history of jacksonville

Fast Facts

How well do you know Jax?

From history and geography to famous residents and just plain old trivia, how well do you really know Jacksonville? 

  • Jacksonville is the largest city in the continental United States with over 840 square miles.
  • Duval Street, like the county was named for William Pope Duval, the first Territorial Governor of Florida.
  • When the Prudential Building, now known as the Aetna Building, opened in 1955, it was the tallest office building in the South at 22 stories.
  • The Dames Point Bridge opened in 1989 at a cost of $117 million dollars.
  • As of 2007, the median age in Northeast Florida is 36 years old - younger than all major cities in Florida.
  • Jacksonville was named for General Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of Florida who, incidentally, never visited Jacksonville.
  • The fire of 1901, sparked from a chimney and igniting a fiber factory, destroyed the heart of the city - 466 acres and 2,368 buildings were destroyed, 8,677 residents were left homeless and seven people died. The damage was $15 million - $2 billion today.
  • In the early 1900s the Ostrich Farm, located on what is today's Southbank of Downtown, was the city's biggest tourist draw.
  • In 1916, over 30 movie companies called Jacksonville home with stars such as Oliver Hardy and Fatty Arbuckle making movies in town. Citizens became fed up with the noise and the industry moved to California.
  • In 1935, A.L. Lewis opened American Beach, a retreat for African Americans who were refused entry to public beaches.
  • The PGA Tour moved its headquarters to Ponte Vedra in 1979.
  • The Mayo Clinic opened the doors to its Jacksonville campus in 1986.
  • The National Football league awarded its 30th franchise team to Jacksonville in 1993.
  • In 2000, Jacksonville was selected as the site for Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.
  • Jacksonville native Bob Hayes is the only man to win an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.
  • The Dames Point Bridge is the second longest concrete cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Isiah Hart, who founded Jacksonville, named two of the city's first streets after his daughters, Julia and Laura.
  • The World Golf Hall of Fame opened in 1998.
  • Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, with 16,000 seats opened in 2003.
  • The Confederate statue in Hemming Plaza survived the Great Fire of 1901.
  • Planted in 1822, the Treaty Oak, located on the Southbank of Downtown has a circumference of 25 feet and reaches more than 70 feet into the sky.
  • When Friendship Fountain opened in 1965, it was billed as the world's largest and tallest fountain.
  • TOUCHDOWN, the jaguar statue outside of EverBank Field is 16 feet long and weighs in at 2,850 pounds.
  • The Florida Theatre was home to one of Elvis Presley's first indoor concerts in 1956. A local judge sat through the performance to ensure Presley's body movements would not become too suggestive.
  • Elvis Presley performed in Jacksonville eight times during his career, beginning in 1955 when he performed at Wolfson Park and ending in 1977, a few months before his death, at the old Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
  • The Florida Theatre opened in 1927 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Built in 1997, Jacoby Symphony Hall is the only true orchestra hall in Florida and is home to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.
  • An Ahrens Fox steam pumper used in the Great Fire of 1901 can be found on display at the Jacksonville Fire Museum in Metropolitan Park.
  • The Jacksonville Navy Memorial, on Downtown's Southbank Riverwalk, commemorates the relationship between the people of Jacksonville and the U.S. Navy. The statue is of a young sailor looking out to sea, dressed in uniform with his duffel bag at his feet.
  • The first River Run, an annual 15-kilometer race, took place on April 1, 1978. Today, the race boasts over 13,000 runners each year.
  • Hemming Plaza is named for Charles C. Hemming, a Civil War veteran and Jacksonville native.
  • Famed architect, Henry John Klutho was commissioned to design the St. James Building in 1912 serving as a department store. Jacksonville's City Hall now calls this building its home.
  • In 1840, Jacksonville's population was a whopping 350 residents.
  • When the Regency Square Mall opened in 1967, it was billed as the largest air-conditioned shopping center in the South.
  • The 1930 city directory listed approximately 15 miniature golf courses, including the Woman's Golf Club of South Jacksonville Miniature Golf Course at the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard.
  • In 1901, Jacksonville hosted the first-ever college football game played in Florida, with a crowd of 2,000 watching Florida Agricultural College take on Stetson University.
  • In its mid-20th century heyday, the LaVilla neighborhood, home to the Ritz Theatre and LaVilla Museum, was known as the "Harlem of the South."
  • The Mayport Ferry is Florida's only public auto ferry and connects Jacksonville's beaches to the Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island areas.
  • The St. Johns River is one of two rivers in North America that flows north instead of south.
  • The eclectic Five Points area, with unique shops and dining experiences, is named for its landmark five-way intersection.
  • The University of North Florida is home to more than 500 acres of protected forest and wildlife with hiking trails, fishing and canoeing open to the public.
  • Local chocolate shop, Peterbrooke Chocolatier, was named after the owners two children - Peter and Brooke.
  • Pete's, the oldest bar in Duval County, was featured in the John Grisham novel The Brethren.
  • Since 1977, the Sally Corporation, has created animatronics figures and theme rides for adventure and amusement parks worldwide. Past clients include - Universal Studios, Disney on Ice and Six Flags Belgium.
  • There are 219 steps to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
  • Jacksonville is home to the country's largest urban park system with 111,669 acres of parks.
  • The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Jacksonville national park, covers 46,000 acres.
  • Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park offers more than 20 miles of mountain biking trails marked for beginning, intermediate and expert riders.
  • The 60-acre freshwater lake in Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park is perfect for fishing, bird watching, kayaking, paddle boating and canoeing.
  • Huguenot Park boasts more than 70 primitive campsites, with many facing the ocean or inlet providing spectacular sunrise and waterfront views.
  • The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, founded in 1914, began its animal collection with one red deer fawn. Today, the zoo is home to more than 1,400 animals and over 1,000 unique plant species.
  • The oldest, continuously operating community theater in the country is Theatre Jacksonville, in operation since 1919.
  • The military employs over 30,000 active-duty personnel and nearly 20,000 civilians in the Jacksonville area.
  • Jacksonville was named one of the top five "Up and Coming" cities in America by Good Morning America in 2006.
  • Fort Caroline is a near full-scale rendering created to memorialize the 16th century French effort to establish a permanent colony in Florida.

