Jacksonville is centered on the banks of the St. Johns River in the First Coast region of northeast Florida, about 25 miles south of the Georgia state line and 340 miles north of Miami. The Jacksonville Beaches communities are along the adjacent Atlantic coast. The area was originally inhabited by the Timucua people, and in 1564 was the site of the French colony of Fort Caroline, one of the earliest European settlements in what is now the continental United States. Under British rule, settlement grew at the narrow point in the river where cattle crossed, known as Wacca Pilatka to the Seminole and the Cow Ford to the British. A platted town was established there in 1822, a year after the United States gained Florida from Spain; it was named after Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of the Florida Territory and seventh President of the United States.
Harbor improvements since the late 19th century have made Jacksonville a major military and civilian deep-water port. Its riverine location facilitates Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the U.S. Marine Corps Blount Island Command, and the Port of Jacksonville, Florida's third largest seaport. Jacksonville's military bases and the nearby Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay form the third largest military presence in the United States. Significant factors in the local economy include services such as banking, insurance, healthcare and logistics. As with much of Florida, tourism is also important to the Jacksonville area, particularly tourism related to golf. People from Jacksonville may be called "Jacksonvillians" or "Jaxsons".
The area of the modern city of Jacksonville has been inhabited for thousands of years. On Black Hammock Island in the national Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, a University of North Florida team discovered some of the oldest remnants of pottery in the United States, dating to 2500 BC. In the 16th century, the beginning of the historical era, the region was inhabited by the Mocama, a coastal subgroup of the Timucua people. At the time of contact with Europeans, all Mocama villages in present-day Jacksonville were part of the powerful chiefdom known as the Saturiwa, centered around the mouth of the St. Johns River. One early map shows a village called Ossachite at the site of what is now downtown Jacksonville; this may be the earliest recorded name for that area.
French Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault charted the St. Johns River in 1562, calling it the River of May because that was the month of his discovery. Ribault erected a stone column at the site, claiming the newly discovered land for France. In 1564, René Goulaine de Laudonnière established the first European settlement, Fort Caroline, on the St. Johns near the main village of the Saturiwa. Philip II of Spain ordered Pedro Menéndez de Avilés to protect the interest of Spain by attacking the French presence at Fort Caroline. On September 20, 1565, a Spanish force from the nearby Spanish settlement of St. Augustine attacked Fort Caroline, and killed nearly all the French soldiers defending it. The Spanish renamed the fort San Mateo, and following the ejection of the French, St. Augustine's position as the most important settlement in Florida was solidified. The location of Fort Caroline is subject to debate but a reconstruction of the fort was established on the St. Johns River in 1964.
Spain ceded Florida to the British in 1763 after the French and Indian War, and the British soon constructed the King's Road connecting St. Augustine to Georgia. The road crossed the St. Johns River at a narrow point, which the Seminole called Wacca Pilatka and the British called the Cow Ford; these names ostensibly reflect the fact that cattle were brought across the river there. The British introduced the cultivation of sugar cane, indigo and fruits, as well the export of lumber. As a result, the northeastern Florida area prospered economically more than it had under the Spanish. Britain ceded control of the territory to Spain in 1783, after being defeated in the American Revolutionary War, and the settlement at the Cow Ford continued to grow. After Spain ceded the Florida Territory to the United States in 1821, American settlers on the north side of the Cow Ford decided to plan a town, laying out the streets and plats. They soon named the town Jacksonville, after Andrew Jackson. Led by Isaiah D. Hart, residents wrote 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 being shipped from Florida to feed the Confederate forces. The city was blockaded by Union forces, who gained control of nearby Fort Clinch. Though no battles were fought in Jacksonville proper, the city changed hands several times between Union and Confederate forces. In the Skirmish of the Brick Church in 1862, Confederates won their first victory in the state. However, Union forces captured a Confederate position at the Battle of St. Johns Bluff, and occupied Jacksonville in 1862. Slaves escaped to freedom in Union lines. In February 1864 Union forces left Jacksonville and confronted a Confederate Army at the Battle of Olustee, going down to defeat.
Union forces retreated to Jacksonville and held the city for the remainder of the war. In March 1864 a Confederate cavalry confronted a Union expedition in the Battle of Cedar Creek. Warfare and the long occupation left the city disrupted 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. President Grover Cleveland attended the Sub-Tropical Exposition in the city on February 22, 1888 during his trip to Florida. This highlighted the visibility of the state as a worthy place for tourism. The city's tourism, however, was dealt major blows in the late 19th century by yellow fever outbreaks. In addition, extension of the Florida East Coast Railway further south drew visitors to other areas. From 1893 to 1938, Jacksonville was the site of the Florida Old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Home; it operated a nearby cemetery.
