Author Topic: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown  (Read 16147 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« on: August 30, 2006, 09:00:52 PM »
The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown

August 5, 2006:  A few hours earlier today I had the pleasure of sitting in the basement of the Park Place building on Hemming Park with Ennis Davis(-- the inimitable Lakelander of MetroJacksonville.com fame) comparing older photos of Downtown Jacksonville with largely depressing contemporary aerial shots. http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/194
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 11:45:12 AM by stephendare »

Jason

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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2006, 08:28:54 AM »
Please stop this torture!


Lets all make sure to elect those that are against the continued rape of what's left of downtown's history.

JohnnyRox

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Whoa...
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2006, 01:03:33 PM »
I knew Jax was a step behind, but seeing that we were elbow to elbow w/ so many other cities in the 50's and where we are now... Ouch! We took a huge step back... Sad stuff.

Jim Crooks

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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2006, 08:20:51 PM »
Having researched Jacksonville's downtown over the past 40 years in my book, Jacksonville, the Consolidation Story from Civil Rights to the Jaguars (University Press of Florida, 2004), I partially agree with Steve Dare in what has happened downtown, but also largely disagree about the causes. To my mind, the politicians are much less to blame than the average Jacksonville resident, who equipped with an automobile, deserted downtown for the suburbs to live and began shopping at the regional malls. In the 1960s, downtown was still the hub of the metro area with hotels, restaurants, theaters and department stores. All of the department stores moved to the malls and closed downtown. People who worked downtown went home and then to the malls and suburban theaters and restaurants, leaving downtown desolate. There was a racial component to the deteriorating of downtown as white shoppers preferred the mall shops to the stores where blacks also could shop. But most important was the suburban sprawl after WWII which came to a head here in the 1960s. This was a phenomonon through out urban America, and Jacksonville was part of the mix.

mtraininjax

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These same people tore down the Sears on the Bay Street, they tore down the old Post office on Forsyth Street, they also built the old Main Public Library on top of what used to be the County Courthouse. These are the same knuckleheads that would have torn down the Main Public Library, if given a chance. Instead they were able to destroy the Rhodes Building and build a new library.

Every blacktop parking lot used to be something else, something bigger and grander, but alas, these buildings lost their spirit too and if the developers take control of downtown, we won't recognize it soon enough as well.

EP

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2008, 12:23:04 PM »
I believe it happened because rational people trade off housing costs and transportation costs when selecting where to live.  In Jacksonville, during the days of cheap oil, it was inexpensive to get a piece of property in the suburbs and commute to downtown for work.  Unfortunately, the jobs followed people into the suburbs and we now have the Southside and other employment centers that are not in the downtown core.  All of this disinvestment really took a toll on the existing building stock.  New construction is cheaper and less risky than rehab, and politicians must be thinking that demolition will bring vibrancy to our downtown core faster.  I disagree, as I feel that we are in danger of losing the character that makes Jax unique.

gatorback

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2008, 02:52:19 PM »
I see they solved the parking problem. 
'As a sinner I am truly conscious of having often offended my Creator and I beg him to forgive me, but as a Queen and Sovereign, I am aware of no fault or offence for which I have to render account to anyone here below.'   Mary, queen of Scots to her jailer, Sir Amyas Paulet; October 1586

EP

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2008, 05:03:48 PM »
you are totally right EP.  What did you think of the photo comparisons in the story?

The photo comparisons made me sick.  You can see the progression of cars becoming more important that humans.  Its starts with the destruction of retail and office space to make room for parking garages and surface lots.  To get more cars into the city as fast as possible, because all of the employees live outside of it, freeways are built that completely ruin the urban fabric.  Look at all of that spaghetti coming off of the Main St. bridge.  When did it become necessary to have 8 exits off of one bridge?  It looks like a broom. 

strider

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2008, 05:13:06 PM »
My sister owns a "historic building" in Norwalk, Ohio.  When applying for help to restore the building, she was told that the cost of restoring the facade was too great and so it would not be done.  Basically, she was told the previous owners had too much money to spend and kept the building well maintained and updated.  Today, those updates are simply not the "in" fashion.  What this illustrates is simply this:  A reasonably prosperous downtown means that many of the older historic buildings either have been updated and have lost their unique character or they have been replaced.  While many have grumbled about how much has been lost in the above pictures, has anyone noticed the good?  Like the old, commercial waterfront - would you still prefer that to what we have today?   Just stop and look at our city at night sometime - best seen from the water.  It is one of the best looking night cityscapes I have seen in this country.

