Urban Neighborhoods: Longbranch

April 6, 2010 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville explores one of the urban neighborhoods that make up the area known as Metro North: Longbranch.

About Longbranch

Along with Brentwood, Panama Park, Tallulah and North Shore, Longbranch is a part of an area known as Metro North. The neighborhood of Longbranch was platted in the late 1800s by James Jaquelin Daniel.  Col. J.J. Daniel was an early philanthropist, city leader and president of the Jacksonville Cemetery Association. Under Daniel's leadership, the cemetery association would establish the nearby Evergreen Cemetery in 1880.

During Longbranch's early years, development was dominated by a mix sparsely located single-family residences and isolated industrial uses. After the Great Fire of 1901, the area saw an influx in residential growth, as Jacksonville's population increased dramatically in the early 20th century. Like several early suburbs, Longbranch also benefited from the presence of the Jacksonville Traction Company.

(Jacksonville Traction Car #168) The car is of the Phoenix Park Line. It was named "Phoenix" after the city rose from the ashes of the 1901 fire. This car ran a route via Main Street, from Bay and Main to Walnut, to Phoenix, to Evergreen to Trout River.
Source: State Library and Archives of Florida

The Phoenix Park Line connected Longbranch with Panama Park, Evergreen Cemetery and Downtown. In the following decades the community would develop as a working class neighborhood serving the large industrial, railroad and maritime industries in the immediate area.  During the second half of the 20th century, the neighborhood was negatively impacted by a weakening industrial presence and the construction of the 20th Street Expressway.

Today, Longbranch's future stands at a crossroads.  While the neighborhood is centrally located, a major highway interchange is planned in the heart of the community to better facilitate truck traffic between the JAXPORT Tallyrand Terminal and the expressway system.  Considering 21st Street serves as Longbranch's commercial corridor, the integration of the interchange project into the heart of the community could end up being a positive or a major negative.

Tallyrand Avenue

Once known as the East Shell Road, Talleyrand Avenue, along with Pine Street (Main Street), was a part of a continuous loop known as "Ten-Mile Drive", popular for bicycle and carriage excursions.  Tallyrand Avenue serves as a north-south corridor, linking Longbranch with Panama Park and Downtown.

The East Shell Road (Talleyrand Avenue), which was opened in 1873, was a toll road connecting the East Jacksonville area with the community of Panama located to the north at the mouth of the Trout River.  In later years, the road was renamed to commemorate noted seasonal resident in the area, Charles Maurice Camille, Marquis de Talleyrand.  The Marquis was a descendant of the famous French diplomat and public official, Charles Maurice Talleyand-Perigord (1754-1838) who had a long and illustrious career that included service during the French Revolution, Napoleon’s reign, the Bourbon restoration, as well as the reign of Louis Philippe.  In 1869, Elizabeth marquise de Talleyrand-Perigord, American wife of the marquis, had purchased a 30-acre parcel known as “Millwood”, on the south side of Long Branch Creek where it empties into the St. Johns River.  Originally constructed in the 1850’s, “Millwood” was the country estate for the family of lumber mill owner, James Daniel, that included his son James Jaquelin Daniel (1832-1888), a well-known and respected city leader who died during the tragic 1888 Yellow Fever epidemic.  Although eventually selling “Millwood” in the late 1860’s, James Jaquelin Daniel later purchased an estate known as “Palermo” on the north side of Long Branch Creek that had formerly been the family home of his wife, Emily L’Engle.  Talleyrand only occupied “Millwood” for a few seasons and had sold the property by 1873.

Fire Station No. 11 on Tallyrand Avenue.

The Talleyrand Terminal Railroad (reporting mark TTR) is a short line terminal railroad run by Rail Link, Inc., a subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming Inc. It serves the Jacksonville Port Authority and tenants with over ten miles of track. It has only one main line, running west from the port to an interchange with CSX and Norfolk Southern northeast of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Operations began on July 28, 1996.

Highlighted in green, this section of a recently closed box plant was originally constructed in 1916 as cotton warehouses. During this time, the property also featured a cotton gin.