On May 3, 1901, downtown Jacksonville was ravaged by a fire that started as a kitchen fire. Spanish moss at a nearby mattress factory was quickly engulfed in flames and enabled the fire to spread rapidly. In just eight hours, it swept through 146 city blocks, destroyed over 2,000 buildings, left about 10,000 homeless and killed seven residents. The Confederate Monument in Hemming Park was one of the few landmarks to survive the fire. Governor William Sherman Jennings declared martial law and sent the state militia to maintain order; on May 17, municipal authority resumed. It is said the glow from the flames could be seen in Savannah, Georgia, and the smoke plumes seen in Raleigh, North Carolina. Known as the "Great Fire of 1901", it was one of the worst disasters in Florida history and the largest urban fire in the southeastern United States. Architect Henry John Klutho was a primary figure in the reconstruction of the city. The first multi-story structure built by Klutho was the Dyal-Upchurch Building in 1902. The St. James Building, built on the previous site of the St. James Hotel that burned down, was built in 1912 as Klutho's crowning achievement.
In the 1910s, New York–based filmmakers 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 of "Winter Film Capital of the World". However, 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 became a major employer and economic force during the 1940s and the Second World War, constructing two Navy bases in the city and the U.S. Marine Corps establishing Blount Island Command.
Jacksonville, like most large cities in the United States, suffered from negative effects of rapid urban sprawl after World War II. The construction of federal highways was a kind of subsidy that enabled development of suburban housing, and wealthier, better established residents moved to newer housing in the suburbs. After World War II, the government of the city of Jacksonville began to increase spending to fund new public building projects in the postwar economic boom. 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 middle class "white flight" resulted in a remaining population with a higher level of poverty overall.
Given the postwar migration of residents, businesses, and jobs, the city's tax base declined. It had difficulty 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 larger geographic tax base to improve services throughout the county. Voters outside the city limits rejected annexation plans in six referendums between 1960 and 1965. The city's largest ethnic group, non-Hispanic white, declined from 75.8% of the population in 1970 to 55.1% by 2010.
On December 29, 1963 the Hotel Roosevelt fire killed 22 people, the highest one-day death toll in Jacksonville. On September 10, 1964, Hurricane Dora made landfall near St. Augustine, causing major damage to buildings in North Florida. Hurricane Dora was the first hurricane to make a direct hit to North Florida.
In the mid 1960s, corruption scandals arose among city officials, who were mainly part of a traditional conservative Democratic, white old boy network that had dominated politics for decades. After a grand jury was convened to investigate, 11 officials were indicted and more were forced to resign.
Jacksonville 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 after passage of civil rights legislation restored their ability to vote, and whites in the suburbs, who wanted more services and more control over the central city. In 1964 all 15 of Duval County's public high schools lost their accreditation. This added momentum to 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.
When a consolidation referendum was held in 1967, voters approved the plan. On October 1, 1968, the city and county 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. In honor of the occasion, then-Mayor Hans Tanzler posed with actress Lee Meredith behind a sign marking the new border of the "Bold New City of the South" at Florida 13 and Julington Creek. The consolidation created a 900 square mile entity.
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. This would generate most of the revenue required for the $2.25 billion package of major projects that included road & infrastructure improvements, environmental preservation, targeted economic development and new or improved public facilities.
The NFL awarded Jacksonville an NFL franchise called the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 30, 1993. In 2005, Jacksonville hosted Super Bowl XXXIX that was seen by an estimated 86 million viewers.
In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused major flooding and damage to Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach, the first such damage in the area since 2004. In September 2017, Hurricane Irma caused record breaking floods in Jacksonville not seen since 1846.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 874.3 square miles (2,264 km2), making Jacksonville the largest city in land area in the contiguous United States; of this, 86.66% (757.7 sq mi or 1,962 km2) is land and 13.34% (116.7 sq mi or 302 km2) is water. Jacksonville surrounds the town 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.
The state of Florida, including Jacksonville, is a huge flat plateau with a high water table, and surface lakes are very shallow. The United States Geological Survey states that the highest point in Jacksonville is only 40 feet (12.2 meters) above sea level, making the area susceptible to flooding and storm surge. Soil composition is primarily sand and clay rather than limestone, so very few sinkholes develop; however deep, large diameter sinkholes do occur.
The architecture of Jacksonville varies in style. Few structures in the city center predate the Great Fire of 1901. The city is home to one of the largest collections of Prairie School style buildings outside the Midwest. following the Great Fire of 1901, Henry John Klutho would come to influence generations of local designers with his works by both the Chicago School, championed by Louis Sullivan, and the Prairie School of architecture, popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright. Jacksonville is also home to a notable collection of Mid-Century modern architecture. Local architects Robert C. Broward, Taylor Hardwick, and William Morgan adapted a range design principles, including International style, Brutalism, Futurism and Organicism, all applied with an American interpretation generally referred to today as Mid-century modern design. The architecture firms of Reynolds, Smith & Hills (RS&H) and Kemp, Bunch & Jackson (KBJ) have also contributed a number of important works to the city's modern architectural movement.
