Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville (pronunciation dʒæksʌnˈvɪl or dʒæksʌnˈvʌl) is the largest city in Florida—in terms of both area and population—and is the county seat of Duval County. Since 1968, as a result of the consolidation of the city and county government (and a corresponding expansion of the city limits to include almost the entire county), Jacksonville has been the largest city in land area in the contiguous United States. In 2007, Jacksonville ranked as the United States' twelfth most populous city, with 805,605 residents. It is the principal city in the Greater Jacksonville Metropolitan Area, a region with a population of 1,300,823, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state, as of the 2006 Census Bureau estimates. Jacksonville is the third most populated city proper on the East Coast, after New York City and Philadelphia.

About south of the Georgia border, Jacksonville is in the First Coast region of northeast Florida and is centered on the banks of the St. Johns River. The settlement that became Jacksonville was founded in 1791 as Cowford because of its location at a narrow point in the river where cattle once crossed. In 1822, a year after the United States acquired Florida from Spain, the city was renamed for the first military governor of the Florida Territory, General Andrew Jackson, who would later be elected President of the United States. In 2008, Jacksonville was ranked as the third cleanest city in the United States by Yahoo! Real Estate and fourth best outdoor city by Forbes.


The history of Jacksonville spans hundreds of years. Ossachite, the name given by anthropologists to the first settlement in the area, was made over 6,000 years ago by the Timucua Indians in the vicinity of modern-day downtown Jacksonville.

European explorers first arrived in 1562, when French Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault charted the St. Johns River. René Goulaine de Laudonnière established the first European settlement at Fort Caroline two years later. On September 20, 1565, a Spanish force from the nearby Spanish settlement of St. Augustine attacked Fort Caroline, and killed all the French soldiers defending it (except Catholics). The Spanish renamed it Fort San Mateo. With the destruction of Fort Caroline, St. Augustineˈs position as the most important settlement in Florida was solidified.

Spain ceded Florida to the British in 1763, who then gave control back to Spain in 1783. The first permanent settlement in modern Jacksonville was settled as "Cowford" in 1791, at a narrow point in the St. Johns River where cattlemen could ford their livestock across. The Florida Territory was ceded to the United States in 1821, and in 1822, Jacksonville's current name had come into use. U.S. settlers led by Isaiah D. Hart authored a charter for a town government, which was approved by the Florida Legislative Council on February 9, 1832.

During the American Civil War, Jacksonville was a key supply point for hogs and cattle leaving Florida and aiding the Confederate cause. The city was blockaded by the Union, changing hands several times. Though no battles were fought in Jacksonville, the city was left in a considerable state of disarray after the war.

During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, Jacksonville and nearby St. Augustine became popular winter resorts for the rich and famous. Visitors arrived by steamboat and later by railroad. The city's tourism, however, was dealt major blows in the late 1800s by yellow fever outbreaks and the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to south Florida.

On May 3, 1901, downtown Jacksonville was ravaged by a fire that was started at a fiber factory. Known as the "Great Fire of 1901", it was one of the worst disasters in Florida history and the largest ever urban fire in the Southeast; it destroyed the business district and rendered 10,000 residents homeless in the course of eight hours. It is said the glow from the flames could be seen in Savannah, Georgia and the smoke plumes in Raleigh, North Carolina. Famed New York architect Henry John Klutho was a primary figure in the reconstruction of the city. More than 13,000 buildings were constructed between 1901 and 1912.

In the 1910s, New York-based moviemakers were attracted to Jacksonville's warm climate, exotic locations, excellent rail access, and cheap labor. Over the course of the decade, more than 30 silent film studios were established, earning Jacksonville the title "Winter Film Capital of the World". However, the city's conservative political climate and the emergence of Hollywood as a major film production center ended the city's film industry. One converted movie studio site (Norman Studios) remains in Arlington; It has been converted to the Jacksonville Silent Film Museum at Norman Studios.

During this time, Jacksonville also became a banking and insurance center, with companies such as Barnett Bank, Atlantic National Bank, Florida National Bank, Prudential, Gulf Life, Afro-American Insurance, Independent Life and American Heritage Life thriving in the business district. The U.S. Navy also became a major employer and economic force during the 1940s, with the construction of three naval bases in the city. Jacksonville, like most large cities in the United States, suffered from negative effects of rapid urban sprawl after World War II.

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 W. 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, 11 officials were indicted and more were forced to resign. Consolidation, led by J.J. Daniel and Claude Yates, 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 central city). The simultaneous disaccredation of all fifteen of Duval County's public high schools in 1964 added momentum to the proposals for government reform. 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. Fire, police, health & welfare, recreation, public works, and housing & urban development were all combined under the new government.

The Better Jacksonville Plan, promoted as a blueprint for Jacksonville's future and approved by Jacksonville voters in 2000, authorized a half-penny sales tax to generate most of the revenue required for the $2.25 billion package of projects that included road & infrastructure improvements, environmental preservation, targeted economic development and new or improved public facilities.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 874.3 square miles (2,264.5 km²), making Jacksonville the largest city in land area in the contiguous United States; of this, 757.7 square miles (1,962.4 km²; 86.66%) is land and 116.7 square miles (302.1 km²; 13.34%) is water. Jacksonville completely encircles the city of Baldwin. Nassau County lies to the north, Baker County lies to the west, and Clay and St. Johns County lie to the south; the Atlantic Ocean lies to the east, along with the Jacksonville Beaches. The St. Johns River divides the city. The Trout River, a major tributary of the St. Johns River, is located entirely within Jacksonville.


