History of Jacksonville
The area of present-day Jacksonville was originally inhabited by the Timucua people. In 1594, the French established a colony called Fort Caroline, considered to be one of the earliest European settlements in continental USA. The settlement then passed to the British, who expanded it on a narrow point of land on the lake near the cattle crossing. At the time, the settlement was called Cowford in English and Wacca Pilatka in the language of the Seminole. The actual town was established in 1822, after the USA acquired Florida from Spain in 1821. The town was named after Andrew Jackson, who was the first military governor of the Florida Territory and seventh president of the USA.
During the Civil War, Jacksonville was the primary supplier of cattle and hogs for the Confederate Army. During Reconstruction, it became a popular resort for the wealthy. The harbor in the city was significantly improved in the late 19th century and Jacksonville became a major civilian and military deepwater port. In 1901, downtown Jacksonville was devastated by fire, known as the “great Fire of 1901” and one of the worst disasters in Florida history. In the 1910s, Jacksonville became a large banking and insurance center and also one of the preferred locations for New York-based filmmakers who made more than 30 movies over the course of the decade.
After the World War II, Jacksonville, like other large American cities, suffered negative effects of urban sprawl. In the following couple of decades, the city’s tax base grew thinner, leading to problems with public funding of education, health and traffic. In the 1960s, the city has serious problems with corruption. All these problems eventually lead to proposals for government reform, resulting in a new consolidated government. The Consolidated City of Jacksonville was established in 1968 under the slogan “Bold New City of the South.”
Geography and Climate
Jacksonville has a total area of 874.3 square miles, which makes it the largest city by land area in the contiguous United States (four of the largest cities by land area in the USA are located in Alaska). The city is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, where the Jacksonville beaches are located. The St. John’s River passes through the city and its largest tributary in the area, the Trout River, is located entirely within the city limits.
Climate in Jacksonville is humid subtropical. Winters are mild and summers are hot and humid, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Jacksonville generally suffers less from major hurricanes compared to other East Coast cities. The strongest hurricane to hit the city was Hurricane Dora in 1964.
Landmarks and City Structure
Jacksonville skyline is dominated by the Bank of America Tower. Other notable buildings include Wells Fargo Center, EverBank Center, The Peninsula at St. John’s Center and Riverplace Tower.
There are over 500 neighborhoods in Jacksonville. Some of the well-known ones include Downtown Jacksonville and the surrounding neighborhoods of Brooklyn, LaVilla, Riverside, Avondale, San Marco and Eastside.
Jacksonville Beaches is a group of municipalities, all parts of or suburbs of Jacksonville, separated from the city by the Intracoastal Waterway.
Jacksonville has the largest urban park system in the USA. Hemming Plaza is the oldest park in the city and other notable parks include the Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park, in memory of the late singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd; Tree Hill Nature Center, Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, Jessie Ball DuPont Park and Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail.
Population of Jacksonville
At the 2010 Census the city had a population of 821, 784, of which 55.1% was non-Hispanic White, 30.7% Black or African American, 7.7% Hispanic or Latino, 4.3% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.9% multiracial and 5.2% some other race.
The largest religious group in Jacksonville is Protestant (with megachurches like Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, First Baptist Church and Christ’s Church), followed by Roman Catholic (Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine), Eastern Orthodox, LDS Church, Jewish and Muslim.
Jacksonville owes much of its historic growth and economic development to the fact it is located on the St. Johns River and on the Atlantic Ocean. As the largest city in Florida and the largest deepwater port in the South, the city managed to establish itself as one of the regional distribution and transportation hubs.
Today, the economy in Jacksonville is balanced between distribution, financial services, information services, manufacturing, consumer goods, insurance and biomedical technologies, among other sectors.
Some of the largest companies based in Jacksonville include CSX Corporation, Fidelity National Information Services, Fidelity National Financial and Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.
Jacksonville has the third-largest naval presence in the nation, after San Diego and Norfolk and military sector is the largest employer in the city. Another large contributor to the local economy is the Port of Jacksonville.
Culture and Attractions in Jacksonville
Some of the well-known attractions and sites of interest in Jacksonville include the Landing, the Riverwalks, museums such as the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Alexander Brest Museum and Gallery, Jacksonville Maritime Museum, LaVilla Museum, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Adventure Landing amusement park and many others.
Popular annual events include the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Springing the Blues and Jacksonville Film Festival.
Jacksonville is considered to be one of the birthplaces of Southern Rock, with bands such as The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot and others. It was also home to Pat Boone and, more recently, to Limp Bizkit, hip-hop attractions such as 69 Boyz and 95 South.
Education and Transportation
Major institutions of higher education in the city include University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, Edward Waters College and Florida State College at Jacksonville.
The primary airport in the city is Jacksonville International Airport. Public seaports are managed by Jacksonville Port Authority, the second-busiest in the nation for automobile handling.