While the previous article uses city directories to illustrate the rise and fall of downtown, another effective way to get the point across is the use of historic photographs that correlate with the timeline. The pictures below are intended to give readers a visual image of the rise and fall of downtown Jacksonville from the early 1900's up to the 1970's. (Originally published October 9th, 2006)
1950's - city population: 205,000
The late 1940s / early 1950s represented downtown's heyday as a shopping and cultural mecca. During this time, sidewalks were loaded with pedestrians and streets were filled with automobiles.
Looking North at the corner of Main and Adams Street in the 1950's. Sterchi's Department Store is now the site of the surface parking lot, next to Burrito Gallery.
During this era downtown was littered with department stores such as Sears, Levy's, May-Cohens and JCPenney. Furchgott's (shown below) was an Adams Street landmark for years Today, the structure serves as a warehouse for an internet book company and a ghost of what was.
Window watching was a very popular activity, once the television set hit the market.
While retail boomed, the 1950's also ushered in change for the downtown riverfront. This picture, taken in 1953, shows the waterfront littered with wharfs, similar to a scene out of San Fransico or Seattle.
During the Haydon Burns Administration, the wharfs were seen as blight and in Jacksonville there was only one way to get rid of decay. By 1959, most of the wharfs were razed for state of the art surface parking lots.