Jacksonville has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa), with mild weather during winters and hot weather during summers. High temperatures average 64 to 91 °F (18-33 °C) throughout the year. High heat indices are not uncommon for the summer months in the Jacksonville area. High temperatures can reach mid to high 90s with heat index ranges of 105-115 °F. The highest temperature ever recorded in Jacksonville was 105 °F (43 °C) on July 21, 1942. It is common for daily thunderstorms to erupt during a standard summer afternoon. These are caused by the heating of the land and water, combined with extremely high humidity.

During winter, the area can experience hard freezes during the night. Such cold weather is usually short lived, as the city averages only 15 nights below freezing . The coldest temperature recorded in Jacksonville was 7 °F (-14 °C) on January 21, 1985, a day that still holds the record cold for many locations in the eastern half of the US. Even rarer in Jacksonville than freezing temperatures is snow. When snow does fall, it usually melts before touching the ground, or upon making contact with the ground. Most residents of Jacksonville can remember accumulated snow on only one occasion—a thin ground cover that occurred December 23 of 1989.

Jacksonville has suffered less damage from hurricanes than most other east coast cities. The city has only received one direct hit from a hurricane since 1871, although Jacksonville has experienced hurricane or near-hurricane conditions more than a dozen times due to storms passing through the state from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, or passing to the north or south in the Atlantic and brushing the area. The strongest effect on Jacksonville was from Hurricane Dora in 1964, the only recorded storm to hit the First Coast with sustained hurricane force winds. The eye crossed St. Augustine, with winds that had just barely diminished to , making it a strong Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Rainfall averages around 52 inches a year, with the wettest months being June through September.



Downtown Jacksonville has a memorable skyline with the tallest building being the Bank of America Tower, constructed in 1990 as the Barnett Bank Center. It has a height of 617 ft (188 m) and includes 43 floors. Other notable structures include the 37-story Modis Building (once, with its distinctive flared base, the defining building in the Jacksonville skyline), originally built in 1972-74 by the Independent Life and Accident Insurance Company, and the 28 floor Riverplace Tower which, when completed in 1967, was the tallest precast, post-tensioned concrete structure in the world.

Rank Name Street Address Height
feet / meters
Floors Year
1 Bank of America Tower 50 North Laura Street 617 / 188 43 1990
2 Modis Tower 1 Independent Drive 535 / 163 37 1974
3 AT&T Tower 424 North Pearl Street 447 / 136 32 1983
4 The Peninsula at St. Johns Center 1401 Riverplace Boulevard 437 / 133 36 2006
5 Riverplace Tower 1301 Riverplace Boulevard 432 / 132 28 1967


As the largest city in land area in the contiguous United States, Jacksonville’s official website divides the city into six major sections:

  • Greater Arlington (Arlington) is situated east and south of the St. Johns River and north of Beach Blvd.
  • North Jacksonville, (Northside) officially considered to be everything north of the St. Johns & Trout Rivers and east of US 1.
  • Northwest Jacksonville is located north of Interstate 10, south of the Trout River and surrounds the downtown section.
  • Southeast Jacksonville (Southside, Mandarin), referring to everything east of the St. Johns River and south of Beach Blvd.
  • Southwest Jacksonville (Westside) consists of everything west of the St. Johns River and south of Interstate 10.
  • Urban Core (Downtown) includes the south & north banks of the narrowest part of the St. Johns River east from the Fuller Warren Bridge and extending roughly 4 miles north and east.

With the rapid growth in the eastern part of Duval County, the Intracoastal/Beaches/Ponte Vedra area is viewed by many as a major section as well, but is not generally included in a Jacksonville list since they lie outside of the Jacksonville city limits. There is also a distinct part of the city known as "Eastside" which those unfamiliar with Jacksonville's overall geography sometimes mistakenly regard as one of the major divisions of town, rather than the localized neighborhood which it is.

Today, what distinguishes a "section" of Jacksonville from a "neighborhood" is primarily a matter of size and divisibility. However, definitions are imprecise, and sometimes not universally agreed upon. Each of these sections not only encompasses a large area, but also, each is divided into many neighborhoods. Each of these neighborhoods, in turn, has its own identity. Some, such as Mandarin, LaVilla and Bayard had existed previously as independent towns or villages, prior to consolidation, and have their own histories.

Parks and gardens

Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the United States, providing facilities and services at more than 337 locations on more than 80,000 acres (320 km²) located throughout the city. Jacksonville gathers significant natural beauty from the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean and many parks provide access for people to boat, swim, fish, sail, jetski, surf and waterski. Several parks around the city have received international recognition. Kids Kampus, in particular, is a wonderful facility for families with young children.

The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens broke ground on a new center in April, 2007 and expect to open late in 2008.

The Veterans Memorial Wall is a tribute to local servicemen and women killed while serving in US armed forces. A ceremony is held each Memorial Day recognizing any service woman or man from Jacksonville who died in the previous year.

The Treaty Oak is a massive, 200 year-old tree at Jesse Ball Dupont Park in downtown. Office workers from nearby buildings sit on benches to eat lunch or read a book in the shade of its canopy.


Entertainment and performing arts

The Florida Theatre, opened in 1927, is located in downtown Jacksonville and is one of only four remaining high-style movie palaces built in Florida during the Mediterranean Revival architectural boom of the 1920s.

Theatre Jacksonville was organized in 1919 as the Little Theatre and is one of the oldest continually producing community theatres in the United States.

The Ritz Theatre, opened in 1929, is located in the LaVilla neighborhood of the northern part of Jacksonville's downtown. Rebuilt and opened in October, 1999.

The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts consists of three distinct halls: the Jim & Jan Moran Theater, a venue for touring Broadway shows; the Jacoby Symphony Hall, home of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; and the Terry Theater, intended for small shows and recitals. The building was originally erected as the Civic Auditorium in 1962 and underwent a major renovation and construction in 1996.

The Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, which opened in 2003, is a 16,000-seat performance venue that attracts national entertainment, sporting events and also houses the Jacksonville Sports Hall of Fame. It replaced the outdated Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum that was built in 1960 and demolished on June 26, 2003.

The Alhambra Dinner Theatre, located on the Southside near the University of North Florida, has offered professional productions that frequently starred well-known actors for over forty years. Smaller, independent theaters are also available, such as Players by the Sea at Jacksonville Beach.

In 1999, Stage Aurora Theatrical Company, Inc. was established in collaboration at Florida Community College at Jacksonville North Campus as. Currently, Stage Aurora Theatrical Company, whose goal is to produce theatre that enlightens, is the leading theatre of Northside Jacksonville and is located at Gateway Town Center.

Jacksonville is also home to The Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps, a junior team that competes in Drum Corps International Division II competition.

In the early 1900s, New York-based moviemakers were attracted to Jacksonville's warm climate, exotic locations, excellent rail access, and cheaper labor, earning the city the title of "The Winter Film Capital of the World". Over 30 movie studios were opened and thousands of silent films produced between 1908 and the 1920s, when most studios relocated to Hollywood, California.

Since that time, Jacksonville has been chosen by a number of film and television studios for on-location shooting. Notable motion pictures that have been partially or completely shot in Jacksonville since the silent film era include Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (1988), Brenda Starr (1989), G.I. Jane (1997), The Devil's Advocate (1997), Ride (1998), Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998), Forces of Nature (1999), Tigerland (2000), Sunshine State (2002), Basic (2003), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Lonely Hearts (2006), Monster House (2006), Moving McAllister (2007), The Year of Getting to Know Us (2008).

Notable television series or made-for-television films that have been partially or completely shot in Jacksonville include Intimate Strangers (1986), Inherit the Wind (1988), Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer (1989), A Girl of the Limberlost (1990), Orpheus Descending (1990), Pointman (1995), Saved by the Light (1995), The Babysitter's Seduction (1996), Sudden Terror: The Hijacking of School Bus #17 (1996), First Time Felon (1997), Gold Coast (1997), Safe Harbor (1999), The Conquest of America (2005), Super Bowl XXXIX (2005), and Recount (2008). In an episode of NCIS, the suspect/criminal was stationed at NAS Jax even though it wasn't really filmed there.

The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is held every April and is the second-largest jazz festival in the nation. Springing the Blues is a free outdoor blues festival held in Jacksonville Beach, also in April.

The Jacksonville Film Festival is held every May and features a variety of independent films, documentaries, and shorts screening at seven historic venues in the city. Past attendees of the festival have included director John Landis and Academy Award nominee Bill Murray and winner Graham Greene, both of whom were awarded the Tortuga Verde Lifetime Achievement Award.

The World of Nations Celebration is also in May. The Spring Music Fest is a free concert Memorial Day weekend that is sponsored by the city that features some of today's most popular artists.

Also in March is the Blessing of the Fleet and the Great Atlantic Seafood and Music Festival.

Every July 4 is the Freedom, Fanfare & Fireworks celebration, one of the nation's largest fireworks displays, held at Metropolitan Park and on the surface of the St. Johns River. A very large fireworks display is also held at Jacksonville Beach, centered on the rebuilt pier.

The AT&T Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament is an annual event held in July. The first contest was held in 1981 and it has grown to be the largest Kingfish tournament in the United States. Participation is limited to 1,000 boats that compete for over $500,000 in prizes, attracting approximately 30,000 spectators.

The Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair is held every November at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds & Exposition Center, featuring an array of carnival games & rides, food, live entertainment, vendor merchandise booths and agriculture/livestock exhibition & judging.

Planetfest, an annual corporate music festival in November, features a variety of musicians and is sponsored by Clear Channel™ radio station Planet 107.3.

Thanksgiving weekend is a busy time, with the lighting of Jacksonville's official Christmas Tree at the Jacksonville Landing on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The Jacksonville Light Parade happens on Saturday night following Thanksgiving.


The city center includes the Jacksonville Landing and the Jacksonville Riverwalks. The Landing is a popular riverfront dining and shopping venue, accessible by River Taxi from the Southbank Riverwalk. The Northbank Riverwalk runs 2.0 miles along the St. Johns from Berkman Plaza to I-95 at the Fuller Warren Bridge while the Southbank Riverwalk stretches 1.2 miles from the Radisson Hotel to Museum Circle.

Adjacent to Museum circle is St. Johns River Park (aka Friendship Park), location of Friendship Fountain, one of the most recognizable and popular attractions for locals as well as tourists in Jacksonville. This landmark was built in 1965 and promoted as the “World’s Tallest and Largest” fountain.

Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art (JMoMA) opened its facility in 2003, located adjacent to the Main Library downtown. Tracing its roots back to the formation of Jacksonville's Fine Arts Society in 1924, the museum features eclectic permanent and traveling exhibitions. In November 2006, JMOMA was renamed Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA Jacksonville) to reflect their continued commitment to art produced after the modernist period.

The Museum of Science & History (MOSH) is found on Jacksonville's Southbank Riverwalk, and features a main exhibit that changes quarterly, plus three floors of nature and local history exhibits, a hands-on science area and the Alexander Brest Planetarium.

Mr. Brest was also the benefactor for the Alexander Brest Museum and Gallery on the campus of Jacksonville University. The exhibits are a diverse collection of carved ivory, Pre-Columbian artifacts, Steuben glass, Chinese porcelain and Cloisonné, Tiffany glass, Boehm porcelain and rotating exhibitions containing the work of local, regional, national and international artists.

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens holds a large collection of European and American paintings, as well as a world-renowned collection of early Meissen porcelain. The museum is surrounded by three acres of formal English and Italian style gardens, and is located in the Riverside neighborhood, on the bank of the St. Johns River. There is also a hands-on children's section.

The Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts & documents. The museum in Jacksonville is located in a 1921 neoclassical building on the outskirts of downtown. In addition to document displays, there is also an antique-book library, with volumes dating from the late 1800s.

The Catherine Street Fire Station building is on the National Register of Historic Places and was relocated to Metropolitan Park in 1993. It houses the Jacksonville Fire Museum and features 500+ artifacts including an 1806 hand pumper.

The LaVilla Museum opened in 1999 and features a permanent display of African-American history. The art exhibits are changed periodically. There are also several historical properties and items of interest in the city, including the Klutho Building, the Old Morocco Temple Building, the Palm and Cycad Arboretum, and the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, originally built as Union Station train depot.

The Art Walk, a monthly outdoor art festival on the first Wednesday of each month, is sponsored by Downtown Vision, Inc, an organization which works to promote artistic talent and venues on the First Coast.

One of the most popular sporting events is the annual Gate River Run, the US National Championship 15K since 1994 and largest 15K race in the country. The 13,000+ recreational runners -- some running for the first time -- are joined by a few thousand more supporters, spectators and volunteers who make this Jacksonville's largest participation sporting event. The 9.3 mile race has taken place every March since 1977. .

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens boasts the second largest animal collection in the state. The zoo features elephants, lions, and, of course, jaguars (with an exhibit, Range of the Jaguar, hosted by the owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Delores and Wayne Weaver), as well as a multitude of reptile houses, free flight aviaries, and many other animals.

Shipwreck Island in Jacksonville Beach is the only waterpark in Duval County. It opened in 1995 and changes rides every few years to keep the season passholders coming back.

Adventure Landing in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach are the only amusement parks in Duval County.


Jacksonville is home to a number of professional sports teams. The Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League compete at the major league level. The city's other sports teams are minor league. Jacksonville is also home to two universities, a four year college, and the fourth largest community college in the country. All of these institutions field sports teams. Additionally, several college sports events are held in Jacksonville annually by teams and conferences not located in the city.

Club Sport League Venue
Jacksonville Jam Basketball American Basketball League (ABA) UNF Arena
Jacksonville Jaguars Football National Football League (NFL) - AFC Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Jacksonville Suns Baseball Southern League - Southern Division Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville
Jacksonville University College Baseball NCAA - Atlantic Sun Conference Alexander Brest Field
Jacksonville Barracudas Hockey Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) Jacksonville Ice
Jacksonville Dixie Blues Women's Football Women's Football League Episcopal High School
Jacksonville Breakers Women's Ice Hockey Florida Women's Hockey League Jacksonville Ice
Jacksonville University College Football NCAAPioneer Football League D.B. Milne Field
Jacksonville University College Basketball NCAAAtlantic Sun Conference Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
Edward Waters College College Football NAIAFlorida Sun Conference Earl Kitchings Stadium
Edward Waters College College Basketball NAIAFlorida Sun Conference James Weldon Johnson Gymansium
University of North Florida College Basketball NCAAAtlantic Sun Conference UNF Arena
University of North Florida College Baseball NCAAAtlantic Sun Conference UNF Harmon Stadium
University of North Florida College Lacrosse Florida Lacrosse League - Division II (FLL) UNF Intramural Fields
Jacksonville Axemen Rugby League American National Rugby League UNF Stadium Field
Duval Panthers Minor American Football FFAA Jean Ribault High School


The Florida Times-Union is the major daily newspaper in Jacksonville and is its official Web site. Another daily newspaper is The Daily Record. Popular magazines include Folio Weekly, MetroJacksonville, Jacksonville Free Press, Jacksonville Business Journal, The Florida Star, Saint Augustine Catholic, Arbus, Hola News, and Jacksonville Magazine.

Jacksonville is served by television stations affiliated with major American networks including WTLV (NBC), WJXX (ABC), WTEV (CBS), WAWS (FOX/My Network TV), WJCT (PBS),and WCWJ (CW). WJXT is a former longtime CBS affiliate that turned independent in 2002. WQXT channel 22 of St Augustine is an independent TV station serving America's oldest city. WQXT began broadcasting in 1998. Its broadcast footprint covers Jacksonville.

For more details on this topic, see Radio Stations in Jacksonville

Jacksonville's radio market is dominated by the same two large ownership groups that dominate the radio industry across the United States: Cox Radio and Clear Channel Communications. The dominant AM radio station in terms of ratings is WOKV 690AM, which is also the flagship station for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In September 2006, WOKV began simulcasting on 106.5 FM as WOKV FM. There are two radio stations broadcasting a primarily contemporary hits format; WAPE 95.1 has dominated this niche for over twenty years, and more recently has been challenged by WFKS 97.9 FM (KISS FM). WJBT 93.3 (The Beat) is a hip-hop/R&B station, WPLA 107.3 is a modern rock and alternative music station, WFYV 104.5—Rock 105 Jacksonville Classic rock, WQIK 99.1 is a country station as well as WGNE-FM 99.9, WCRJ FM 88.1 (The Promise) is the main Contemporary Christian station operating since 1984, WHJX 105.7 and WFJO 92.5 plays music in Spanish like salsa, merengue, and reggaeton, and WJCT 89.9 is the local public radio station and NPR affiliate. A local Jacksonville college, Jones College also hosts a station WKTZ 90.9 FM.


Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, and the twelfth most populous city in the United States. As of the census estimates of 2006, there were 799,875 people, 315,796 households, and 199,037 families residing in the city. However, it is perhaps misleading to compare Jacksonville's population to other major cities. As a result of the 1968 consolidation of Jacksonville and Duval County, most of the suburban communities of Jacksonville were absorbed within the city limits of Jacksonville proper. It may be a more accurate comparison to compare the metropolitan area of Jacksonville to the Metropolitan area of other cities.

