Downtown's Best Kept Secret: McCoys Creek

September 24, 2010 102 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a trip under the Times-Union Building to see what exists on the other side.

About McCoys Creek

McCoys Creek connects the neighborhoods of Lackawanna, North Riverside and Brooklyn with downtown and the St. Johns River.  In the late 1700's, it was known as Richard's Creek.  Known as 3 Mile Run during the Civil War, Confederates battled Union troops in a March 1864 skirmish until the Union reached their entrenchments along the waterway.  Once a winding waterway where neighborhood kids fished and swam, the creek was polluted by an incinerator, a meat packer, a poultry processor and other industrial companies whose waste flowed into the tributary. Today, the lead and fertilizer-laden creek is commonly considered one of Jacksonville's dirtiest waterways.

McCoys Creek through Brooklyn in 1946

Touring McCoys Creek

Starting at the St. Johns River, a ride down McCoys Creek is like going into a vortex and coming out in another world.

Traveling Underground

The McCoys Creek tunnel stretches for three blocks and is wide enough for San Antonio style gondolas, kayaks and small boats.

JTA's patchwork job of securing a failing bulkhead, where the skyway crossing the creek just west of the tunnel, is the greatest challenge in navigating the winding McCoys Creek.

Assuming the JTA bulkhead can be properly repaired at some point in the future, after leaving the tunnel, one is placed in an environment where development has not taken place in over a century.  The transformation of going from an urban waterfront into what resembles a bird rookery is astonishing.

Adjacent to the Park Street viaduct, one can catch a glimpse of the Jacksonville Terminal.  In the future, it could be possible to access a revitalized transportation center through Amtrak, commuter rail, streetcar, skyway, bus or boat.

An 1903 image of McCoys Creek flooding nearby railyards.

This image taken in during the 1920s shows a McCoys Creek bordered by little vegetation in Brooklyn.

A look down McCoys Creek as it winds through Brooklyn.

Looking west towards I-95 from the Myrtle Avenue bridge.

McCoys Creek, west of I-95

A wide McCoys Creek can be seen separating the Dennis Street warehouse district from North Riverside in 1950.

Cleaning and taking advantage of the McCoys Creek greenway could possibly anchor the redevelopment of several inner westside neighborhoods including North Riverside, Lackawanna and the Dennis Street Warehouse District.

The Stockton Street Bridge

A recently installed multiuse path between McCoys Creek and McCoys Creek Boulevard.  One day, this path could be extended to connect several westside neighborhoods with downtown.

Jacksonville's long-dormant "Lovers' Lane" was at King Street and McCoys Creek Boulevard behind the old Technical High School.  The trees that gave it its privacy are no longer there today. Technical High School was Jacksonville's first vocational high school.

McCoys Creek connects the neighborhoods of Lackawanna, North Riverside and Brooklyn with downtown and the St. Johns River.

Article by Ennis Davis