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One nickname you could attach to Jacksonville is the “City of Bridges.”
The St. Johns River and San Pablo River (aka Intracoastal Waterway) carve through the city so there are many crossing points. From just one room of the Bank of America tower, you can see 9 bridges. Looking from North to South, this is the list of 9 bridges with an interesting fact about each bridge from that one room.
Officially the Napolean Bonaparte Broward (1857-1910) Bridge, named after the local river pilot who went on to become Governor of Florida. Broward was known for his project to expand agriculture and drain the Everglades. It is one of the largest cable-stayed bridges built in the U.S. having 21 miles of cable. The bridge is just over 2 miles long.
The bridge is named after John E. Mathews, a Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. When the bridge was opened in 1953, the Arlington area grew tremendously at the expense of Downtown. The bridge was painted maroon in 1984 after the city was awarded a U.S. Football League franchise called the Jacksonville Bulls. The Bulls had colors of maroon (FSU Seminoles), orange (FL Gators), and silver (GA Bulldogs) all borrowed from area college football teams.
Our green bridge was opened in 1967 and is named after the city founder, Isaiah Hart. When Isaiah Hart came to the area, he traded $72 worth of cattle for 18 acres of land. He laid out the streets in a grid format and called his new city Jacksonville. His house was on the SW corner of Market and Bay Streets. The annual Gate River Run, the largest 15K race in the county, concludes as runners cross the Hart Bridge to enter the stadium area.
The official name is the John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge, however, everyone calls it by street name or just simply the “blue bridge”. Alsop was a mayor of Jacksonville for eighteen years, the longest duration in the city’s history. Opened in 1941, the bridge is a popular Downtown landmark appearing in many skyline photos. It is the only “lift bridge” or movable bridge in which a span rises vertically while remaining parallel with the deck on our list.
More simply called the Acosta Bridge named after the City Councilman instrumental in funding the original span known as the St. Johns River Bridge (1921). After Acosta died, the St. Johns River Bridge was renamed in his honor. Eventually, the new Acosta Bridge opened in 1994 replacing the older one. Today the Acosta Bridge has 6 lanes for cars, 2 pedestrian walkways, and 2-tracks in the median for the Skyway train. This is my favorite bridge on driving tours because of the magnificent view of Downtown from the crest.
This is the railroad bridge running almost underneath the Acosta Bridge. It is a traditional truss bridge with a drawbridge that remains in the open position, except when a train passes. The Florida East Coast Railway completed the bridge in 1925 replacing the old railroad bridge that dated back to the late 1800’s when Henry Flagler was taking Northerners to his resort hotels.
This span carries 8 lanes of I95 traffic and was fully opened in 2002. A former Florida governor, Fuller Warren, is the bridge’s namesake. This bridge provides the shade every Saturday for the Riverside Arts Market (RAM). A local driving tidbit; when the Downtown exit (Main Street Bridge and Acosta Bridge) is backed up and you are going to the Northbank, take the Fuller Warren Bridge to the Park Street exit and do the short drive to Downtown.
Technically, this is the only bridge on our list that spans over a different river than the St. Johns River. The Ortega River is a tributary of the St. Johns. The bridge was built in 1927 and is also a drawbridge giving right of way to the local marinas and the yacht clubs. The bridge adds to the ambiance of the Ortega neighborhood area which is one of the more affluent areas of Jacksonville with many historic homes and buildings. This is the shortest bridge in our list at 1,143 feet.
The bridge is named after Henry Holland Buckman (1858-1914) who was influential in establishing a state road system in Florida. The bridge was opened in 1970 and is the longest in our list at a length just over 3 miles. You can barely see the bridge in the distance past the Naval Air Station from the Bank of America tower room.
Consider this a partial list in our “City of Bridges”. Some cities may have more bridges than Jacksonville, however, our bridges define our River City culture.
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