Jacksonville's early predominant position as a regional center of business left an indelible mark on the city's skyline. Many of the earliest skyscrapers in the state were constructed in Jacksonville, dating to 1902. The city last held the state height record from 1974 to 1981. The tallest building in Downtown Jacksonville's skyline is the Bank of America Tower, constructed in 1990 as the Barnett Center. It has a height of 617 ft (188 m) and includes 42 floors. Other notable structures include the 37-story Wells Fargo Center (with its distinctive flared base making it 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. When completed in 1967, it was the tallest precast, post-tensioned concrete structure in the world.
Like much of the south Atlantic region of the United States, Jacksonville has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with mild weather during winters and hot and humid weather during summers. Seasonal rainfall is concentrated in the warmest months from May through September, while the driest months are from November through April. Rainfall averages around 52 inches (1,300 mm) a year. Due to Jacksonville's low latitude and coastal location, the city has infrequent cold weather, and winters are typically mild and sunny. Summer thunderstorms with torrential but brief downpours are common.
Mean monthly temperatures range from around 53 °F (12 °C) in January to 82 °F (28 °C) in July. High temperatures average 64 to 92 °F (18 to 33 °C) throughout the year. High heat indices are common for the summer months in the area, with indices above 110 °F (43.3 °C) possible. The highest temperature recorded was 104 °F (40 °C) on July 11, 1879 and July 28, 1872. It is common for thunderstorms to erupt during a typical summer afternoon. These are caused by the rapid heating of the land relative to the water, combined with extremely high humidity.
During winter, there can be hard freezes during the night. Such cold weather is usually short lived, as the city averages only 10 to 15 nights at or below freezing and around 5 days where the high does not rise above 50 °F (10 °C). The coldest temperature recorded at Jacksonville International Airport was 7 °F (−14 °C) on January 21, 1985. Jacksonville has recorded three days with measurable snow since 1911, most recently a one-inch (2.5 cm) snowfall in December 1989 and flurries in December 2010.
Jacksonville has suffered less damage from hurricanes than most other east coast cities, although the threat does exist for a direct hit by a major hurricane. The city has only received one direct hit from a hurricane since 1871; however, Jacksonville has experienced hurricane or near-hurricane conditions more than a dozen times due to storms crossing the state from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, or passing to the north or south in the Atlantic and brushing past 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 110 mph (180 km/h), making it a strong Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Jacksonville also suffered damage from 2008's Tropical Storm Fay which crisscrossed the state, bringing parts of Jacksonville under darkness for four days. Similarly, four years prior to this, Jacksonville was inundated by Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne, which made landfall south of the area. These tropical cyclones were the costliest indirect hits to Jacksonville. Hurricane Floyd in 1999 caused damage mainly to Jacksonville Beach. During Floyd, the Jacksonville Beach pier was severely damaged, and later demolished. The rebuilt pier was later damaged by Fay, but not destroyed. Tropical Storm Bonnie would cause minor damage in 2004, spawning a minor tornado in the process. On May 28, 2012, Jacksonville was hit by Tropical Storm Beryl, packing winds up to 70 miles per hour (113 km/h) which made landfall near Jacksonville Beach.
The City of Jacksonville has a unique park system, with various lands operated by the National Park Service, Florida State Parks and the City of Jacksonville Department of Parks and Recreation. 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 enjoys natural beauty from the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean. Many parks provide access for people to boat, swim, fish, sail, jetski, surf and waterski. Several parks around the city have received international recognition.
The Timucuan Preserve is a U.S. National Preserve comprising over 46,000 acres (19,000 ha) of wetlands and waterways. It includes natural and historic areas such as the Fort Caroline National Memorial and the Kingsley Plantation, the oldest standing plantation in the state.
There are several state parks within the city limits of Jacksonville, these include Amelia Island State Park, Big Talbot Island State Park, Fort George Island Cultural State Park, George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park, Little Talbot Island State Park, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park and Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park.
There are more than 500 neighborhoods within Jacksonville's vast area. These include Downtown Jacksonville and its surrounding neighborhoods, including LaVilla, Brooklyn, Riverside and Avondale, Springfield, Eastside, and San Marco. Additionally, greater Jacksonville is traditionally divided into several amorphous areas, comprising large parts of Duval County. These are Northside, Westside, Southside, and Arlington, as well as the Jacksonville Beaches.
There are four municipalities that have retained their own governments since consolidation; these are Baldwin and the three Jacksonville Beaches towns of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach. Four of Jacksonville's neighborhoods, Avondale, Ortega, Springfield, and Riverside, have been identified as U.S. historic districts and are in the National Register of Historic Places.
Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, and the twelfth most populous city in the United States. As of 2010, there were 821,784 people and 366,273 households in the city. Jacksonville has the country's tenth-largest Arab population, with a total population of 5,751 according to the 2000 United States Census. Jacksonville has Florida's largest Filipino American community, with 25,033 in the metropolitan area as of the 2010 Census. Much of Jacksonville's Filipino community served in or has ties to the United States Navy.
As of 2010, those of Hispanic or Latino ancestry accounted for 7.7% of Jacksonville's population. Out of the 7.7%, 2.6% Puerto Rican, 1.7% Mexican, and 0.9% were Cuban.
