Author Topic: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail  (Read 5579 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« on: November 05, 2008, 05:00:00 AM »
An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail



For nearly a century, Downtown served as Jacksonville's premier retail destination.  Is it too late to reach back into the past and capture the magic?

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/899

copperfiend

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2008, 07:50:11 AM »
Great photos.

civil42806

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2008, 08:08:28 AM »
Wow some great photos, the picture of Kress is fabulous, was that a local store or a chain?

avonjax

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2008, 08:15:13 AM »
With some exceptions that's what downtown looked like in the 60's and 70's. Furchgott's was an awesome store...
I worked there in high school. And I remember when the Rosenblums facade was destroyed...It was very sad...It was a very pretty building. As a matter of fact that was a very active retail intersection. Rosenblums, Florsheim Shoes, Furchgotts, and Levy-Wolf. It was a whole different city then, and on Friday nights it was usually super busy. I'm sure Ocklawaha remembers....
I am really sorry that the city chose to close off the street level use of the Haverty building. It will probably create another dead spot after dark in downtown. I love how the restoration looks, but now most people will never benefit from it's use. Street level anything would have been great.

thelakelander

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2008, 08:55:19 AM »
S.H. Kress & Co. was a national "five and dime" chain that operated from 1896 to 1981.  The chain was well known for the unique architecture of their stores.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

second_pancake

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2008, 09:25:05 AM »
All I can feel when looking at those pictures is depressed. I've been thinking alot about Jax lately, being that I'm not living there right now, and I truely think the only way Jax will ever redeem itself and become the city that many would like to see, is to break into smaller cities again.  Jacksonville is too large for it's own good.  There is only so much money to go around for improvements and various retail incentive projects and each area wants its cut.  It would be much more managable if Orange Park were its own city, the beaches were their own city, Avondale, San Marco, Springfield were their own cities, etc.  Can you imagine what downtown would look like then? 
"What objectivity and the study of philosophy requires is not an 'open mind,' but an active mind - a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them criticially."

vicupstate

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2008, 09:55:49 AM »
Second pancake, no offense, but under your scenario, the city of Jacksonville (what would be left of it) would not be big enough or have the tax base to accomplish much of anything. 

Charlotte is a big, sprawled out city with a large population, but downtown comes FIRST, even with the suburbanites.  Everyone sees it as not just the core of the city, but the HEART of the city.  It's all about attitude and LEADERSHIP.  That is what is missing. 
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lindab

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2008, 10:51:28 AM »
Shopping downtown came slowly to an end as retail moved to the malls. The decline was blamed on parking problems in town. It sure is sad to see how many beautiful buildings were torn down to become parking garages. 

Of the buildings left, so many today have no retail on street level and window spaces, instead of being showcases for merchandise, have become blank coverings. Furchgotts, Cohens, and many other stores had such beautiful windows displays and lobbies that you knew you were somewhere special when you went in the store. Mall stores never equaled that feeling.

Ocklawaha

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2008, 04:17:38 PM »
You Betcha OCK remembers. Downtown was THE PLACE to be, the scent of fresh roasted nuts in the Sears Super-Store, The bugle call at Cohen Brothers, Hemming Plaza surrounded by buses...HA! Does anyone remember the scent of the inside of the big Western Auto stores? THEY had the radio flyer wagons and bikes! yes. SIGH!

Quote
It would be much more managable if Orange Park were its own city, the beaches were their own city
Sorry to sound blunt, but all of the above ARE THEIR OWN CITIES, they have nothing to do with Jacksonville Government. Ditto for Ponte Vedra (where the mayor REALLY lives), Middleburg, Callahan etc...
OCKLAWAHA
« Last Edit: November 05, 2008, 04:19:11 PM by Ocklawaha »

second_pancake

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2008, 04:59:33 PM »
Charlotte is not as large or diverse (speaking of the different 'burbs if you will) as Jacksonville.  As far as what is left, a lot...the best parts.  I just don't see the mentality of the typical Jax resident ever changing to the point that they view downtown as a kidney, let alone the "heart."  Rather than continue to try and change people, why don't we change the physical layout of the city, is all I'm saying.

