Jacksonville is a city located in Duval County, Florida, USA. It is the county seat of Duval County 6. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 777,704 .
Geographically, it is the largest city in the contiguous 48 states of the United States in terms of land area. It is also the largest city in Florida in terms of population in the city proper (ultimately ranking 13th in the country). The Jacksonville metropolitan area reached over one million residents in 1996. Jacksonville also has the distinction of being the largest city in the South outside of Texas.
Jacksonville and Duval County are consolidated. All areas of Duval County are considered to be part of Jacksonville, but the communities of Baldwin, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach have their own municipal governments as well.
The total area of Jacksonville is 874.3 square miles (2,264.5 km²). Jacksonville was originally named Cowford because the St. Johns River is narrow there, allowing cattlemen to ford (herd cows across the river). The city was renamed in 1822 for the first territorial governor of Florida and the future 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson. Jacksonville is sometimes abbreviated as Jax, which comes from the acronym on luggage tags attached to baggage entering Jacksonville International Airport.
Archaeological evidence indicates 6,000 years of human habitation in the area. The Timucua Indians were the predominate local tribe when European explorers arrived. The largest Timucua town in the region was Ossachite, which stood approximately where the courthouse stands today. Its name is the earliest recorded name for the area.
Colonial and territorial history
Cowford, early 1800'sIn 1513, Spanish explorers landed in Florida and claimed their discovery for Spain. In 1562, the French Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault explored the St. Johns River area and in 1564 the French established Fort Caroline. Spanish troops, led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, from nearby St. Augustine attacked the fort and drove off the French in 1565. Spain ceded Florida to the British in 1763, who then gave control back to Spain in 1783. The first permanent settlement was founded as "Cow Ford" in 1791 and Florida became a United States territory in 1821. On June 15th, 1822 settlers sent a petition to the U.S. Secretary of State asking that Jacksonville be named a port of entry; this is the first recorded use of the name. The charter for a town government was approved by the Florida Legislative Council on February 9, 1832.
During the Civil War, Jacksonville was a key supply point for hogs and cattle leaving Florida and aiding the Confederate cause. Throughout most of the war, the US Navy maintained a blockade around Florida's ports, including Jacksonville. In October 1862 Union forces captured a Confederate battery at St. Johns Bluff and occupied Jacksonville. Throughout the war Jacksonville would change hands several times, though never with a battle. On February 20, 1864 Union soldiers from Jacksonville marched inland and confronted the Confederate Army at the Battle of Olustee which resulted in a Confederate victory. By the end of the war in 1865, a Union commander commented that Jacksonville had become "pathetically dilapidated, a mere skeleton of its former self, a victim of war."
Winter Resort Era
1893 birds eye view of Jacksonville, with steamboats moving throughout the St. Johns RiverFollowing the Civil War, during Reconstruction and afterward, Jacksonville and nearby St. Augustine became popular winter resorts for the rich and famous of the Gilded Age. Visitors arrived by steamboat and (beginning in the 1880s) by railroad, and wintered at dozens of hotels and boarding houses. The area declined in importance as a resort destination when Henry Flagler extended the Florida East Coast Railroad to the south, arriving in Palm Beach in 1894 and in the Miami area in 1896. Not even hosting the Subtropical Exposition, a Florida-style world's fair attended by President Grover Cleveland in 1888, served to provide a lasting boost for tourism in Jacksonville.
Yellow Fever Epidemics
Jacksonville's prominence as a winter resort was dealt another blow by major yellow fever outbreaks in 1886 and 1888, during the latter of which nearly ten percent of the more than 4,000 victims, including the city's mayor, died. In the absence of scientific knowledge concerning the cause of yellow fever, nearly half of the city's panicked residents fled, despite the imposition of quarantines and the (ineffectual) fumigation of inbound and outbound mail. Not surprisingly, Jacksonville's reputation as a healthful tourist destination suffered.