As of 2010, those of African ancestry accounted for 30.7% of Jacksonville's population, which includes African Americans. Out of the 30.7%, 1.8% were Sub-Saharan Africa, 1.4% were West Indian or Afro-Caribbean American (0.5% Haitian, 0.4% Jamaican, 0.1% Other or Unspecified West Indian, 0.1% Bahamian, 0.1% Barbadian), and 0.6% were Black Hispanics.
As of 2010, those of (non-Hispanic white) European ancestry accounted for 55.1% of Jacksonville's population. Out of the 55.1%, 10.4% were German, 10.2% Irish, 8.8% English, 3.9% Italian, 2.2% French, 2.0% Scottish, 2.0% Scotch-Irish, 1.7% Polish, 1.1% Dutch, 0.6% Russian, 0.5% Norwegian, 0.5% Swedish, 0.5% Welsh, and 0.5% were French Canadian.
As of 2010, those of Asian ancestry accounted for 4.3% of Jacksonville's population. Out of the 4.3%, 1.8% Filipino, 0.9% were Indian, 0.6% Other Asian, 0.5% Vietnamese, 0.3% Chinese, 0.2% Korean, and 0.1% were Japanese.
In 2010, 6.7% of the population considered themselves to be of only American ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity.) And 0.9% were of Arab ancestry, as of 2010.
As of 2010, there were 366,273 households out of which 11.8% were vacant. 23.9% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.4% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.21. In the city, the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.5 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
In 2010, the median income for a household in the county was $48,829, and the median income for a family was $59,272. Males had a median income of $42,485 versus $34,209 for females. The per capita income for the county was $25,227. About 10.5% of families and 14.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.4% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those aged 65 or over.
In 2010, 9.2% of the county's population was foreign born, with 49.6% being naturalized American citizens. Of foreign born residents, 38.0% were born in Latin America, 35.7% born in Asia, 17.9% were born in Europe, 5.9% born in Africa, 1.9% in North America, and 0.5% were born in Oceania.
As of 2010, 87.1% of Jacksonville's population age five and over spoke only English at home while 5.8% of the population spoke Spanish at home. About 3.3% spoke other Indo-European languages at home. About 2.9% spoke Asian languages or Pacific Islander languages/Oceanic languages at home. The remaining 0.9% of the population spoke other languages at home. In total, 12.9% spoke another language other than English.
As of 2000, speakers of English as a first language accounted for 90.60% of all residents, while those who spoke Spanish made up 4.13%, Tagalog 1.00%, French 0.47%, Arabic 0.44%, German 0.43%, Vietnamese at 0.31%, Russian was 0.21% and Italian made up 0.17% of the population.
Jacksonville has a diverse religious population. The largest religious group is Protestant. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010 the Jacksonville metropolitan area had an estimated 365,267 Evangelical Protestants, 76,100 Mainline Protestants, and 56,769 Black Protestants, though figures for the latter were incomplete. There were around 1200 Protestant congregations in various denominations. Notable Protestant churches include Bethel Baptist Institutional Church and First Baptist Church, the city's oldest Baptist churches. The Episcopal Diocese of Florida has its see at St. John's Cathedral, the current building dating to 1906.
Jacksonville is part of the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine, which covers seventeen counties in North Florida. ARDA estimated 133,155 Catholics attending 25 parishes in the Jacksonville metropolitan area in 2010. One notable Catholic church in Jacksonville is the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a minor basilica added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. There are also two Eastern Catholic parishes, one of the Syriac Catholic Church and one of the Maronite Church. According to ARDA, in 2010 there were 2520 Eastern Orthodox Christians representing four churches in the Eastern Orthodox communion, as well as congregations of Syriac Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Coptic Orthodox Christians.
ARDA also estimated 14,886 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and 511 Unitarian Universalists in 2010. There were an estimated 8,581 Muslims attending seven mosques, the largest being the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida. The Jewish community, which numbered 6,028 in 2010, is largely centered in the neighborhood of Mandarin. There are five Orthodox, two Reform, two Conservative, and one Reconstructionist synagogues. The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute teaches courses for the community.
ARDA also estimated 4,595 Hindus, 3,530 Buddhists and 650 Bahá'ís in the Jacksonville area in 2010.
Jacksonville's location on the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean proved providential in the growth of the city and its industry. Jacksonville has a sizable deepwater port, which helps make it 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 home to many prominent corporations and organizations, including the headquarters of four Fortune 500 companies: CSX Corporation, Fidelity National Financial, Fidelity National Information Services and Southeastern Grocers. Interline Brands is based in Jacksonville and is currently owned by The Home Depot. The Florida East Coast Railway, Swisher International, Inc., and the large short line railroad holding company RailAmerica are also based in Jacksonville.
In 2008, Jacksonville had approximately 2.8 million visitors who stayed overnight, spending nearly $1 billion. Research Data Services of Tampa was commissioned to undertake the study, which quantified the importance of tourism. The total economic impact was $1.6 billion and supported nearly 43,000 jobs, 10% of the local workforce.