Here in TX, you'll pass through 4 different cities over the course of driving 10 miles.  Each has their own city hall and downtown area (either historic or built to look that way), as well as a major shopping 'district' usually called a 'town center'.  The schools operate under an idependent school district system so while there are many small cities with their own budgets and elected officials, there could be 4 cities under the same ISD.  It makes for a diverse experience and allows the residents to have a true sense of community and yet not be completely disengaged from the happenings of the other cities.
"What objectivity and the study of philosophy requires is not an 'open mind,' but an active mind - a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them criticially."

second_pancake

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2008, 05:04:29 PM »
If this is true, Ock, then who is the mayor of Orange Park...or Ponte Vedra?  Who is the sheriff of Baymeadows or Avondale?  The budgets of these "cities" are based on what the Jax mayor decides them to be based on the needs presented by the district representatives.  Am I wrong?
"What objectivity and the study of philosophy requires is not an 'open mind,' but an active mind - a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them criticially."

thelakelander

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2008, 05:09:55 PM »
Steve Jones is the Mayor of Orange Park
http://www.townoforangepark.com/mayor.html

Other than Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Baldwin are the other cities inside of Duval County.

www.ci.atlantic-beach.fl.us
www.ci.neptune-beach.fl.us
www.jacksonvillebeach.org
www.baldwinflorida.com/

Ponte Vedra is an unincorporated community in St. Johns County, while Baymeadows, Avondale and everything else in Duval County (excluding the 4 cities above) are a part of Jacksonville.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2008, 05:17:06 PM »
The Metroplex is quite different than Houston.  The Dallas-Fort Worth metro is similar to Miami's or Pinellas County (St. Petersburg/Clearwater).  They have major cities surrounded by a ton of smaller incorporated suburbs.  Houston, on the other hand, is similar to Jacksonville.  Its a spreadout city with few incorporated suburbs.  Houston, Charlotte, Indianapolis, San Antonio and Nashville are the same as Jax, yet their leadership holds their downtowns in higher regards.  While Dallas-Fort Worth and their suburbs have a lot more in common with Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Hampton Roads.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ocklawaha

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2008, 05:59:29 PM »
Second Pancake, if you look at the quote that I lifed from your post, it says Orange Park and the Beaches. Indeed as Lake has said they ARE independent of Jacksonville. Baldwin is too. Ponte Vedra, Orange Cove, Switzerland, Middleburg are probably the "next cities" of the metro, they too will be independent - they just haven't organized ... yet. Callahan, Hillard, Fernandina Beach are all also Cities in their own right, expect Yulee to be the Next city in that direction. Macclenny is also a City which is independent. There are a whole string of small burgs out that way that could become incorporated towns. IMO, STARKE is the one to watch right now - the town has explosive growth (pun intended) since the upgrade of Camp Blanding for regular army training. We should also assist STARKE establish an Amtrak station as soon as the trains return to the Central Florida I-75 "S" line corridor. A few years back that area was removed from our MSA - we need to push and get it back, indeed Middleburg - Starke - Keystone Heights are all growing toward eachother.

OCKLAWAHA

Lunican

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Re: An Era Gone By: Downtown Retail
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2010, 11:27:18 AM »
Nov. 12, 1910

Quote
Jacob E. Cohen told a reporter for The Florida Times-Union his company planned a "mammoth" department store north of Hemming Park.

Cohen, of Cohen Brothers dry goods, said the building would be eclipsed in size locally only by the train station and the freight warehouse of Atlantic Coast Line and Florida East Coast railroads.

The new store would occupy the block occupied by the St. James Hotel before the Great Fire of 1901.

The property had been vacant since then, used by a variety of traveling shows, circuses, evangelists and the like.

"The lot is one of the largest in the city, occupying the entire block between Duval, Church, Laura and Hogan streets," the Times-Union said.

The newspaper reported that several other merchants were negotiating for property near the planned store.

"Removal of Cohen Brothers to this part of the city will in all probability revolutionize the retail district of the city."

First conceived as a structure that would include other retail outlets and professional offices, the huge building now was contemplated as housing the Cohen company alone, he said.

The company presently occupied a building at 29-33 W. Bay St.

The newspaper described the establishment as one of the city's largest and most popular, and "always among the prime movers in any matter pertaining to the advancement and development of the city."


Quote
New street lights on Forsyth Street between Main and Julia streets "sent for an effulgence and splendor (that was) truly the property of a metropolis." The Times-Union said the lighting was initiated by hotel managers William Marshall of the Seminole and William Foor of the Aragon, and Duval, who agreed to underwrite the cost for a month.

More than 1,200 automobiles were reported in Jacksonville, making it "decidely the best automobile town for its size in the Southeast," the morning paper said. "Automobiles from the very finest machine to the smallest and cheapest runabout can be seen every day on the streets."