Remembering The East Bay Street District

June 13, 2011 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In the first half of the 20th century, the area that is known as East Bay Street today, was almost wholly industrial- and maritime- related. With the railroad and wharves paralleling a block south, along the riverfront, many firms took advantage of Bay Street's easy access to the St. Johns River. The most important industry during this era was shipbuilding and repair. With the rise of free trade, deindustrialization, and a movement to clean up the downtown waterfront, many industries began to leave the area in the mid-20th century. Although a number of historic warehouses, factories and wharves were left and available for other uses, the majority have been demolished in the later half of the 20th century. With the push to cluster entertainment uses in this section of downtown and the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission's (JEDC) desire to brand the corridor "The E-Town zone," Metro Jacksonville takes a look into the district's past.

A portrait of employees at Jacob Brock's shipyard taken between 1860 and 1877. Brock's shipyard was the first in Jacksonville and was purchased by Alonzo Stevens after Brock's death in 1877.  This firm would evenutally become the Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock & Repair Company and the Jacksonville Shipyards, employing as many as 2,500 workers before finally shutting down for good in 1992.

The corner of Bay and Main Streets three days after the Great Fire of 1901.  This was the second major fire to destroy the East Bay Street district.  In 1854, a fire caused by sparks from the steamship 'Florida' destroyed Jacksonville's original six-block downtown district along Bay, between Market and Pine (now Main Street).

The ferry slip can be seen from the intersection of Main and Bay Streets.

The wharf at the foot of Ocean Street between 1900 and 1915.

Napoleon B. Broward's famed "Three Friends" steamship.

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