Jacksonville has long had a regional legacy in banking and finance. Locally headquartered Atlantic National Bank, Florida National Bank and Barnett Bank dominated the industry in Florida from the turn of the 20th century through the 1980s, before all being acquired in a national wave of mergers and acquisitions throughout the entire financial sector. Acquired by NationsBank in 1997, Barnett Bank was the last of these banks to circum to acquisition, and at the time was the largest banking merger in U.S. history. The city still holds distinction nationally and internationally, boosting two Fortune 500 financial services companies, Fidelity National Financial and FIS, FIS being well recognized as a global leader in financial technology. Headquartered on the banks of the St. Johns River in Downtown Jacksonville, EverBank holds the title of largest bank in the state by deposits. The city is home to other notable financial services institutions including Ameris Bancorp, Atlantic Coast Financial, Black Knight Financial Services, MedMal Direct Insurance Company, US Assure, and VyStar Credit Union. The city is also home to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Jacksonville Branch.
Jacksonville's financial sector has benefited from a rapidly changing business culture, as have other Sunbelt cities like Atlanta, Tampa, and Charlotte. In a concept known as nearshoring, financial intuitions are shifting operations away from high-cost addresses like Wall Street, and have even shifted trading functions to Jacksonville. With relatively low-cost real estate, easy access to New York City, high-quality of life and 19,000 financial sector employees, Jacksonville has become an appealing option for relocating staff. Perhaps the best example of this is the growth of Deutsche Bank's presence in the city. Jacksonville is home to Deutsche Bank's second largest US operation, only New York is larger. Other institutions with a notable presence in Jacksonville include Macquarie Group, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Citizens Property Insurance, Fidelity Investments, Ally Financial and Aetna.
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's manufacturing base provides just 4.5% of local jobs, versus 8.5% nationally. 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.
To emphasize the city's transportation business and capabilities, the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce filed Jacksonville America's Logistics Center as a trademark on November 9, 2007. It was formally registered on August 4, 2009. Cornerstone began promoting the city as "Jacksonville: America's Logistics Center" in 2009. Signs were added to the existing city limit markers on Interstate 95.
The Port of Jacksonville, a seaport on the St. Johns River, is a large component of the local economy. Approximately 50,000 jobs in Northeast Florida are related to port activity and the port has an economic impact of $2.7 billion in Northeast Florida:
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 (92.83 km2), it was the largest military base in the Jacksonville area. The parcel contains more than 3% of the total land area in Duval County (17,000 acres (69 km2)). 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.
The Florida Times-Union is the major daily newspaper in Jacksonville and the First Coast. Jacksonville.com is its official website. The Financial News & Daily Record is a daily paper focused on the business and legal communities. Weekly papers include the Jacksonville Business Journal, an American City Business Journals publication focused on business news, Folio Weekly, the city's chief alternative weekly, and The Florida Star and the Jacksonville Free Press, two weeklies catering to African Americans. Jax4Kids, a monthly newspaper, caters to parents. EU Jacksonville is a monthly entertainment magazine. Metro Jacksonville is an online-only publication.
Jacksonville is the 47th largest local television market in the United States,. Despite its large population, Jacksonville has always been a medium-sized market because the surrounding suburbs and rural areas are not much larger than the city itself. It is served by television stations affiliated with major American networks including WTLV 12 (NBC) and its sister station WJXX 25 (ABC), WJAX-TV 47 (CBS) and WFOX-TV 30 (Fox; with MyNetworkTV/MeTV on DT2), which operates WJAX-TV under a joint sales and shared services agreement, WJCT 7 (PBS), and WCWJ 17 (CW). WJXT 4, WCWJ's sister station, is a former longtime CBS affiliate that turned independent in 2002.
Jacksonville is the 49th largest local radio market in the United States, and is dominated by the same two large ownership groups that dominate the radio industry across the United States: Cox Radio and iHeartMedia. The dominant AM radio station in terms of ratings is WOKV 690AM, which is also the flagship station for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In May 2013, WOKV began simulcasting on 104.5 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 WKSL 97.9 FM (KISS FM). WJBT 93.3 (The Beat) is a hip-hop/R&B station, 96.9 The Eagle WJGL operates a Classic Hits format while its HD subchannel WJGL-HD2 operates an Urban CHR format under the moniker Power 106.1, WWJK 107.3 is an Adult Variety station. WXXJ 102.9 is an alternative station, WQIK 99.1 is a country station as well as WGNE-FM 99.9, WCRJ FM 88.1/WSOS-FM 94.1 (The Promise) is the main Contemporary Christian music station operating since 1984, and WJCT 89.9 is the local National Public Radio affiliate. WJKV 90.9 FM is an Educational Media Foundation K-LOVE outlet. The NPR and PRX radio show, State of the Re:Union, hosted by performance poet and playwright, Al Letson, is headquartered and produced in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville is home to three naval facilities, and with Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay nearby makes Jacksonville the third largest naval presence in the country. Only Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego, California are bigger. The military is by far the largest employer in Jacksonville and its total economic impact is approximately $6.1 billion annually. Several veterans service organizations are also headquartered in Jacksonville including Wounded Warrior Project.