With progress, and that was part of what happened to downtown, simply progress, also comes both good and bad.  How many of us love the "new" city hall?  Great, historic building.  It wasn't always there, you know.  At some point, just about each and every "historic" building replaced another building of some type.  Just consider if they were not allowed to tear down some historic building when they built the empire state building or the Guggenheim museum or ...the list could get very long.  Yes, I know that Europe is filled with many, many historic buildings and that many cities seem prosperous even with saving it's hundreds of years old buildings.  But don't forget to figure in a couple of world wars.  There are plenty of empty places to build new after a war so why would they need to tear anything down?  OK, that is stretching it a bit, but you get the point.  Not every old building got saved in Europe either. And don't forget that this is the US of A.  We are "brand new" in many ways even after a few hundred years.  And we do save many, many historic buildings through out the country. It should not surprise you that a reasonably successful city would be very much comprised of every conceivable architectural style from every possible era - in fact, I for one would be very disappointed if it didn't.  Aren't any of you wondering what new building is being designed today that someone will be calling historic in fifty or a hundred years? Don’t forget that the new library will probably be on someone’s “must save” list someday.

All that said, don’t stop complaining or nothing will get saved.  And yes, it is time to return to the  “old ways” and have a pedestrian friendly downtown again.  We all know it is time because we all are lamenting the loss of the old historic buildings.  Instead, save what is really worth saving and then lets see what new and exciting “historic building of the future”  they will build next.     
"My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement." Patrica, Joe VS the Volcano.

Lunican

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2008, 06:03:12 PM »
I guess the main difference in Jacksonville is that these buildings are not being torn down to make way for structures such as the Empire State Building or the Guggenheim museum, or any structure at all. Look at that photo, all you see is parking lots.

gatorback

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2008, 06:15:15 PM »
How about a casino or two, perhaps a dog track?  the baptist would roll over. lol
'As a sinner I am truly conscious of having often offended my Creator and I beg him to forgive me, but as a Queen and Sovereign, I am aware of no fault or offence for which I have to render account to anyone here below.'   Mary, queen of Scots to her jailer, Sir Amyas Paulet; October 1586

theduvalprogressive

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 04:11:33 PM »
I think the important thing to pull from the older photos is a need to make downtown a little more open and airy. Obviously commerce helps make a downtown work, but I also believe that more open "commons" spaces creates areas that are more enjoyable for people. Why not take the parking areas and turn them into parks with trees? Why not move parking areas to the outer parts of downtown and have the JTA move more "trolley buses" through downtown?
Robert Montgomerie

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 04:23:53 PM »
I think the important thing to pull from the older photos is a need to make downtown a little more open and airy. Obviously commerce helps make a downtown work, but I also believe that more open "commons" spaces creates areas that are more enjoyable for people. Why not take the parking areas and turn them into parks with trees? Why not move parking areas to the outer parts of downtown and have the JTA move more "trolley buses" through downtown?
I know what you are saying but if we look at areas like Hemming Park it becomes quite clear that the city has a problem maintaining what we have.  I don't know if creating more space that may readily become overgrown is the answer, but I know what you are thinking.   Put's me in mind of the public squared in Savannah, which I think enhance their historic core.
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thelakelander

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2013, 05:49:02 PM »
We've already made downtown more open and airy. There's underutilized green spaces, surface parking lots and vacant overgrown lots all over the place.  Moreso than green space, downtown could use a few more actual buildings.
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ronchamblin

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Re: The Decline and Fall of the Jacksonville Downtown
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2013, 08:39:26 PM »
Nothing happens until residents move into the core.

Nothing happens until businesses move into the core. 
 
The current less than favorable conditions in the core... the stagnation in the core.... will not burst by itself to vibrancy and infill.  Observe the stagnation over decades.  Only when the short sighted political mediocrities we’ve voted into office force or encourage the taxpayer base to fund incentives to encourage residents and businesses into the core, will we see significant strides toward full vibrancy and infill.  Once a certain threshold of core population and activity has been achieved, we will see residents, businesses, and visitors "competing" to enter the core.

Apparently none of the short sighted political mediocrities have found it within their vision and ability to convey to their constituents that a vibrant city core will benefit the suburban population too. 

The mediocrities we’ve had for decades in our conservative establishment continue to feed upon the comforts of religion and the good old boy culture.  Comfort and complacency precludes one’s searching the far distances for challenges and much needed goals.  Too many of our mediocrities in office have no vision toward worthy goals for the core... and therefore perform no action to it.  Observe ..... stagnation over decades.  Shameful.