Today, the majority of Jacksonville's water based industry is located north of the Hart Bridge. During the mid 20th century, the downtown riverfront resembled cities like San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and New York City. A bustling district filled with wharfs, seafood markets, shipyards, and wholesale water-based industry.
During this time, Berkman Plaza and the troubled redevelopment site known as the Jacksonville Shipyards was the home of one of Jacksonville's largest employers, the Merrill-Stevens Drydock & Repair Co.
Founded in 1866 by James Gilman Merill, Merrill-Stevens evolved from a blacksmith shop to the largest Atlantic shipyard south of Norfolk, Va. during World War II. During the war, the shipyard was known for its production of motor gunboats While the company no longer has any operations in Jacksonville, it lives on as Florida's oldest continuously operating yacht services company with production facilities on the Miami River, in South Florida.