Keystone Coal Terminal

Wigmore Park is located in the Talleyrand section of northeast Jacksonville, near where Talleyrand Ave. becomes Wigmore St. Talleyrand Ave. was originally the East Jacksonville Shell Rd., which was completed in 1873 and became the County's second major paved road. The neighborhoods surrounding the park were platted in 1909 and 1913. Developed sometime before 1942, Victory Park existed for many years just east of Wigmore Park. Prior to the opening of Wigmore Park with its own recreation director in June 1957, Victory Park was closed. A community center building, which has now been demolished, existed on the site until at least 1996. An improvement project in 2003 included renovation of the baseball field, landscaping and irrigation, and the construction of sidewalks and handicap parking space.

PCS Phosphates Terminal

Phosphate terminal in 1966.

After 33 years of operation, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) Phosphates shut down the Longbranch phosphate terminal in 1999.


Phosphate Terminal Opens New Northern Florida Industrial Opportunities

Speaking of industrial development and expansion along the lines of the Southern System during 1966 as we do in this issue, the year saw another chapter written in the story of industrial development of Northeastern Florida.

Climax of the chapter was the opening in the Spring of 1966 of the $3 million automated phosphate rock, triple super phosphate and diammomium phosphate shipping terminal at Jacksonville, Fla., by the Occidental Agricultural Chemicals Corporation (Oxy).

Situated on a 23-acre parcel of land leased from the Southern Railway, the terminal is on the St. Johns River, some eighteen miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Part of a $55-million complex that includes a phosphate mine and processing plant located at White Springs, 68 miles northwest of Jacksonville, the shipping terminal is billed as "Florida's fastest-loaded phosphate rock terminal," with a loading capacity in excess of 3,000 tons per hour.

Located at the terminal are six concrete storage bins, each 40 feet in diameter and 110 feet high, each holding approximately 5,000 tons of phosphate in storage for export; a car unloading facility, which handles two 100-ton hopper cars at a time unloading on a 48-inch conveyor belt, carrying material directly to a loading ship or to the storage bins at the rate of 2,000 tons per hour; and a mooring facility. The channel alongside the mooring facility was dredged to a depth of 37 feet.

A 54-inch conveyor belt takes phosphate from the storage bins, through a transfer tower, to the ship loaders. The system is so designed that the ship can be loaded partially from th6 car house and silo at the same time, or from two silos, in order to supply the required blend.

The ship loaders, two in number, service the vessels via a retractable conveyor reaching 54 feet across the beam of the ship. The mooring facility will accommodate vessels up to 675 feet in length.

The terminal is designed to handle outbound phosphate shipments only, with no provisions for unloading of bulk material from ships. The reason for this, according to an Occidental spokesman, is that when the terminal reaches its planned output of more than 1,000,000 tons per year, it would make handling inbound cargoes difficult. First shipment from the terminal was made in early summer of 1966.

The Jacksonville terminal, along with the development of the mine and plant complex at White Springs, has brought a new industry to northeastern Florida, particularly in the White Springs area where little or no industry existed before. For years, phosphate has been mined in the central region of Florida, but Occidental's is the first, and only, large-scale commercial development in the northeast area. Phosphate is in world-wide demand for fertilizer and agricultural chemicals.

The coming of Occidental to northern Florida is a real stimulus to the area's development, according to business and civic spokesmen. The manager of the Jacksonville Port Authority said the terminal "opens a whole new era of industry," while the president of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce estimated the terminal would bring $20 million into the community each year.

Southern serves this developing northern Florida phosphate industry by providing efficient, low-cost service between the mine and plant at White Springs and the shipping terminal in Jacksonville. Using 100-ton covered hopper cars to carry the phosphate, Southern carries anywhere from a few cars each day to entire unit trains from mine to shipping terminal. Southern also carries other shipments of phosphate and phosphate products from the mine and plant for delivery throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Jacksonville shipping terminal is indicative of how Southern's efforts work to aid industry in an area it serves by providing development sites on which industry can construct new plants or needed facilities, and by providing industry with fast, efficient railroad service that benefits Southern and the industries Southern serves.

