houston's downtown.

There are two theories about how the tunnel got there, Van Ness said. One is that it began as a walkway between an old and a new newspaper building. The other, more accepted theory is that a theater owner dug the tunnel to house a single air-conditioning system between two theaters.

However it got there, Van Ness said it is so popular now that some critics argue it gives the impression of an empty downtown because so much business is conducted underground.

I would be one of those critics.  During my last visit there (August 2006), Downtown Houston felt like a ghost town on a regular work day lunch period, at street level.  If a first impression is a lasting impression for a passerbyer driving through, I'd say Downtown Houston, for the most part, seems like a vertical office park.
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thelakelander

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2007, 09:08:37 AM »
from the article....

Quote
However, without windows they do not lend themselves well to many other office or commercial uses.

Schultz also doubted the commercial possibilities beneath 118 West Adams St.

"It's a little bit like the catacombs," he said, referring to the network of tunnels beneath Paris once used as a burial place. "It's a little dark, a little damp.

"I don't know if you could get any rent for it."

Although a water jug found in a vault beneath 121 West Forsyth led one of the building's tenants to believe the space might also have doubled as a fallout shelter during the 1940s and 1950s, Jacksonville's principal planner for historic preservation, Joel McEachin, said the tunnels likely could never serve any public uses, either.

Still, McEachin said, they are worth saving along with the historic buildings built on top of them.

Believe it or not, there are a decent amount of uses for basements in urban core areas.  Several downtowns, such as Orlando and Macon, GA have taverns, bars and nightclubs in them.  As a matter of fact, Da Real Thing Cafe, on Adams, is located in the basement of the old Furchgotts Building.  As for public uses, museums that contain artifacts and exhibits that can be damaged by sunlight, could be considered as potential users of left over basement space.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2007, 09:11:02 AM by thelakelander »
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Bruin Brain

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2007, 01:55:34 PM »
^My grandfather worked for Atlantic Nat'l Bank and my mom for Florida Nat'l, and both for First Union after the mergers. They used that tunnel frequently to visit each other's offices.

It would be interesting to see what makes Houston's tunnel such a negative thing for its downtown compared to Toronto's 17 mile PATH network, which exists along with a healthy amount of foot traffic on the streets above. Toronto is a larger and more centralized urban center than Houston, but even per capita, it still has a much more extensive network of tunnels. Maybe it still has a negative effect and would, in absence, make Toronto's streets even busier? And then there are skywalks, like in Minneapolis and Calgary. And of course there are indoor malls. Maybe when there's enough critical mass (beyond the vertical office park crowd) and these spaces don't hold a monopoly on pedestrian activity, the streets can survive these things. I think it's nice to have options, especially in inclement weather, but a balance has to be struck.

My 2¢
« Last Edit: July 09, 2007, 01:57:30 PM by Bruin Brain »

thelakelander

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2007, 02:10:06 PM »
The major differences between the two would probably be immediate population density and necessity, due to weather.  You can't really expect people to sit at outdoor cafes in Toronto in January.  The problem is then further enhanced by the large number of surface parking lots and speeding bus only lanes in Houston, which help stimulate a hostile atmosphere (towards pedestrians) at street level.
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Jason

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2007, 02:22:17 PM »
I had no idea there are/were tunnels beneath the streets (aside from the drainage pipes).  That is a fascinating piece of history.  Thanks for posting the article.

Is 200 West Forsyth the parking garage at the NW corner of Forsyth and Hogan?  If so does the tunnel go beneath the street?

thelakelander

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2007, 03:00:14 PM »
200 West Forsyth is the BB&T Building on the SW corner of Forsyth & Hogan.
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Bruin Brain

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2007, 05:28:59 PM »
it has a whole lot to do with weather.

in cold and freezing locales, self contained passages do much better than in hot humid climes

I thought the idea was that they do well anywhere (including in Houston?), but it's the foot traffic on the streets that can suffer in their wake - at least in Houston's case. That would seem kind of backwards, unless it's the presence of long, brutal winters that entice people up North onto the streets in the warm months and the lack of which keeps Houstonites underground more evenly throughout the year.  ??? Maybe I'm reading into this wrong, and you're just saying weather is why they're more common up North, not why they're more successfully harmonious with street traffic (than Houston's)?

I suspected immediate density had something to do with it, without knowing quite what Houston's downtown population is like. And of course what Houston looks like at street level makes sense as a good reason for it to be dead.

 Personally, as someone who hates summer (outside of the alpine peaks and Fairbankses of the world!), I'm just about equally intolerant of both -30 degee temps (on any scale) and the humid heat end of the spectrum. Though I realize the latter can be helped by simply seeking shade and/or dumping water on your head, it's still no fun walking through the concrete desert in a full suit on a late-July afternoon. Just add sticky rain and lightning and I'm packing for Yellowknife. :P Disclaimer: I'm not suggesting heat hinders foot traffic, but it certainly keeps me sprawled out (pun intended) in front of the nearest a/c!

thelakelander

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2007, 06:12:32 PM »
They are really enclosed malls with the office tower workforce serving as the anchors.  Houston suffers at street level because there isn't nearly the population density living nearby that downtown Toronto enjoys and the majority of Houston's office towers don't even half retail at street level.  Given the oppressive nature of Houston at street level, plus 100 degree heat and what exists underground you can't blame people for not walking on the street.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jeh1980

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2007, 01:32:14 AM »
I been in that underground tunnel on 200 W. Forsyth a few times. It's kinda nice!  8)
« Last Edit: February 04, 2008, 05:11:10 AM by jeh1980 »

raheem942

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2007, 04:06:44 AM »
lets go exploring whos down foe an excavation..........atlantis might be down there or maybe lots gold and ole maney.........tresuer hunting anyone down

Coolyfett

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2008, 11:37:10 PM »
At my old job I used to install fire alert systems and I was in one of these underground tunnels. I didnt know there were this many tunnels here. Interesting.
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kam311

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2009, 12:26:34 PM »
I was just reading some of the old posts on this forum and this one caught my attention.  I found the entrance to a tunnel at the northwest corner of Hogan and Forsyth (doorway to an elevator on Hogan side) where there parking garage was by accident one day and came up a stairway inside 121 West Forsyth.  There's quite a bit down there.  I'm sure these at one time connected to the Florida National Bank building (now Ed Ball).  If you ever manage to see the basement level of this building (by getting past security  ;) ), they have all the old bank teller stations and a giant safe down there.  There are several sealed/locked doorways near the outside of the floorplan that would have to lead across the street.  Makes me wonder what's still down there...

jeh1980

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Re: Underground Jacksonville
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2009, 03:01:53 PM »

a photo of the tunnel beneath forsyth from the jbj
It'll be great if they would put more shops and boutiques in that area!