The Myrtle Avenue Subway

March 24, 2009 23 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Many years have passed since the last streetcar ran down Jacksonville's streets. Although most of the infrastructure associated with Jacksonville's streetcar system no longer exists, if one looks hard enough, a little history can be found.

The Myrtle Avenue Subway, opening up another convenient passage to the Riverside and Highway districts, has recently been accepted from the contractors by the city.  This will give the company a new line to this territory, which we hope will be in operation within the present year.

Stone & Webster Public Service Journal, Vol. 4 page 419 January-June 1909

This streetcar line down Bay Street once used the Myrtle Avenue Subway to provide access to booming Westside streetcar suburbs like North Riverside, Murray Hill and Lackawanna. 


Sec. 1722. Consideration.-It is a condition and consideration for the granting by the City of the privileges hereby granted that the Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company, will, at its own expense, widen Forsyth Street between Cleveland and Jefferson Streets, making the south side of Forsyth Street a straight line from a point sixty (60) feet south of the north-west corner of Forsyth and Jefferson Streets, to a point sixty (60) feet south of the north-east corner of Cleveland and Forsyth streets, and will open and extend Forsyth Street, from Cleveland Street to Myrtle Avenue to a uniform width of sixty (60) feet, and will dedicate the land necessary for the widening and extension of Forsyth Street.

And as a further consideration said Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company will, whenever required by City Ordinance, construct and maintain a subway under or a viaduct over its tracks on Bay Street to connect with any subway or viaduct crossing under or over the Jacksonville Terminal Company's tracks on Myrtle Avenue, such viaduct or subway to be constructed and maintained in compliance with the provisions of City Ordinance, and whenever the city shall have Forsyth Street paved between Jefferson Street and Myrtle Avenue, said company shall pay the proportion of the cost thereof charageable to its property, and also the part of such cost payable as the City's one-third of such cost; and as a further consideration said Atlantic and East Coast Terminal Company shall provide a foot bridge, or viaduct, along Davis Street above and over the tracks crossing said street as agreed upon by the Board of Public Works. (Id.2.)


The Myrtle Avenue Subway can be located in the center of this image, where the tracks in the railyard converge. 


This image was taken on top of the Myrtle Avenue Subway. 


The Myrtle Avenue Subway can be seen in the lower left section of this image. 

The Myrtle Avenue Overpass carries I-95 over Myrtle Avenue and a railroad line in downtown Jacksonville. The main, steel arch span of the overpass is 386 feet long. There are 16 steel girder approach spans that bring the total length to over 1,400 feet in length. This bridge represents Florida's only steel arch, the state's only through arch carrying interstate traffic, and the only arch design serving as a grade separation. It was identified in an update to Florida's historic highway bridge inventory, and, as a result, the FDOT and the Florida SHPO concurred that this bridge represents a significant historic resource for the state.


Myrtle Avenue heading north toward the subway and overpass.


The Myrtle Avenue Subway Today

The track and streetcars are long gone, but some of the supporting infrastructure remains.


The incorporation of the Myrtle Avenue Subway and tunnel lighting effects could make the proposed streetcar system an attraction itself.

The opening of streetcar service with this structure served as a critical connection between Downtown Jacksonville and the booming streetcar suburbs of Lackawanna, Murray Hill and North Riverside.  The incorporation of this significant historical urban element into JTA's current streetcar plans could directly link a new line with the original one.

Article by Ennis Davis