No doubt it is was a hot, sweaty job laying this new water main in Jacksonville. The photo depicts several African Americans at work in about 1914. African American residents toiled mostly in low-paying, unskilled & semi-skilled jobs.
Jacksonville was built largely with African American labor. For almost 100 years, people of African American descent made up a majority of the city’s population. This was a fact until almost 1920.
In the picture above, the street clock on the right-hand side seems to be the well-known Greenleaf & Crosby Clock. If so, then this would be Bay Street. The clock was installed soon after the Great Fire in 1901, and it was first located in front of a jewelry store at 41 West Bay Street. The site of the old store is now occupied by the Modis Building, and the ornate timepiece has been moved to the northwest corner of Laura & Adams.
The other, very similar picture also comes from the Florida State Archives. It shows the laying of a water main on Bay Street in 1914. This gives more weight to the fact that the above photo probably also depicts the same operation.
The water pipe in the picture doesn’t seem to be made of wood, yet city workers in recent years have uncovered at least one old wooden pipe in Jacksonville. They dug it up on East Second Street in south Springfield. It lay in front of a house dating from about 1915.