Author Topic: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South  (Read 13646 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« on: May 13, 2009, 05:00:00 AM »
Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South



Ashley Street was the core of black life in Jacksonville before Integration.  During its heyday, the four blocks from Broad to Davis Streets was known as the  Harlem of the South.   Not much is left of this once vibrant landscape today.  However, by mixing historic images with present day conditions, we can put together a decent visual description of Jacksonville's Jazz Era entertainment district.

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/1076

mtraininjax

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2009, 07:27:45 AM »
Nice information, thanks for showing us a little slice of history in Jax.
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billy

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2009, 08:25:26 AM »
I've been through the Masonic Temple.
Great building.

Doctor_K

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2009, 08:31:38 AM »
Great tour, as always. 

Yet another illuminating demonstration of what 'progress' has meant for Jacksonville from its visionary leadership over the decades.

Just imagine all the infill that could take place on all those vacant and empty lots, filling the coffers of the City through property taxes.  Not to mention gaining some semblance of a skyline.  Man.  Just think...
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."  -- Albert Einstein

Deuce

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2009, 08:59:27 AM »
Excellent article!!

Quote
1926 Negro Blue Book described it as "one of the finest buildings owned by Negroes in the world."

I learn something new about JAX every day!

What's the usage of the Masonic Temple today? That's a great looking building.

billy

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2009, 12:00:54 PM »
The ballroom/assembly hall is at the top floor, if I remember correctly.
The storefront spaces included the law office of a prominent African American attorney,
who I think , later became a judge.
 

Lunican

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2009, 12:01:51 PM »
Great article.

copperfiend

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2009, 12:33:57 PM »
 :'(

heights unknown

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2009, 04:19:42 PM »
I was born in Jacksonville, returned to Jasper Florida to be raised by my Grandma up to age 8, and would return to Jacksonville with my Mom in 1965.  My Mom lived three houses from Davis and Duval at 626 West Duval Street.  I played in that whole area during the time we lived in Jacksonville in the 60's, that is, up and down Davis Street, Duval Street, Church Street, Monroe Street, and Ashley Street.

Ashley Street was a buzz of activity back then.  I used to regularly, on Friday's and Saturday's, frequent the Roosevelt Theater, Strand Theater, and of course the Ritz Theater that you all left out.  All three of these theaters were "top of the line" back in the day, costing 50 cents to get in and a quarter for matinees. They would let you in free for a certain number of RC bottle tops, and if you had more bottle tops, you could win a free prize at the prize show. I remember such movies like the godzilla movies, attack of the 50 foot woman, guess who's coming to dinner, the blob, and don't forget the cartoons that came on before each feature movie started.  And yes there were previews but they were kept to a minimum.

Ashley Street had oodles of restaurants, bars, taverns, and each movie theater had a restaurant attached to it.  My best restaurant with the theaters was the one attached to the Roosevelt Theater (in the 600 block of Ashley) because it was two blocks directly north of our house.  You could always hear about 10 to 12 or more different juke boxes going at once on Davis and Ashley streets from the bars, taverns and at night nightclubs.  It was off the chain and that whole district, around Ashley, Davis, Duval, etc. was a buzz of activity with wall to wall people, a whole different and totally busier world than it is today.  If people weren't in the bars, restaurants and taverns, they were just walking around trying to see who they could meet or talk with or trying to find out what was going on.

I share this because I lived LaVilla when we lived in that District; I was there though I was a kid. I attended A. L. Lewis Elementary School which was next to the main post office on beaver street.  It's a shame that area was allowed to deteriorate like it now is, a shame towards blacks and whites of Jacksonville for letting their history (and yes that area was a part of Jax whites history as well) go down the tubes and the drain.  Hopefully someone will come up with a super idea for that area, relative to its importance and place in Jacksonville's history.

I remember all of those clubs, bars, restaurants, and taverns though some were already torn down when my Mom and I moved to Jax in 1965.

Cheers everyone!

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thelakelander

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2009, 04:52:09 PM »
^Thanks for the insight.  Jax definitely lost a jewel when the decision was made to wipe LaVilla off the face of the earth.
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Southbanker

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2009, 07:35:32 PM »
Articles like this are why I am addicted to this site...even though it also makes me a little sick to see how this city has destroyed so much of our history.   >:(

brainstormer

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2009, 08:49:51 PM »
Heights, thank you for sharing a bit of your childhood with us.  You are the second person I've heard tell stories about growing up in this part of town.

I've only lived in Jacksonville a few years, but does anyone have any insight into why so much of Jacksonville history has been demolished and forgotten.  I've never lived in a city where "history" is just a news story on paper and in pictures.  When did people move out of downtown and neglect these buildings?  Was it the city government?  Were they forced out?  Racially motivated?  I'm just an inquiring mind trying to understand the evolution of society.  How does a city like Jacksonville end up like this?

urbanlibertarian

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2009, 10:49:35 PM »
White flight to the suburbs started after WWII and by the '80s downtown had few residents and little retail business left.
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samiam

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2009, 11:48:52 PM »
I have stated several times that the city of Jacksonville is completely backwards when it comes to its history. I guess the powers that be do not want to remember a glorious past, instead they want to look forward to an uncertain future.

deathstar

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Re: Ashley Street: The Harlem of the South
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2009, 01:08:04 AM »
This site is like going into Frank's Barbershop in 5 Points as a kid, and listening to all the old timers sit around talk about Jacksonville back in the day. Ella Fitzgerald performed here?! My jaw dropped!

I live in the most boring era of this cities history!