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10 Turning Points in Jacksonville History


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Super Bowl is another turning point

Sunday's Super Bowl marks a turning point in Jacksonville.

As the host of Super Bowl XXXIX, Jacksonville gains worldwide exposure, at least 100,000 visitors and a reputation among people who hadn't a clue about the city.

I've come up with 10 turning points that I believe redirected Jacksonville since 1900. If you have more, send them to me by e-mail.

Here's my take:

The Great Fire of 1901. Talk about downtown redevelopment. That May 3, 1901, fire consumed much of downtown and resulted in massive rebuilding. It's impossible to say how the city would have grown had the sparks not spread, destroying almost 2,400 buildings between lunchtime and 8:30 p.m. that day.

Acosta Bridge in 1921. The bridge connected Northside to Southside across the St. Johns River, and six more bridges were developed through 1989, spurring growth.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville in 1940. Commissioned on Oct. 15, 1940, the station launched the city's Navy complex that would include Cecil Field and Mayport. Cecil Field NAS was closed in 1999, underscoring the city's efforts to keep the remaining military operations open and providing experience in the base closure process. Cecil was transformed into an aviation and commerce center.

Regency Square in 1967. The opening of the regional Regency Square mall confirmed that suburban development toward the Beaches was in force. Most of the major downtown department retailers opened stores in the Arlington mall, and subsequent centers, and eventually closed downtown.

City-county consolidation in 1968. Voters approved the combination of the city and county governments, effective Oct. 1, 1968, ridding Jacksonville of some political corruption ("Throw the rascals out!") and expanding the city's boundaries to 841 square miles. It also changed the dynamics of some city neighborhoods.

Mayo Clinic Jacksonville in 1986. When the famed Mayo Clinic opened a Jacksonville medical center, it bolstered the city's already significant health-care development and attracted international guests and exposure.

Jacksonville Jaguars in 1993. The franchise was announced on Nov. 30, 1993, creating a broader base of people around the world who asked, Jacksonville, where? The1995 inaugural season brought the Jaguars and Jacksonville into the homes of viewers across the country.

Jacksonville Economic Development Commission in 1996. The commission combined the city's fragmented economic development agencies under one governmental roof.

Cruise ships in 2003. Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines both announced plans to start regular cruise service from Jacksonville.

Super Bowl on Feb. 6, 2005. You're living it.

Future turning points include the March opening of the 1.1 million-square-foot St. Johns Town Center retail center in Southside, which will introduce new retailers to town and possibly lure the first Nordstrom, Macy's or Saks Fifth Avenue; the 2006 opening of River City Marketplace, the first mega-center in North Jacksonville; and the decision regarding decommissioning the USS Kennedy, aircraft carrier at Mayport.

And there's another -- the potential for a second Super Bowl, maybe within the decade. Depends on how big a point Jacksonville makes this time.

karen.mathisjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4305

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I think something missing from that list would have to be the development of limited access highways throughout town. (Primarily I-95, but also the Matthews/Arlignton expressway, and the Northside expressways.)

Compare the photographs of downtown in 1950, right before they were built, to 1965 after most were completed. The contrast is so stark, it's almost vomit-inducing. I know that the viability and vibrancy of downtown has been a continuous series of falls and rebirths (for at least 100 years at this point). However, I think the 1950-1965 period saw the majority of the decline that we are still trying to recover from.

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how about when they changed the name of this city from Cowford to Jacksonville? I'd say that was a turning point :thumbsup:

Oh, & getting rid of the smell from the paper mill downtown...not that I ever experienced it myself & I've been here since '91. The place has always smelt great to me.

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I'd say one of the top turning points in Jax's history was the Haydon Burns Administration. During his term as mayor, the city swiftly begin to change from a dense walkable one, to a sprawling one littered with surface parking lots, which at the time, was considered an enhancement. This administration was soley responsible for re-inventing the Northbank waterfront, one with wharfs & old brick warehouses (which would have made killer waterfront lofts) into a massive mile long, block wide, surface parking lot.

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