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Jacksonville’s Second Century

How much history can a city accumulate in 200 years? A lot, and Jacksonville has more, and more interesting history, than any place in Florida. Compared to our peer cities though, we seem less concerned with our civic inheritance. Why that is so makes for a lively conversation about Jacksonville’s identity. Whether it’s to explain a place or a person, the past is always where we look.

In May’s column we looked at Jacksonville’s first 100 years, from 1822 to roughly 1922. Now it’s time to begin a Bicentennial glance at our most recent century. If we only measured Jacksonville’s existence since the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, that would be enough to occupy a team of historians. From 1920 to 1925, in just five years, the city’s population grew by almost 9%. The 1920s saw Jacksonville reach the zenith of its downtown commercial prosperity, with the construction of modern high-rises such as the Barnett Bank building, right, (now The Residences at Barnett), a new federal courthouse (now the State Attorney’s offices), as well as new church sanctuaries, schools, and factories. Many are now landmarks, at or nearing their own centennials.

Every city is unique, but Jacksonville stands out for its beauty combined with grittiness, its imposing size contrasted with its small-city feel, its serious problems balanced against its undeniable promise. Helping to honestly and authentically explain Jacksonville is why there is a Jacksonville Historical Society. Our work is challenging, endless, and endlessly fascinating. Please join us and become a part of the story. For the rest of this story, click here.


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