Naval Air Station Jacksonville is a military airport located 4 miles (6.4 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 U.S. 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". In January 2009, the Navy committed to stationing a nuclear-powered carrier at Mayport when the official Record of Decision was signed. The port will require approximately $500 million in facility enhancements to support the larger vessel, which would take several years to complete. The carrier was projected to arrive in 2019, however an amphibious group was sent before the carrier.
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 a U.S. Navy ship named for the city. The ship's nickname is The Bold One and Pearl Harbor is her home port.
The Florida Air National Guard is based at Jacksonville International Airport.
Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville is located on the St. Johns River next to Naval Station Mayport. Sector Jacksonville controls operations from Kings Bay, Ga. south to Cape Canaveral, Fla. The CGC Kingfisher, CGC Maria Bray, and CGC Hammer are stationed at the Sector. Station Mayport is co-located with Sector Jacksonville and includes 25-foot (7.6 m) Response Boats, and 47-foot (14 m) Motor Life Boats.
Throughout the year, many annual events of various types are held in Jacksonville. In sports, the annual Gate River Run has been held annually since March 1977. It has been the US National 15-kilometre (9.3 mi) road race Championship since 1994 and is the largest race of its distance in the country with over 13,000 runners, spectators, and volunteers, making it Jacksonville's largest participation sporting event. In college football, the Gator Bowl is held on January 1. It has been continuously held since 1946. Also, the Florida–Georgia game (also known as the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party"), the annual college football game between the rival Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs has been held in Jacksonville almost yearly since 1933. For six days in July the Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament is held for fishermen of all skills. With $500,000 of prizes up for grabs, up to 1000 boats participate with almost 30,000 spectators watching. Jacksonville is also home of River City Pride which is Northeast Florida's largest Gay Pride parade. The parade and festivities usually take place over the course of the weekend usually the first or second weekend in October in Jacksonville's Riverside neighborhood. The first pride parade was held in 1978.
A number of cultural events are also held in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival, held downtown, is the second-largest jazz festival in the nation, while Springing the Blues, one of the oldest and largest blues festivals, has been held in Jacksonville Beach since 1990. The World of Nations Celebration has been held in Metropolitan Park since 1993, and features a number of events, food and souvenirs from various countries.
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. Other events include the Blessing of the Fleet held in March since 1985 and the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair in November at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds and Exposition Center featuring games, rides, food, entertainment and livestock exhibition. One Spark is an annual and the largest crowdfunding event held for creators to showcase their ideas for a chance to win part of $300,000 in funding. Riverside Arts Market (RAM), an outdoor arts-and-crafts market on the Riverwalk, occurs every Saturday from March to December under the canopy of the Fuller Warren Bridge. Holiday celebrations include the Freedom, Fanfare & Fireworks celebration on July 4, the lighting of Jacksonville's official Christmas tree at the Jacksonville Landing on the day after Thanksgiving and the Jacksonville Light Parade of boats the following day.
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 Coliseum that was built in 1960 and demolished on June 26, 2003. 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 former owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Delores and Wayne Weaver). It also has a multitude of reptile houses, free flight aviaries, and many other animals. Adventure Landing is an amusement park with locations in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach. The Jacksonville Beach location contains Shipwreck Island, Duval County's only waterpark.
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 Alhambra Dinner Theatre, located on the Southside near the University of North Florida, has offered professional productions that frequently starred well-known actors since 1967. There are also a number of popular community theatres such as Players by the Sea located in Jacksonville Beach. The Murray Hill Art Center was reopened in February 2012 through a partnership of the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation (JaxParks) and the Art League of Jacksonville, a nonprofit dedicated to arts education. The center is located in the historic Murray Hill area and offers community arts classes as well as shared studio space for aspiring artists. Visitors are welcomed year around for events and classes.
Jacksonville has two fully enclosed shopping malls. The oldest is the Regency Square Mall, which opened in 1967 and is located on former sand dunes in the Arlington area. The other is The Avenues Mall, which opened in 1990 on the Southside, at the intersection of I-95 and US 1. The Orange Park Mall is another mall located just south of the city in the suburb of Orange Park, Florida, in Clay County, off of Blanding Boulevard (State Road 21). The end of the indoor shopping mall may be indicated by the opening of The St. Johns Town Center in 2005 and the River City Marketplace, on the Northside in 2006. Both of these are "open air" malls, with a similar mix of stores, but without being contained under a single, enclosed roof. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), only one enclosed mall has been built in the United States since 2006. The Avenues, Orange Park Mall, and St. Johns Town Center are all owned by Simon Property Group; Regency is owned by General Growth Properties; River City Marketplace is owned by Ramco-Gershenson.
