Author Topic: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street  (Read 970 times)

thelakelander

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Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« on: December 13, 2020, 10:28:36 PM »
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Jacksonville's urban core is home to a number of historic walkable neighborhood commercial districts. Many are a direct result of the city's former electric streetcar network that operated between 1880 and 1936. Today, The Jaxson highlights a streetcar corridor where transit oriented development ended up being more mixed-use than usual: Springfield's Pearl Street

Read More: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/walkable-jacksonville-springfields-pearl-street/
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Ken_FSU

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Re: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2020, 09:37:15 AM »
Great stuff.

Found this guy from the archives to be a really good supplementary read as well:

https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-jul-ruins-of-jacksonville-the-streetcar-system

Crazy to see how well Jacksonville did fixed transit and TOD before completely abandoning it (a few miles of Skyway aside) for close to a century.

What caused Jacksonville to abandon what looked like a successful, growing transit system in favor of buses? Cost? Did a lot of other cities abandon streetcar in favor of buses as well during the first half of the 20th century?

jcjohnpaint

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Re: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2020, 09:49:43 AM »
Was thinking the same thing. 

thelakelander

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Re: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2020, 10:01:29 AM »
^The majority of streetcar systems were abandoned and replaced by buses during the mid-20th century. While there are a lot of reasons that led to this outcome, in general we went all in the automobile, highways, land use, public policies and public infrastructure investment built to facility a more autocentric landscape nationwide.

Early on, they were a development tool, sort of similar to what Brightline has become in South Florida. Real estate developers platted developments like Murray Hill and linked them to the city by streetcar with private dollars. Eventually, that became an obsolete model when highways were being subsidized by public government, making the use of an automobile or truck more affordable and facilitating White flight from the central cities. When you have a Roosevelt Boulevard or I-95 being funded by the public, the need for the private sector to invest as much in infrastructure to access their individual projects decreases.

Like Jax, Tampa, Miami, Coral Gables, Palatka, St. Augustine, Fernandina Beach, Pensacola, Daytona, etc. all once had streetcar lines as well. Very few cities (New Orleans and Philly are two examples) kept portions of their old streetcar lines. Some others, like Cleveland, upgraded some of their lines into LRT and other forms of fixed transit. Even today, you can pretty much tell what cities had streetcar lines and the extent of those lines based on the type of built environment of a neighborhood.

Search hard, you won't find many examples of streets in Jax similar to Pearl Street today. Walnut is one, however like Pearl, it also was a streetcar line.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2020, 10:06:05 AM by thelakelander »
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Ken_FSU

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Re: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2020, 11:09:01 AM »
^Really interesting stuff.

Thanks Lake!

Re: Real estate developers privately funding streetcars as a development tool.

Have streetcars become more expensive, for lack of a better term? Feels like any time public streetcar investment is discussed in 2020, the powers to be seem to think it's too cost prohibitive. I've seen quotes of like a quarter billion dollars+ for a starter system. How were private investors able to rapidly lay dozens, if not hundreds, of miles of streetcar across these cities, during the Great Depression in some instances?

It just blows my mind that we're so unwilling to look toward what's worked in the past and what's working in other cities and try to replicate it, rather than reinvent the wheel with something like the U2C clown cars.

Wouldn't streetcar or some kind of other at-grade fixed transit do more to spur TOD between the sports complex and Brooklyn than a squad of 1,000 clown cars?


thelakelander

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Re: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2020, 11:34:32 AM »
^Roads have been publicly subsidized. Developers no longer need to invest in public transportation as a part of their real estate ventures. They can largely skip the investment in a First Coast Expressway or SR 9B by simply buying the previously inaccessible cow pasture and tap their entrance into whatever road has an interchange with the publicly supported highway. That wasn't the case in the late 19th and early 20th century.

There are various forms of streetcar systems and the price will range depending on the bells and whistles thrown into them. Doing them on the cheap would mean taking advantage of existing abandoned rail ROW (like the S-Line Urban Greenway before it became a trail) or removing a lane from an existing street and installing track in its place. The price jumps dramatically when you start added expensive streetscaping elements, elevated infrastructure, etc. to the projects. Whenever you see a streetcar project being priced a quarter billion dollars for a starter system, you've definitely have bells and whistles included in that number that have little to do with the actual operation and running of a streetcar system.

U2C down Bay Street is full of bells and whistles as well. Otherwise, running an autonomous vehicle down an existing road should would not cost as much.
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bl8jaxnative

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Re: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2020, 12:42:24 PM »
The biggest expense today with building trams is the cost relocating utilities.    For example, something like 70% of the cost of building Milwaukee's The Hop was to move existing utilities.  This wasn't an issue in 1890.

Snaketoz

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Re: Walkable Jacksonville: Springfield's Pearl Street
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2020, 02:40:14 PM »
Ennis,  You've done it once again.  Brought up my thoughts of yesteryear.  I was raised just off Pearl St. north of Springfield.  Rode the 10 Brentwood bus to get to Kirby-Smith Jr. High, and walked that street often.  My uncle owned a jewelry shop at 8th and Main too.  There was a theatre, ice cream shop, garden supply store, restaurants, hardware, bars, grocers, druggists, anything you might want.  Much of Pearl in my younger days was brick and very slippery after a rain.  We were so excited when Pearl Plaza opened with an A&P and a five and dime.  Reading about this area made me feel like I lost an old friend.  Thanks so much (once again), for the great look back.