Public Art For Brooklyn Neighborhood

February 18, 2015 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Artist David Nackashi commissioned to create public art in Brooklyn that lays foundation for developing a sense of place for emerging neighborhood by celebrating its cultural and historical context.

Regency Centers and Wingard Creative are in the process of erecting two public art murals at the Brooklyn Station development along Riverside Ave. This public art installation seeks to enhance Brooklyn Station by creating a site-specific sense of place that honors the historical character of the neighborhood.

A streetcar on Riverside Avenue in 1915.  The Riverside line took passengers from downtown to Riverside, Avondale and Ortega before terminating at NAS Jax.

Railroads had a tremendous impact on Jacksonville’s developmental patterns, and the history of the Brooklyn neighborhood has an unmistakable relationship with rail. The modern-day redevelopment of Brooklyn reconnects both a physical and metaphorical bridge between Riverside and downtown. It is within this context that the concept behind Brooklyn Station on Riverside was formed. The brand identity for Brooklyn Station is inspired by the trolleys that ran through the neighborhood, right down Riverside Avenue (formerly known as "Commercial Street").  

This image illustrates the extent of Jacksonville's city limits in the 1930's and the location of the city's streetcar lines in green.

David Nackashi, a local artist who lives in Fernandina Beach, has been commissioned to create the public art installation. The murals are based on historical photos that were purchased from the Jacksonville Historical Society and should be completed by early March.

Renderings of murals being installed at Brooklyn Station

The land, then referred to as "Dell's Bluff", that would become Brooklyn was acquired by Miles Price in October of 1858 for $1,528. In 1868, nearly 500 acres of this land were sold to Edward Cheney for $10,000 in gold and renamed Riverside. Price platted his remaining land holdings under the name Brooklyn. For comparison, in 2013 Pollack Shores Real Estate Group of Atlanta paid $7 million for the 7.96-acre site that contains the Brooklyn Station retail center and a 310-unit apartment complex presently under construction called Brooklyn Riverside.  

A newspaper publisher, Cheney was acting in trust for railroad magnate John Murray Forbes. Forbes' railroad interests included both the Michigan Central railroad as well as the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. Forbes would sell roughly half of his Dells Bluff acquisition to Drew, Hazeltine & Co whose principle Mellen W. Drew had ties to the Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Company, a short-line railroad between South Jacksonville and Pablo Beach. The Jacksonville and Atlantic Railway Company (later acquired by Henry Flagler) is largely credited with the development of what is now known as Jacksonville Beach.

John Murray Forbes, Image: Massachusetts Historical Society

In 1870 Brooklyn had a population of less than 400 residents, but the addition of a streetcar in 1879 triggered a rapid acceleration of growth within the neighborhood. Brooklyn would later be annexed into Jacksonville in 1887. At the time of annexation, the neighborhood’s population had swelled to over 1,000 people. Brooklyn's present-day population is less than its 1870 population, although this phenomenon is expected to change almost overnight once 604 high-end apartment units being constructed along Riverside Avenue come into use while the construction of another 223 units are expected to break ground this year.

A group of businessmen pose for a photograph inside a streetcar.

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