The population density was 374.9/km² (970.9/mi²). There were 308,826 housing units at an average density of 157.4/km² (407.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.48% White, 34.03% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 2.78% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.33% from other races, and 1.99% from two or more races. 4.16% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The largest ancestries include: German (9.6%), American (9.3%), Irish (9.0%), English (8.5%), and Italian (3.5%). Jacksonville has, as named by the United States Census the 10th largest Arab population in the United States. Also Jacksonville has a large Filipino population, in part related to their tradition of service with the Navy.

There were 284,499 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 16.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.07. In the city, the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $40,316, and the median income for a family was $47,243. Males had a median income of $32,547 versus $25,886 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,337. About 9.4% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.


As of 2000, English spoken as a first language accounted for 90.60%, while Spanish was at 4.13%, and Tagalog spoken as a mother tongue made up 1.00% of the population. In total, all languages spoken other than English were at 9.39%.


Jacksonville has a diverse religious population. The city is estimated to contain 265,158 Evangelical Protestants and 89,649 Mainline Protestants who attend a total of 794 churches. Several of these are megachurches, including First Baptist Church downtown and Christ's Church (formerly Mandarin Christian Church) on Greenland Road. There are 162,329 Roman Catholics who attend 51 Catholic churches within the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine. Since 1906, the city's Unitarian Universalists have worshipped at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville The Episcopal Diocese of Florida has its see in St. John's Cathedral, the current building dating from 1906. There is a good representation of various Lutheran Synods, as well. The greater metropolitan area also has a Jewish population of 14,000, mostly residing in the neighborhood of Mandarin. There are two Reform, four Conservative, and four Orthodox synagogues, three of them Chabad-affiliated,. There are over 3,000 members of various Eastern Orthodox church jurisdictions in eight parishes or missions, and 18,050 of other religious affiliations. Within the city limits there are also seven Mormon church buildings housing twelve congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a population of Muslims centered around the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida,, a Bahá'í center, and New Age and Neopagan communities.

Law and government

Administrative structure

The most noteworthy feature of Jacksonville government is its consolidated nature. The Duval County-Jacksonville consolidation eliminated any type of separate county executive or legislature, and supplanted these positions with the Mayor of Jacksonville and the City Council of the City of Jacksonville, respectively. Because of this, voters who live outside of the city limits of Jacksonville, but inside of Duval County, are allowed not only to vote in elections for these positions, but to run for them as well. In fact, in 1995, John Delaney, a resident of Neptune Beach, was elected mayor of the City of Jacksonville.


In 1968, the small municipalities of Baldwin, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach voted not to join the consolidated government. The four separate communities, which comprise only 6% of the total county population, provide their own municipal services, while maintaining the right to contract the consolidated government to provide services for them. In December 2005, the city council of Baldwin, located in the far western portion of Duval County, voted to eliminate the Baldwin Police Department; accordingly, in March 2006, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office assumed policing responsibilities for the one-square mile town.



Jacksonville uses the Mayor-Council form of city government, also called the Strong-Mayor form, in which a mayor serves as the city's Chief Executive and Administrative officer. The mayor holds veto power over all resolutions and ordinances made by the city council, and also has the power to hire and fire the head of various city departments. The current mayor is John Peyton.

Law enforcement

Jacksonville and Duval County historically maintained separate police agencies: the Jacksonville Police Department and Duval County Sheriff's Office. As part of consolidation in 1968, the two merged, creating the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO). The JSO is headed by the elected Sheriff of Duval County, currently John Rutherford, and is responsible for law enforcement and corrections in the county.


In 2006, based on the United States Department of Justice, FBI-Uniform Crime Reports, Jacksonville reported 6,663 violent crimes including 110 murders. Violent Crime in Jacksonville was up 9.5% since 2005 but property crimes were down. There has been an increase in Gang activity over the past few years, but it is not a significant problem—yet. The murder rate is the most troubling, and the majority of homicides involve drug-related crime.

Based on the Morgan Quitno Press 2006 national crime rankings, Jacksonville ranked as the 10th safest in the nation among the 32 US cities with a population of 500,000 or more.

As of Nov 19, 2007, Jacksonville ranked the 11th most dangerous city in Florida, safer than Orlando (1st), Miami (3rd), Tampa (6th), Tallahassee (7th) and Gainesville (8th). Nationwide, Jacksonville was ranked as the 115th most dangerous city; Detroit was 1st.

Constitutional Officers
Office Name
Mayor John Peyton - Republican
Sheriff John Rutherford - Republican
Property Appraiser James N. Overton - Republican
Tax Collector Mike Hogan - Republican
Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland - Republican
Clerk of the Circuit and
County Courts
Jim Fuller - Republican
State Attorney Harry Shorstein - Democrat
Public Defender Bill White - Democrat

Firefighting and Rescue

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) is responsible for all fire protection and rescue service (ambulance) in Duval County with exceptions. Jacksonville Beach has its own department, while Atlantic Beach provides a fire station facility that is staffed and equipped by JFRD. Baldwin has a (mostly) volunteer fire department and Neptune Beach relies on Atlantic Beach for fire protection. The current JFRD Fire Chief is Richard A. Barrett; the current administrative Director is Dan Kleman. Both positions are appointed by the Mayor.

Autonomous agencies

Some government services remained - as they had been prior to consolidation – independent of both city and county authority. In accordance with Florida law, the school board continues to exist with nearly complete autonomy. Jacksonville also has several quasi-independent government agencies which only nominally answer to the consolidated authority, including electric authority, port authority, transportation authority, housing authority and airport authority. The main environmental and agricultural body is the Duval County Soil and Water Conservation District, which works closely with other area and state agencies.


