Elements of Urbanism: Waycross

October 12, 2010 20 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville visits a neighbor to the north: Waycross, GA.

Waycross Population 2009: 14,792 (City); 54,494 (Waycross Micropolitan Metro) - (incorporated in 1866)

Jacksonville Pop. 2009: 813,518 (City); 1,328,144 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Waycross (--,---)

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2009)

Waycross: +6.60% (Micropolitan Area)
Jacksonville: +18.29%


Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Waycross: N/A
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)


Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Waycross: N/A
Jacksonville: 2,149.2


City Population Growth from 2000 to 2009

Waycross: -608
Jacksonville: +72,312


Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Waycross: N/A
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet

Adjacent to Convention Center:

Waycross: N/A
Jacksonville: N/A


Tallest Building:

Waycross: Ware Hotel - 7 stories
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Fortune 500 companies 2009 (City limits only):

Waycross: Zero (0)
Jacksonville: CSX (240), Winn-Dixie (340)


Urban infill obstacles:

Waycross: Ruralism
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


Downtown Nightlife:

Waycross: N/A
Jacksonville: East Bay Street & vicinity


Common Downtown Albatross:

Stagnant growth.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Waycross: 69 out of 100, according to walkscore.com
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

City Land Area

Waycross: 11.7 square miles
Jacksonville: 767 square miles

Green = Jacksonville's city limits (current urban core) before consolidation in 1968
Red = Jacksonville's current consolidated city-county limits

Jacksonville's current and original city limit boundaries over Waycross' (red) city limits.

About Waycross

The area now known as Waycross was first settled around 1820, locally known as "Old Nine" or "Number Nine" and then Pendleton. It was renamed Tebeauvilee in 1857, incorporated in 1866 and designated county seat of Ware County in 1873. Then it was incorporated as "Way Cross" on March 3, 1935.

During the 1950s the city had a tourist gimmick. The local police would stop motorists with out-of-state license plates and escort them to downtown Waycross. There they would be met by the Welcome World Committee and given overnight lodging, dinner and a trip to the Okefenokee Swamp. The tradition faded away after the interstates opened through Georgia. Waycross also has a the distinction of being the largest city in the largest county in the largest state East of the Mississippi River.


The landmark Phoenix Hotel, a three story wood frame and stucco structure constructed near the turn of the century, a regular stop of many rail travelers for decades, was closed as a hotel in the 1970's, but a major renovation / restoration project is now complete and retail space is available on the ground level.

Retail buildings along Mary Street.  The main entrance of the old S. H. Kress dime store is the building in the foreground; it is now Heritage Residential Realty Co. of Waycross.

The Waycross Rail depot constructed under direction of Henry Plant in the heyday of train travel through Waycross by means of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Renovated in the 1990's, it is the home of the Waycross-Ware Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Waycross Development Authority

The Railway Express Agency (REA) building on Plant Avenue, adjacent to the Rail Depot, has been fully renovated as a banquet hall

The former Ritz Theater can be in the center of this block of buildings along Pendleton Street. The Waycross Area Community Theater (WACT) is now performing here after completion of extensive renovations.

The old Lyric Theater structure, presently vacant, at the corner of Elizabeth and Tebeau Street.

The vacant Hotel Ware building is the tallest structure in downtown Waycross.

The Ware Hotel rehab fits in with other efforts to attract retail business downtown, Oliver said. One great strength of Waycross as a community is its large stock of historic buildings. Rehabilitations of the old Rail Depot, Railway Express and Phoenix Hotel prove old buildings can be restored to effective use.

"The Ware Hotel project could be a catalyst for the whole area. It's a landmark on that side of town," Gross said of the city's tallest building, at seven stories.

Before it closed, the hotel had catered to the elderly and to CSX Transportation engineers, conductors and others who needed a place to stay until their next assigned train left Waycross, where the railroad has a huge rail hub. Its restaurant was highly regarded for its country cooking buffet and was a favorite Sunday dinner stop for many.


The B.P.O.E. (Elk's) Club Lodge occupied this painted brick structure at the corner of Mary and Tebeau Street for many years. The Carter House, Whitfield's and the Crab Trap have come and gone and the building is currently vacant.

Famous natives and residents

Gram Parsons - Country Singer/Musician of The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and solo artist

Ossie Davis - Actor, Writer, Director, Producer

Pernell Roberts - actor

Stanley Booth - author, journalist, music critic

Sonora Webster Carver - First woman horse diver, There is a fictionalized movie version of her life starring Gabrielle
Anwar, titled Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken.

Burt Reynolds - actor, director, writer, producer, casting director, singer

Nikki DeLoach - Former member of the new MMC and the girl group innosense and actress on the television series
North Shore and Windfall

Tim McCray - Professional football player from 1985-1990 in the CFL

Caroline Miller - Pulitzer Prize winning author

Jay Gogue - Auburn University President

Billy Carter- brother of President Jimmy Carter founder of Billy Beer

Johnny Archer - American professional pool player - "The Scorpion"

Bill Darden - Founder of The Green Frog, Red Lobster and Darden Restaurants which owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Smokey Bones, LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille.

Leodis McKelvin - member of the NFL's Buffalo Bills


The Waycross Journal Herald newspaper complex, built in the 1950's.

The Waycross City Hall

Source for building descriptions: http://www.wayx.net/historicimages.html

Photo tour by Ennis Davis