A handful of significant literary works are associated with Jacksonville and the surrounding area. Perhaps the most important of these is that of James Weldon Johnson. His first success as a writer was the poem "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" (1899), which his brother Rosamond set to music; the song became unofficially known as the "Negro National Anthem." Already famous for having written Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), Harriet Beecher Stowe published Palmetto Leaves in 1873. A travel guide and memoir about her winters in the town of Mandarin, Florida, it was one of the first guides written about Florida and stimulated Florida's first boom of tourism and residential development in the 1880s.
Sun-Ray Cinema, formerly the 5 Points Theatre and Riverside Theatre, opened in 1927. It was the first theater equipped to show talking pictures in Florida and the third nationally. It is located in the Five Points section of town and was renamed the Five Points Theater in 1949. 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. 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), Moving McAllister (2007), The Year of Getting to Know Us (2008), The Ramen Girl and Like Dandelion Dust.
Notable television series or made-for-television films that have been partially or completely shot in Jacksonville include Inherit the Wind (1988), Orpheus Descending (1990), Saved by the Light (1995), The Babysitter's Seduction (1996), First Time Felon (1997), Safe Harbor (2009), Recount (2008), American Idol (2009), and Ash vs Evil Dead (2015).
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is an art museum in Jacksonville's Riverside neighborhood. It was founded in 1961, following the death of Ninah Mae Holden Cummer, who willed her collection, home, and gardens to the museum. Its galleries display one of the world's three most comprehensive collections of Meissen porcelain as well as large collections of American, European, and Japanese art. The grounds also contain two acres of Italian and English gardens begun by Ninah Cummer.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA Jacksonville) is a contemporary art museum funded and operated as a "cultural resource" of the University of North Florida. Tracing its roots back to the formation of Jacksonville's Fine Arts Society in 1924, it opened its current 60,000-square-foot (6,000 m2) facility next to the Main Library downtown in 2003. The museum features eclectic permanent and traveling exhibitions and a collection of over 700 works.
The Museum of Science & History (MOSH), located in downtown's Southbank Riverwalk, specializes in science and local history exhibits. It features a main exhibit that changes quarterly, plus three floors of nature exhibits, an extensive exhibit on the history of Northeast Florida, a hands-on science area and the area's only astronomy theater, the Bryan Gooding Planetarium.
Kingsley Plantation is a historic plantation built in 1798. The house of Zephaniah Kingsley, barn, kitchen and slave cabins still exist today.
Alexander Brest, founder of Duval Engineering and Contracting Co., 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 Jacksonville Maritime Museum, located in the Jacksonville Landing, includes models of ships, paintings, photographs and artifacts dating to 1562.
Three other art galleries are located at educational institutions in town. Florida State College at Jacksonville has the Kent Gallery on their westside campus and the Wilson Center for the Arts at their main campus. The University Gallery is located on the campus of the University of North Florida.
The Jacksonville Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is a branch of the world's largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. The museum in Jacksonville is 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 19th century.
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 Jacksonville Historical Society showcases two restoration projects: the 1887 St. Andrews Episcopal Church and the 1879 Merrill House, both located near the sports complex.
The Ritz Theatre, opened in 1929, is located in the LaVilla neighborhood of the northern part of Jacksonville's downtown. The Jacksonville music scene was active in the 1930s in LaVilla, which was known as "Harlem of the South". Black musicians from across the country visited Jacksonville to play standing room only performances at the Ritz Theatre and the Knights of Pythias Hall. Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong were a few of the legendary performers who appeared. After his mother died when he was 15, Ray Charles lived with friends of his mother while he played piano at the Ritz for a year, before moving on to fame and fortune. The Ritz Theatre was rebuilt and opened in October 1999.
Jacksonville native Pat Boone was a popular 1950s singer and teen idol. During the 1960s, the Classics IV was the most successful pop rock band from Jacksonville. Southern Rock was defined by the Allman Brothers Band, which formed in 1969 in Jacksonville. Lynyrd Skynyrd achieved near cult status and inspired Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet and.38 Special, all successful in the 1970s. The 1980s were a quiet decade for musical talent in Jacksonville.
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 next local group to achieve national success was the nu metal band Limp Bizkit, formed in 1994. Other popular Hip Hop acts in the 1990s included 95 South, 69 Boyz and the Quad City DJ's. The bands Inspection 12, Cold and Yellowcard were also well known and had a large following. Following the millennium, Fit For Rivals, Burn Season, Evergreen Terrace, Shinedown, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, and Black Kids became notable bands from the city.
Jacksonville is home to one major league sports team, the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL). The Jaguars joined the NFL as an expansion team in the 1995 season; they play their home games at EverBank Field. In 2005, Jacksonville hosted Super Bowl XXXIX. The PGA Tour, which organizes the main professional golf tournaments in the U.S., is headquartered in the suburb of Ponte Vedra Beach, where it holds The Players Championship every year.