City Council

The city council has nineteen members, fourteen of whom are elected from single-member districts, and five who are ostensibly elected at-large. However, although these five additional council members are elected at-large, they are required to meet an unusual residency requirement. In the early 1990s, because these five "at-large" members were generally all elected from the same area, voters approved a change in the city government which divided the city up into five districts unrelated to any other districts, solely for the purpose of electing these at-large council members. Thus, at-large council members are elected from each of these five districts by the voters of the county as a whole.

Regional Representatives

Jacksonville is currently represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Ander Crenshaw (R) and Corrine Brown (D) and in the U.S. Senate by Bill Nelson (D) and Mel Martinez (R), in the state senate by Jim King (R), Stephen R. Wise (R), Tony Hill (D), and in the state house by Aaron P. Bean (R), Jennifer Carroll (R), Terry L. Fields (D), Audrey Gibson (D), Stan Jordan (R), Dick Kravitz (R), Charles McBurney(R) and Don Davis (R) (deceased).

As of April 2008, Jacksonville, as well as the rest of the State of Florida, are served by Governor Charlie Crist (R), who replaced term-limited Governor Jeb Bush (R).


Federal Court

Jacksonville is in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. There are 15 authorized judgeships in the district who are appointed by the POTUS and confirmed by the Senate. Additionally, there are 7 judges with Senior status who are eligible to hear cases. Chief Judge of the District is Patricia C. Fawsett.

A new Federal Courthouse in Jacksonville was completed in late 2002 and opened in 2003 to replace the old facility, built in 1933. On February 8th, 2005, the 492,000 ft² building at 300 North Hogan Street was named, the John Milton Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse.

State Court

Jacksonville is in the 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida, which includes Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over felonies, tax issues, real property, juvenile issues, probate, family law (dissolution of marriage, paternity and adoption) and determination of competence. There are 29 elected circuit judges for Duval county: (8) Civil, (1) Probate, (7) Family, (8) Criminal and (4) Juvenile. Donald Moran is Chief Judge.

The State Attorney's Office has the responsibility for prosecuting persons charged with crimes. The position of State Attorney is an elected position and is currently held by Harry Shorstein.

The Public Defender's Office has the responsibility for defending persons charged with crimes subject to incarceration and judged indigent. The position of Public Defender is an elected position and is currently held by Bill White.

The existing courthouse was constructed in 1958 and the county's population grew by more than 50% in the past forty years. A new $190M Duval County Courthouse was a key component of the Better Jacksonville Plan, approved by voters in 2000. After eight years and several mis-steps, the (now) $350M complex should be completed in 2011.

County Court

County Courts primarily handle civil cases where the amount in controversy is less than $15,000, Small claims court, misdemeanors, violations of civil & municipal ordinances and traffic tickets. There are 17 elected county judges for Duval county.


Jacksonville, like most of North & Central Florida and the panhandle, was historically populated by Democrats, who still outnumber Republicans. In the last half of the twentieth century, large numbers of Northern Republicans retired and moved to coastal communities in South Florida. For the most part, they were not politically active. Until John Delaney was elected in 1995, the last Republican mayor in Jacksonville was elected in 1887. Until Bob Martinez was elected in 1986, the last Republican governor in Florida was elected in 1874 (Republican Claude Kirk, formerly a Democrat, was elected in 1966 when the liberals in South Florida refused to nominate incumbent Governor Haydon Burns as the Democratic candidate and split the party. Kirk was defeated for re-election and Democrats were subsequently elected for the next 20 years.) In the years after Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1981, thousands of voters switched to the Republican Party. Additionally, thousands of Republicans moved to Florida and Jacksonville from northern states or relocated from south Florida to avoid overcrowding, high prices and crime. Republican Party organizers saw Florida as a tremendous opportunity in the early 1990’s. While the Democrats were complacent, the Republicans energized their members, increased fundraising efforts and motivated fellow Republicans to get out and vote. Three of Florida’s last four governors were Republicans. The last three mayors of Jacksonville have been Republican (Ed Austin was elected as a Democrat, but changed parties in mid-term).


Higher education

Jacksonville is home to Jacksonville University, the University of North Florida, Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Edward Waters College, DeVry University The Jacksonville Center, The Art Institute of Jacksonville, Florida Coastal School of Law, Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies, Trinity Baptist College, Jones College (Jacksonville), Florida Technical College, Logos Christian College, Brewer Christian College, Columbia College, Strayer University Baymeadows Campus, Nova Southeastern University, and the University of Phoenix. Former mayor John Delaney has been president of the University of North Florida since leaving office in July 2003, parlaying his widespread popularity in the city into a position of leadership in the state university system.

Primary & secondary education

Public Schools in Duval County are controlled by the Duval County School Board. The county is home to four of the nation's best high schools (Stanton College Preparatory School 5th, Paxon School for Advanced Studies 8th, Mandarin High School 151st, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts 158th,) according to Newsweek Magazine in 2008.

Jacksonville, along with the standard district schools, is home to three International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme ("IB") high schools. They are Stanton, Paxon, and Jean Ribault High School. Jacksonville also has a notable magnet high school devoted to the performing and expressive arts, Douglas Anderson. The Advanced International Certificate of Education Program (AICE) is available at Mandarin High School and William M. Raines High School.

The prestigious Bolles School , Episcopal High School and Trinity Christian Academy are located in Jacksonville as are two Catholic secondary schools: Bishop Kenny High School and Bishop Snyder High School. There are a number of private Christian schools including University Christian and other Christian schools.

. See also: List of high schools in Jacksonville


The Jacksonville Public Library had its beginnings when May Moore and Florence Murphy started the "Jacksonville Library and Literary Association" in 1878. The Association was populated by various prominent Jacksonville residents and sought to create a free public library and reading room for the city.