The Visit Jacksonville Blog

  • Sarah
  • Kacie Couch
  • Void Magazine
  • Sip & Savor Jax Blog
  • Denise M. Reagan
Blogs by Sarah
Blogs by Kacie Couch
  • Think pink!

    July 30, 2014 5:02 pm EDT

    When you think of a pink bird, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For most people, it would be a flamingo. The flamingo is a very beautiful (and very pink) bird, but it is not a local species to say the least. Lucky for us, we have our own species of pink bird wading in our North Florida waters!

  • Fort Clinch Offers ‘Step into the Past,’ Great Eco-Adventure

    May 29, 2014 4:56 pm EDT

    “What a strange looking bird!” exclaimed the bearded man as we looked up at the helicopter flying overhead. It was a beautiful day in July and we were standing outside. I was wearing a sundress that came down to my knees and he was decked out in a woolen long-sleeved uniform. In JULY… In Florida. This was right after he called me a “jezebel,” no less.

Blogs by Void Magazine
  • fresh produce florida

    Growing Jax – A Guide to Our Regional Farmers Markets

    September 12, 2014 3:08 pm EDT

    Jacksonville boasts plenty of delicious farmers markets. So get out there and support your local farms with this guide to regional markets.

  • gameday food

    Eat Like A Local on Gameday in Jacksonville

    September 12, 2014 2:49 pm EDT

    Over the past two years, Shad Khan and the leadership of the Jacksonville Jaguars have made extensive efforts to transform the team from relative obscurity (for those outside Duval) into one of the most visible franchises in the league.

  • Coffee Shop Review – Bold Bean Coffee Roasters

    July 10, 2014 4:55 pm EDT

    Out with the old, in with the bold! Bold Bean Coffee Roasters has just opened its second location in South Jacksonville Beach, ironically where the old Starbucks was located. Bold Bean specializes in handmade, single-origin coffee, espresso beverages, craft beer and a community-orientated atmosphere.

  • Top Ten Romantic Restaurants in Jacksonville

    June 10, 2014 5:31 pm EDT

    What makes a restaurant romantic? If you’re not sure, you probably ought to ask someone female. When I asked my husband for his suggestions for this article, he said, “Is Guzzle Pipes and Gutty Works open yet?” Having an excellent beer list is not usually high on the list of most women’s romance requirements.

  • Locally Brewed Beers Perfect for The Summer

    June 02, 2014 12:02 pm EDT

    We all love a nice summer night with friends and a cool beer in our hand. This list will be your locally-brewed beer guide for the summer, no matter the occasion.

Blogs by Sip & Savor Jax Blog
  • Enjoy some of Jacksonville's best tacos! Pictured: The Flyin' Hawaiian and Scallop Special.

    No Sitter Required: Jacksonville’s Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants

    September 22, 2015 12:37 pm EDT

    Sometimes finding a place where the kids can eat can cause parents nightmares. You find a spot with a kids menu, but the adult choices are not so hot. Or you see a fabulous menu in a spot that’s just a bit too hoity-toity to accommodate your grilled cheese needs. Fortunately Jacksonville is full of great spots to make the whole family happy.

  • If you are an IPA lover or enjoy a good Stout don't miss Pinglehead Brewing Company inside of Brewer's Pizza.

    Drink Like a Grown Up: A craft beer + food pairing guide

    September 21, 2015 12:13 pm EDT

    In recent years, craft beer has exploded in popularity, and more and more great restaurants are adding craft beer to their drink selections.

  • Sip & Savor: A guide to wine bars, brewpubs and restaurants with great cocktails

    September 17, 2015 12:04 pm EDT

    Dinner and drinks, a combination that goes together like… well, red wine and red meat. Whether you like to cozy up to your favorite Cabernet, sip on a classic Manhattan or partake in a fine Belgian Tripel, Jacksonville is full of restaurants that pair delicious food menus with top-notch wine, beer or cocktail lists.

  • Sitting right on the St. Johns River, in full view of the Jacksonville skyline, is the River City Brewing Company.

    A Feast For Your Eyes: Restaurants with the best views in Jacksonville

    September 17, 2015 11:32 am EDT

    They say great dining experiences engage more than just your sense of taste. The way the scent of cookies baking will make your dessert that much more delightful, or how just the sizzling of bacon will make your mouth water.

  • Jacksonville is Bursting with Flavor

    August 14, 2015 12:49 pm EDT

    From down home fish camps by the sea to trendy gastropubs in hip neighborhoods, you’re sure to find a delightful meal in any corner of the city.

Blogs by Denise M. Reagan

Jacksonville Social