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Dinner on the Docks

DINNER HOUR ON THE DOCKS — That’s the title of this old postcard, but the docks are long gone. Indeed, the St. Johns River itself no long runs through this spot.

No wonder the men are wearing coats and long-sleeve shirts: The original photo may have been taken on January 29, 1912, according to the Florida State Archives. The picture has been reproduced on a hand-colored postcard. This card dates from about the period 1915 to 1930.

The workers are sitting on Northbank docks that used to extend over the St. Johns. The area has since been filled in. Today, the laborers would be relaxing in the area between The Landing and the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts.

In the postcard above, the road running up into the distance is Hogan Street. The Skyway now runs down the middle of Hogan before turning west on Bay Street. Notice the tall, yellowish building, the Seminole Hotel. Designed by the well-known Jax architect Henry Klutho, this structure featured Indian busts that were said to have been modeled on Klutho’s own likeness. You can see one of these pieces preserved in the awesome “Currents of Time” exhibit at the MOSH (Museum of Science & History). Now rising on the Seminole’s spot is the tall, blue Bank of America Building, with its pointy top. The Seminole was opened in 1910, closed in 1967, and demolished in 1974. In the hotel’s foreground was the old Times-Union Building, the orange, three-story structure. It was situated on the southeast corner of Hogan & Bay.

WATCH YOUR BACK! — An interesting tidbit about the waterfront once came from Loyd Sandgren, the late, long-time Jacksonville photographer. Sixty or seventy years ago, stevedores unloaded South American bananas in the vicinity of today’s Berkman Plaza. As the workers carried the heavy loads of fruit on their shoulders, they filed by a man with a special bat. His job? To smack the tarantulas that clung to the bananas.

written by Glenn Emery

Copyright © 2019 by Jacksonville Historical Society