Over the course of 127 years, the system has grown from that one room library to become one of the largest in the state. Now featuring twenty branches - from the . West Regional Library (located on Chaffee Road in the western part of the city) to smaller neighborhood libraries like Westbrook and Eastside (located in the central part of the city) - the Library annually receives nearly 4 million visitors and circulates over 6 million items. Nearly 500,000 library cards are held by area residents.

On November 12, 2005, the new Main Library opened to the public, replacing the Haydon Burns Library, built in 1965. The largest public library in the state, this opening was a historic event for the library system and the City of Jacksonville. It marks the completion of an unprecedented period of growth for the system under the Better Jacksonville Plan. It adds to the city's architectural and cultural landscape and provides a gathering place downtown for the entire community. The new Main Library offers specialized reading rooms, public access to hundreds of computers and extensive collection of books and other materials, public displays of art, and special collections ranging from the African-American Collection to the recently opened Holocaust Collection.


Business Climate

Jacksonville's location on the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean proved providential in the growth of the city and its industry. The largest city in the state, it is also the largest deepwater port in the south (as well as the second-largest port on the U.S. East coast) and a leading port in the U.S. for automobile imports, as well as the leading transportation and distribution hub in the state. However, the strength of the city's economy lies in its broad diversification. While the area once had many thriving dairies such as Gustafson's Farm and Skinner Dairy, this aspect of the economy has declined over time. The area's economy is balanced among distribution, financial services, biomedical technology, consumer goods, information services, manufacturing, insurance and other industries.

Jacksonville is a rail, air, and highway focal point and a busy port of entry, with Jacksonville International Airport, ship repair yards and extensive freight-handling facilities. Lumber, phosphate, paper, cigars and wood pulp are the principal exports; automobiles and coffee are among imports. The city also has a large and diverse manufacturing base. According to Forbes in 2007, Jacksonville, Florida ranked 3rd in the top ten U.S. cities to relocate to find a job. Jacksonville was also the 10th fastest growing city in the U.S.

Cecil Commerce Center is located on the site of the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field which closed in 1999 following the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decision. Covering a total area of 22,939 acres (92.8 km²), it was the largest military base in the Jacksonville area and is now the most significant, long-term development asset in the City of Jacksonville. The parcel contains more than 3% of the total land area in Duval County (17,000 acres)and is one of the best locations for business in the Southeast. The industrial and commercial-zoned center offers mid to large-size parcels for development and boasts excellent transportation and utility infrastructure as well as the third-longest runway in Florida.


Jacksonville is home to many prominent corporations & organizations including three Fortune 500 Companies: CSX Corporation, Fidelity National Financial and Winn-Dixie Supermarkets.


Jacksonville is home to three military facilities, and with Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay nearby gives Jacksonville the third largest military presence in the country. Only Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego, California are bigger. The military is by far the largest employer in Jacksonville and their total economic impact is approximately $6.1 billion annually.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville is a military airport located four miles (6 km) south of the central business district. Approximately 23,000 civilian and active-duty personnel are employed on the base. There are 35 operational units/squadrons assigned there and support facilities include an airfield for pilot training, a maintenance depot capable of virtually any task, from changing a tire to intricate micro-electronics or total engine disassembly. Also on-site is a Naval Hospital, a Fleet Industrial Supply Center, a Navy Family Service Center, and recreational facilities.

Naval Station Mayport is a Navy Ship Base that is the third largest fleet concentration area in the United States. Mayport's operational composition is unique, with a busy harbor capable of accommodating 34 ships and an 8,000-foot (2,400 m) runway capable of handling any aircraft used by the Department of Defense. Until 2007, it was home to the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy, which locals called "Big John".

Blount Island Command is a Marine Corps Logistics Base whose mission is to support the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) which provides for rapid deployment of personnel to link up with prepositioned equipment and supplies embarked aboard forward deployed Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS).

USS Jacksonville, a nuclear powered Los Angeles-class submarine, is the only US Navy ship named for the city. The ship's nickname is The Bold One and Norfolk, Virginia is her home port.

The Florida Air National Guard is based at Jacksonville International Airport.


The Port of Jacksonville is a large component of the local economy. Approximately 50,000 jobs in Northeast Florida are related to port activity and a total of $2.7 billion in economic impact in Northeast Florida:

  • port wages & salaries = $1.3 billion
  • in business revenue = $743 million
  • in local purchases = $239.1 million
  • state & local taxes = $119.3 million
  • customs revenue = $258 million


Health systems

Healthcare in Jacksonville is dominated by Baptist Health and Shands HealthCare for local residents, but the Nemours Children’s Clinic and Mayo Clinic Hospital facilities each draw patients regionally. There are literally hundreds of individual practitioners and Professional Associations (PA) in the Jacksonville area.


The Jacksonville Housing Authority (JHA) is the quasi-independent agency responsible for public housing and subsidized housing in Jacksonville. The Mayor and City Council of Jacksonville established the JHA in 1994 to create an effective, community service oriented, public housing agency with innovative ideas and a different attitude. The primary goal was to provide safe, clean, affordable housing for eligible low and moderate income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. The secondary goal was to provide effective social services, work with residents to improve their quality of life, encourage employment and self-sufficiency, and help residents move out of assisted housing. To that end, JHA works with HabiJax to help low and moderate income families to escape the public housing cycle and become successful, productive, homeowners and taxpayers.

Non-profit/Service organizations is a resource available to Jacksonville-area parents, grandparents and educators to find current and upcoming events, classes, camps, sports and other programs for cultural and educational enrichment for children.