Spanish American War
During the Spanish American War, gunrunners helping the Cuban rebels used Jacksonville as the center for smuggling illegal arms and supplies to Cuba. Duval county sheriff, and future state governor, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was one of many gunrunners operating out of the city. Author Stephen Crane travelled to Jacksonville to cover the war.
Great Fire of 1901
On May 2, 1901 hot ash from a shantyhouse's chimney landed on the drying moss at Cleaveland's Fiber Factory. At half past noon most of the Cleaveland workers were at lunch, but by the time they returned the entire city block was engulfed in flames. The fire destroyed the business district and rendered 10,000 residents homeless in the course of eight hours. Florida Governor William S. Jennings declared a state of martial law in Jacksonville and dispatched several state militia units to Jacksonville. Reconstruction started immediately, and the city was returned to civil authority on May 17. Famed New York architect Henry Klutho helped rebuild the city. Klutho and other architects, enamored of the "Prairie Style" of architecture then being popularized by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and other Midwestern cities, designed exuberant local buildings with a Florida flair. While many of Klutho's buildings were demolished by the 1980s, a number of his creations remain, including the St. James Building from 1911 (a former department store that is now Jacksonville's City Hall) and the Morocco Temple from 1910. The Klutho Apartments, in Springfield, were recently restored and converted into office space by local charity Fresh Ministries. Despite the losses of the last several decades, Jacksonville still has one of the largest collections of Prairie Style buildings (particularly residences) outside the Midwest.
Motion Picture Industry
In the early 1900s, Jacksonville was a center of the fledgling motion picture industry. The city's warm climate, excellent rail access, and low costs all helped to make Jacksonville the "Winter Film Capital of the World". By the early 1910s, Jacksonville hosted over 30 studios employing over 1000 actors. However, some residents objected to the hallmarks of the early movie industry, such as car chases in the streets, simulated bank robberies and fire alarms in public places, and even the occasional riot scene. In 1917, a conservative mayor was elected on the platform of taming the city's movie industry. Subsequently the film studios opted to move to a more hospitable political climate in California.
"Gateway to Florida"
The 1920s brought significant real estate development and speculation to the city during the great Florida land boom (and bust). Hordes of train passengers passed through Jacksonville on their way south to the new tourist destinations of South Florida, as most of the passenger trains arriving from the population centers of the North were routed through Jacksonville. Completion of the Dixie Highway (portions of which became U.S. Highway 1) in the 1920s began to draw significant automobile traffic as well. An important entry point to the state since the 1870s, Jacksonville now justifiably billed itself as the "Gateway to Florida."
A significant part of Jacksonville's growth in the 20th century came from the presence of navy bases in the region. October 15, 1940, Naval Air Station Jacksonville ("NAS Jax") on the westside became the first navy installation in the city. This base was a major training center during World War II, with over 20,000 pilots and aircrewmen being trained there. After the war, the Navy's elite Blue Angels were established at NAS Jax. Today NAS Jax is the third largest navy installation in the country and employs over 23,000 civilian and active-duty personnel.
In June 1941, land in the westernmost side of Duval County was earmarked for a second naval air facility. This became NAS Cecil Field, which during the Cold War was designated a Master Jet Base, the only one in the South. RF-8 Crusaders out of Cecil Field detected missiles in Cuba, precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1993 the Navy decided to close NAS Cecil Field and in 1999 this was completed. The land once occupied by this installation is now known as the "Cecil Commerce Center" and contains one of the campuses of Florida Community College which now offers civil aeronautics classes.
December 1942 saw the addition of a third naval installation to Jacksonville: Naval Station Mayport at the mouth of the St. Johns River. This port developed through World War II and today is the home port for many types of navy ships, most notably the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy. NS Mayport current employs about 14,000 personnel.
Jacksonville is also not far from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in St. Marys, Georgia, which is home to part of the US Navy's nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet.
The naval base became a key training ground in the 1950s and 1960s and as such, the population of the city rose dramatically. More than half of the residents in Jacksonville had some tie to the naval base, whether it be a relative stationed there, or due to employment opportunities, by 1970, necessitating the opening of an international airport in the area. While the city is more independent from the Navy today, it is still a strong influence in the community.