PCS Phosphate terminal in 1977


In phosphate, the Saltville, Virginia feed plant and the Jacksonville, Florida terminal will be closed permanently. The Suwannee River Hemihydrate plant at White Springs, Florida will be closed indefinitely. Production at Saltville, which has a capacity of 78,000 tonnes and employs 49 people, will cease on August 31, 1999. Jacksonville employs nine people and the Hemi plant at White Springs approximately 40; both these closures are effective immediately.

Current: Abandoned PCS Phosphate terminal today.

H C Ploof founded Ploof Transfer Company of Jacksonville, FL in 1912. Mr. Ploof used mules and wagons to transport construction materials locally. As the years went by Ploof grew and expanded, and eventually abandoned the wagons in favor of powerful tractors and trailers. In 1941 H.C. Ploof retired. W.B. Copeland acquired ownership and changed the name to Ploof Truck Lines, Inc.

In the mid-1990’s Ploof began to experience difficulties, and in September 1999 filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Statutes. Mr. David V. Penland, President of Cypress Truck Lines, Inc., purchased the assets of Ploof Truck Lines out of bankruptcy; on November 10, 1999 and changed the name to Ploof Carriers Corporation.

Cypress Truck Lines has an excellent reputation for stability, quality, and dependable service, as well as a “Satisfactory” rating with the Department of Transportation, which is the highest rating available.

Merging the operations of these two companies has resulted in the largest gypsum carrier in the United States.

In March of 1999 Jax Logistics was bought, part of this business is transloading of rail cars, To facilitate the rail cars we have a 15 car rail siding serviced by the Norfolk Southern railroad, an a 10 acre paved area for storage. At our East Adams St and Warrington St. locations in Jacksonville, we are serviced by the CSX Railroad. Our primary business at this time is iron and steel products.

21st Street

21st Street is the major commercial thoroughfare through Longbranch, connecting the neighborhood with Brentwood, Main Street and Tallyrand Avenue.  A significant portion of this district has been demolished in preparation for a major interchange with the MLK Parkway.  Without the application of context sensitive street design principles, a park and a nearby residential area could be further isolated from the rest of the neighborhood.

Kooker Park

The construction of the MLK Parkway has resulted in reducing neighborhood access to this public amenity.

Henry L. Brown-Kooker Park is located in the Talleyrand section of north Jacksonville. It comprises part of the old Longbranch subdivision, which was platted prior to 1901. The City acquired the site in 1922 from Samuel and Ida Kooker, and soon thereafter the property was developed and named Kooker Park. The Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida initiated a program at the park in 1972 and currently maintains a building on the grounds, which boasts several picturesque oaks. Henry L. Brown built a 30-year career with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida. He became the area director of Kooker Park Boys and Girls Club, which serves low-income youth, and coached many city, state, and national youth teams before his death. In 2003, the park was renamed in his honor.

Recently completed Sanctuary Park anchors the west end of the 21st Street corridor in Longbranch.  The site design of this complex brings a little slice of "Southside Sprawl" to Jacksonville's urban core and suggests that it may be time to revisit our zoning setback and integration regulations.

Evergreen Avenue Corridor

Originally known as Cummer Avenue and a part of the Phoenix Park streetcar line, Evergreen Avenue connects Longbranch to the Evergreen Cemetery.

Established in 1975, Flotech is positioned to provide complete mechanical services to the large industrial market of Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina.  We can satisfy any requirement of your piping and valve systems for marine, power, pulp & paper, chemical and food processing, and waste/resource recovery facilities.

Our operations include:

•Valve Services - repair, maintenance, actuation and certification shops, including mobile field service units
•New Valve Sales - TYCO valves and actuators for all industrial market requirements: Anderson Greenwood, Crosby, Kunkle, Keystone, Vanessa, Yarway, KTM, Varec, Rovalve, Clarkson, Biffi, Morin and ASCO.
•Tube Services - repair, retube and manufacturing of heat exchangers, and pipe bending and fabrication/welding services
•Space Castings - full foundry capabilities in iron, stainless, steel and bronze with in-house pattern shop

For over 50 years, Vulcan Steel has fabricated and erected structural and miscellaneous steel for projects across the Southeast.  As a family-owned business, our reputation includes a commitment to customer relationships and service.  Our 45,000+ square-foot state-of-the-art facility enables us to deliver with excellence and precision.