Basic utilities in Jacksonville (water, sewer, electric) are provided by the JEA (formerly Jacksonville Electric Authority). According to Article 21 of the Jacksonville City Charter, "JEA is authorized to own, manage and operate a utilities system within and outside the City of Jacksonville. JEA is created for the express purpose of acquiring, constructing, operating, financing and otherwise have plenary authority with respect to electric, water, sewer, natural gas and such other utility systems as may be under its control now or in the future."

  • People's Gas is Jacksonville's natural gas provider.
  • Comcast is Jacksonvilles local cable provider.
  • AT&T (formerly BellSouth) is Jacksonville's local phone provider.

The city has a successful recycling program with separate pickups for garbage, yard waste and recycling. Collection is provided by several private companies under contract to the City of Jacksonville.



Interstate Highways 10 and 95 intersect in Jacksonville. Interstate Highway 10 ends at this intersection (the other end being in Santa Monica, California). The eastern terminus of US-90 is in nearby Jacksonville Beach near the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, several other roads as well a major local expressway, J. Turner Butler Boulevard (SR 202) also connect Jacksonville to the beaches. Interstate 95 has a bypass route, with I-295, which bypasses the city to the west, and SR-9A, bypassing the city to the east. When the major interchange at 9A and SR 202 (Butler Blvd) is completed in October 2008, 9A will become I-295 and the interstate will circumscribe the most populated portion of Jacksonville.

Mass transit

Public transportation provided by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) includes regular and express bus service, downtown trolleys, JTA Connexion (paratransit) and the stadium shuttle. The city has the JTA Skyway, an elevated monorail, which travels through the central business district. However, there are few Skyway stations and as such, traffic is light. The Skyway has been criticized in that it goes from "nowhere to nowhere" along its limited route, which encompasses only downtown and is of no help in commuting from suburban neighborhoods or to the Jacksonville Sports complex.


Jacksonville is also home to the world headquarters of CSX Transportation, which owns a large building on the riverbank downtown that is a significant part of the skyline. The Amtrak passenger railroad serves Jacksonville from a station on Clifford Lane in the northwest section of the city.


Airports in Jacksonville are managed by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA). The commercial passenger facility is Jacksonville International Airport on the Northside. Smaller planes can fly to Craig Municipal Airport in Arlington and Herlong Airport on the Westside. The JAA also operates Cecil Field, the former NAS airfield at Cecil Commerce Center that is intended for the aerospace and manufacturing companies located there.


Public seaports in Jacksonville are managed by the Jacksonville Port Authority, known as JAXPORT. Four modern deepwater (38 ft) seaport facilities, including America's newest cruise port, make Jacksonville a full-service international seaport. In FY2006, JAXPORT handled 8.7 million tons of cargo, including nearly 610,000 vehicles, which ranks Jacksonville 2nd in the nation in automobile handling, behind only the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The 20 other maritime facilities not managed by the Port Authority move about 10 million tons of additional cargo in and out of the St. Johns River. In terms of total tonnage, the Port of Jacksonville ranks 40th nationally; within Florida, it is 3rd behind Tampa and Port Everglades.

In 2003, the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal opened, providing cruise service to Key West, Florida, the Bahamas, and Mexico via Carnival Cruise Lines ship, Celebration. In FY2006 there were 78 cruise ship sailings with 128,745 passengers. The Mayport Ferry became JAXPORTs responsibility on October 1, 2007.


There are seven bridges over the St. Johns River at Jacksonville. They include (starting from furthest downstream) the Dames Point Bridge, the Mathews Bridge, the Isaiah D. Hart Bridge, the Main Street Bridge, the Acosta Bridge, the Fuller Warren Bridge (which carries I-95 traffic) and the Buckman Bridge.

Beginning in 1953, tolls were charged on the Hart, Mathews, Fuller Warren and the Main Street bridges to pay for bridge construction, renovations and many other highway projects. As Jacksonville grew, toll plazas created bottlenecks and caused delays and accidents during rush hours. In 1988, Jacksonville voters chose to eliminate toll collection and replace the revenue with a ½ cent local sales tax increase. In 1989, the toll booths were removed.

The Mayport Ferry connects the north and south ends of State Road A1A between Mayport and Fort George Island, and is the last active ferry in Florida.

Sister cities

Jacksonville has six sister cities. They are:

In 2000, The Sister Cities International awarded Jacksonville the Innovation Arts & Culture Award for the city's program with Nantes.

See also


Further reading

  • James B. Cooks, Jacksonville: The Consolidation Story, from Civil Rights to the Jaguars, University Press of Florida, 2004.
  • Greg Jenkins, Florida's Ghostly Legends And Haunted Folklore: North Florida And St. Augustine, Pineapple Press, 2005.
  • Buddy Martin, The Boys from Old Florida: Inside Gator Nation, Sports Publishing, 2006
  • Herman Mason, Jr., African-American Life in Jacksonville, Arcadia Publishing, 1997.
  • Joanelle Mulrain, Re-Rooting Life's Journeys
  • Keeping the Faith: Race, Politics, and Social Development in Jacksonville, Florida, 1940-1970, Greenwood Publishing, 2000.
  • John Oehser, Jags to Riches: The Cinderella Season of the Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Martins Press, 1997.
  • Daniel Schaefer, From scratch pads and dreams: A ten year history of the University of North Florida, University of North Florida, 1982.
  • Jules Wagman, Jacksonville and Florida's First Coast, Windsor Publishing, 1989.
  • Dr. Caroyln Williams, Historic Photos of Jacksonville, Turner Publishing Company, 2006.
  • 40 years ago this weekend, Jacksonville gave itself a national reputation for violence The Florida Times-Union.
  • Foley, Bill; Wood, Wayne (2001). The great fire of 1901 (1st ed.). Jacksonville, Florida: The Jacksonville Historical Society. ISBN 0-9710261-0-6

External links

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