Jacksonville has a history of racial segregation and violence. This came to a head on "Ax Handle Saturday", August 27, 1960. A group of white men (allegedly some were also members of the Ku Klux Klan) armed with baseball bats and ax handles attacked civil rights protesters conducting sit-ins at segregated downtown restaurants. The violence spread, and the white mob started attacking all African-Americans in sight. Rumors were rampant on both sides that the unrest was spreading around the county (in reality, the violence stayed in relatively the same location, and did not spill over into the mostly-white, upper-class Cedar Hills neighborhood, for example). The police did not make an attempt to stop the violence until the "blacks started holding their own."
Before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, African-Americans in Jacksonville were denied healthcare services at every hospital except the all-black Brewster Hospital, even when their condition was critical or life-threatening.
In the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act and Ax Handle Saturday, the previously segregated black and white communities worked together in open dialog, integration, and participatory government.
Despite the progress, racial tension was very evident when the public schools in Jacksonville were integrated in 1967. The black students attending integrated schools endured racial epithets, being spit on and, in some extreme cases, being stoned by their white classmates.
On June 1, 2003, John Peyton became Mayor of Jacksonville after defeating African-American Sheriff Nat Glover. Matt Carlucci, a white Republican endorsed Glover (a Democrat) after being defeated in the open primary. Afterwards, Carlucci's business was vandalized with the words "NIGGER LOVER", and Glover's campaign headquarters was vandalized with "NO NIGGER MAYOR". The only witness to the crime said he saw two black males running from the scene.
It should be noted that Nat Glover was the first (and only) African-American sheriff in the state of Florida since Reconstruction, winning two elections before running for mayor. Before he joined the police force, he was one of the youths who were involved in the axe handle riots.
After World War II, the government of the City of Jacksonville began to increase spending to fund new building projects in the boom that occurred after the war. Mayor Haydon Burns' "Jacksonville Story" resulted in the construction of a new city hall, civic auditorium, public library and other projects that created a dynamic sense of civic pride. However, the development of suburbs and a subsequent wave of "white flight" left Jacksonville with a much poorer population than before. Much of the city's tax base dissipated, leading to problems with funding education, sanitation, and traffic control within the city limits. In addition, residents in unincorporated suburbs had difficulty obtaining municipal services such as sewage and building code enforcement. In 1958, a study recommended that the City of Jacksonville begin annexing outlying communities in order to create the needed tax base to improve services throughout the county. Voters outside the city limits rejected annexation plans in six referendums between 1960 and 1965.
In the mid 1960s, corruption scandals began to arise among many of the city's officials, who were mainly elected through the traditional good ol' boy network. After a grand jury was convened to investigate, several officials were indicted and more were forced to resign. Consolidation, led by Sheriff Dale Carson, began to win more support during this period, from both inner city blacks (who wanted more involvement in government) and whites in the suburbs (who wanted more services and more control over the center city). Lower taxes, increased economic development, unification of the community, better public spending and effective administration by a more central authority were all cited as reasons for a new consolidated government.
A consolidation referendum was held in 1967, and voters approved the plan. On October 1, 1968, the governments merged to create the Consolidated City of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville uses the Mayor-Council form of city government. The mayor is the Chief Executive and Administrative officer, called the Strong-Mayor form. He holds veto power over all resolutions and ordinances made by the city council. He also has the power to hire and fire the head of various city departments. The city council has nineteen members, fourteen of whom are elected from districts, and five who are elected at-large. Four municipalities within Duval County voted not to join the consolidated government. These communities consist of only 6% of the total population within the county. The municipalities are Baldwin, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach. Not all city services were merged, making for a less-than-full consolidation of the city-county. Several authorities remain independent of the combined city-county government, including the school board, electric authority, port authority, and airport authority. Fire, police, health and welfare, recreation, public works, and housing and urban development were all combined under the new government. The four separate communities provide their own services, while maintaining the right to contract the consolidated government to provide services for them. Under the new government structure, anyone living in Duval County is eligible to run for Mayor of the City of Jacksonville, even those living in the four separate municipalities.