Vulcan Steel has produced miscellaneous and structural steel projects ranging from several hundred to over three million dollars.  Our portfolio of work includes high profile local projects such as the Jacksonville Port, the Jacksonville Ballpark, and the Jacksonville Arena.  We have fabricated and installed the structural steel for numerous elementary schools and public libraries as well as many other private and civil projects.  From restaurants to banks and gas stations to churches, our experience and commitment to excellence has merited a high level of repeat customers.

Cemetery Park is located in the north Jacksonville between the Springfield and Panama Park areas. It lies just south of Evergreen Cemetery on Winona Drive, and extends from Main Street east to Liberty Street. Evergreen Cemetery was established in 1880, and in the following years many old Jacksonville families moved their deceased relatives from the Old City Cemetery to Evergreen. The Cemetery deeded the land for the park to the City in 1921. Cemetery Park and nearby May Mann Jennings Park were originally known together as Long Branch Park. The park presents a scenic setting of lawn and trees for motorists that have turned on Winona Drive from bustling Main Street, and acts as a visual and noise buffer between businesses south of the park and Evergreen Cemetery to the north.

May Mann Jennings Park is located in north Jacksonville, southeast of Evergreen Cemetery, which was established in 1880. The City acquired most of the property in 1921-22, and it originally comprised part of Long Branch Park. Following extensive work by the Works Progress Administration, a lovely new park opened in 1940, named for May Mann Jennings (1873-1963), the wife of former Florida governor William S. Jennings. After moving to Jacksonville in 1905, she devoted the remainder of her life to local and state activism, becoming one of Florida's most influential women. She worked tirelessly for the conservation of public lands in the state, headed the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs, was co-founder of the Florida League of Women Voters, and much more. In recent years, the park grounds have been returned to a natural, undeveloped state.

Evergreen Cemetery


Residential Longbranch

Surrounded by railroads, an expressway and industrial uses, the majority of Longbranch's residential community is located just north of 21st Street.

Russell "Bill" Cook Jr. Park, f/n/a Jones Street Park, is located at the end of 23rd Street. Jacksonville citizens, S. Fischer & C. Fischer donated a portion of the property to the City (Letter dated 12/9/74 from C.C. Holbrook, P.E., Director of Public Works, to H.L. Shorstein, General Counsel). After receiving the property, the Department of Parks requested that the portion of Jones Street that separated the original park from the newly acquired property be closed. That request was granted by Ordinance 82-501-234 (Ordinance 82-501-234). A lighted youth baseball field was built in 1981. At the request of Councilman Fields, bar-b-que pits, picnic tables, and fencing were added in 1991 (Letter dated 8/6/91 from C.M. Fields to L. Alexander, Deputy Director, Recreation & Parks Department). The latest addition to the park was completed in 2002. The improvements included a playscape, a water feature with lighting, and sidewalks.

Located at 3723 Franklin Street, Longbranch Elementary School (Public School 106) has been an anchor of this community since 1917.

Although the construction of the MLK Parkway has reduced the community's size, a few residential street still exist between 21st Street and the Talleyrand Terminal Railroad.

Site of proposed MLK Parkway/21st Street Interchange, adjacent to Kooker Park.  The remaining residences were demolished a few years ago.

Longbranch is located just north of the MLK Parkway along 21st Street.  The original streetcar corridor is highlighted in orange.  The green line represents the proposed commuter rail corridor that will connect Downtown with the Airport and possibly Nassau County.  If this line becomes reality, Longbranch and many other communities in Jacksonville's Northside, sit in position to benefit from economic growth and revitalization associated with fixed mass transit infrastructure projects.

Article by Ennis Davis