Jacksonville is home to a number of professional sports teams:
Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League
Jacksonville Suns, a Southern League minor league baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers
Jacksonville Barracudas of the SPHL ice hockey league
Jacksonville was named as the site for Super Bowl XXXIX, becoming the third city in the state of Florida (Miami and Tampa being the others) to host the event. The game was held on February 6, 2005 and featured halftime entertainment by former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. Due to the milder climate and lesser amount of hotel space, many media critics decried Jacksonville as a sub-standard host for a Super Bowl, although local leaders felt the criticism was unwarranted. The game itself was played under ideal football weather (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit), and the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21.
The Jacksonville area also boasts many excellent golf courses. In Ponte Vedra lies the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, one of the most famous golf courses in the world and home to the annual PGA TPC (The Player's Championship) tournament. Nearby St. Augustine is home to the World Golf Village and World Golf Hall of Fame.
Professional tennis is in town each year when the WTA holds the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island Plantation near Fernandina Beach, just north of Jacksonville. Other sports events include the annual Kingfish Tournament held in July, the Florida-Georgia football game, commonly known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" held every October, the ACC Championship, and the Gator Bowl held in early January. University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Edward Waters College also field athletic teams in a number of sports.
The city's biggest cultural event is the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, an annual event featuring many of the biggest names in jazz. Jacksonville also features two art museums, the Cummer Gallery of Art and the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art. The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra makes regular performances at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts near downtown. The newly built Veterans Memorial Arena has quickly grown in popularity with many acts as within the two years since it has been built KISS, Aerosmith, Elton John, Green Day, Metallica, Britney Spears, and many other acts have performed there.
Jacksonville also host an annual concert event known as "Come Together Day" which is held every spring at Metro Park (located adjacent to ALLTEL Stadium)on the banks of the St. John's River. The largest names in the Hip Hop/R&B genre make their way to Jacksonville to perform in front of thousands of spectators. The event is sponsored by local radio stations. Past performers include: Monica, Ying Yang Twins, Master P, Trina, David Banner, Trick Daddy,Destiny's Child and a large host of other prominent hip-hop legends. Crowds from all across the region converge on Jacksonville for one of the largest hip hop events of the year. The event was originally created as a way of drawing the black community together in the sense of a family reunion. Come Together Day has since grown to a major event welcoming tourist from all across the southeast.
Citizens of Jacksonville and surronding counties make their the way to the Jacksonville Riverwalk to be dazzled by fireworks.On the Fourth of July when weather permitting the city is the site of one of the largest fireworks displays in the nation. Tens of thousands gather at Metro park, which is also the site of a Happy Birthday America Concert. Also on the night of New Years' Eve Jacksonville puts on a major fireworks-concert on the banks of the River to usher in the new year.The cities' urban core is jammed pack with crowds and partiers who are poised to attend the Gator Bowl the next day. These fireworks shows makes use of Jacksonville's beautiful downtown skyscrapers and its numerous colorful lit bridges as barges to create a festive atomosphere.
Jacksonville also has significant natural beauty from the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean. The city center includes the Jacksonville Landing shopping center and the Riverwalk. Downtown Jacksonville has a memorable skyline with the tallest building being the Bank of America Building, constructed in 1990 with a height of 617ft (188m). Other notable structures include the Modis Building (once the defining building in the Jacksonville skyline, owned by Independent Life) with its distinctive flared base and the Riverplace Tower, which is the tallest pre-cast, post-tension concrete structure in the world.
In addition, the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens boast the second largest animal collection in the state, only behind Disney's Animal Kingdom. The zoo features Elephants, Lions, Jaguars (which the local NFL team are named for), a multitude of Reptiles houses and free flight aviaries, and many other animals.