Jacksonville is also home to several minor league-level teams. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, a class Double-A baseball team, have played in Jacksonville continuously since 1970, longer than any other Double-A team has been in its city, and are the top-selling franchise in the Southern League. The Jacksonville Sharks, who began play in 2010, were the champions of the Arena Football League's ArenaBowl XXIV in 2011 and now play in the National Arena League. The Jacksonville Axemen are a semi-professional rugby league team founded in 2006, and now play in the USA Rugby League. The Jacksonville Giants basketball team started play in the new American Basketball Association in December 2010. The Giants won the 2012 ABA Championship in March 2012 in Tampa, Florida. The Jacksonville Armada FC is a soccer team that began play in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 2015.
College sports, especially college football, are popular in Jacksonville. The city hosts the Florida–Georgia game, an annual college football game between the University of Florida and the University of Georgia, and the Gator Bowl, a post-season college bowl game. Jacksonville's two universities compete in NCAA Division I: the University of North Florida Ospreys and the Jacksonville University Dolphins, both in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The most noteworthy feature of Jacksonville government is its consolidated nature, an arrangement brought about in the 1968 Jacksonville Consolidation. 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 Duval County are allowed to vote in elections for these positions and to run for them. In fact, in 1995, John Delaney, a resident of Neptune Beach, was elected mayor of the city of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville is organized under the city charter and provides for a "strong" mayor–council form of city government. The Mayor of Jacksonville is elected to four-year terms and serves as the head of the government's executive branch. The Jacksonville City Council comprises nineteen members, fourteen representing electoral districts and five more in at-large seats. The mayor oversees most city departments, though some are independent or quasi-independent. Law enforcement is provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, headed by an elected sheriff, public schools are overseen by Duval County Public Schools, and several services are provided by largely independent authorities. 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.
Some government services remained—as they had been before 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.
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.
The present mayor is Lenny Curry, who assumed office on July 1, 2015. The past mayor was Alvin Brown.
Federally, most of the city is in the 4th district, represented by Republican John Rutherford. Most of central Jacksonville is in the 5th district, represented by Democrat Al Lawson. The 4th and 5th districts are some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country.
In 2010, Duval County's crime rate was 5,106 per 100,000 people, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The county's murder rate had been the highest among Florida's counties with a population of 500,000 or more for eleven years in 2009, leading to widespread discussion in the community about how to deal with the problem. In 2010 Duval County's violent crime rate decreased by 9.3% from the previous year, with total crime decreasing 7.3%, putting the murder rate behind that of Miami-Dade County.
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 Jacksonville, currently Mike Williams, and is responsible for law enforcement and corrections in the county.
Jacksonville is home to a number of institutions of higher education. The University of North Florida (UNF), opened in 1972, is a public institution and a member of the State University System of Florida. Former mayor John Delaney has been president of UNF since 2003. Jacksonville University (JU) is a private institution founded in 1934. Edward Waters College, established in 1866, is the oldest college in Jacksonville and the state's oldest historically black college. Florida State College at Jacksonville is a state college and a member of the Florida College System, offering two-year associate's degrees as well as some four-year bachelor's degrees. The University of Florida has its second campus of the J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center in Jacksonville.
Other colleges and universities in Jacksonville include Florida Coastal School of Law and Jones College. Also in the area are St. Johns River State College, a state college with campuses in Clay, St. Johns, and Putnam Counties, and Flagler College in St. Augustine.
Public primary and secondary schools in Jacksonville and Duval County are administered by Duval County Public Schools, which is governed by an elected, seven-member Duval County School Board. In the 2009–2010 school year the district enrolled 123,000 students. It administers 172 total schools, including 103 elementary schools, 25 middle schools, 19 high schools, 3 K–8 schools, and 1 6–12 school, as well as 13 charter schools and a juvenile justice school program. Of these, 62 are designated magnet schools.
Three of Jacksonville's high schools, Stanton College Preparatory School, Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts and Paxon School for Advanced Studies regularly appear at the top of Newsweek magazine's annual list of the country's top public high schools, coming in respectively at #3 #7, and #8 in the 2010 edition. Five other schools, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (#33), Mandarin High School (#97), Duncan U. Fletcher High School (#205) Sandalwood High School (#210), and Englewood High School (#1146) were also included in the list.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine operates a number of Catholic schools in Jacksonville, including two high schools, Bishop Kenny High School and Bishop John J. Snyder High School. Other private schools in Jacksonville include Arlington Country Day School, the Bolles School, Trinity Christian Academy, and the Episcopal School of 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. The Jacksonville library system has twenty branches, ranging in size from the 54,000 sq ft (5,000 m2) West Regional Library to smaller neighborhood libraries like Westbrook and Eastside. 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 300,000 sq ft (30,000 m2) Main Library opened to the public, replacing the 40-year-old Haydon Burns Library. The largest public library in the state, the opening of the new main library marked the completion of an unprecedented period of growth for the system under the Better Jacksonville Plan. The new Main Library offers specialized reading rooms, public access to hundreds of computers and public displays of art, an extensive collection of books, and special collections ranging from the African-American Collection to the recently opened Holocaust Collection.
There are seven bridges over the St. Johns River at Jacksonville. They include (starting from furthest downstream) the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge (Dames Point) (which carries Interstate 295 Eastern Beltway traffic), the John E. Mathews Bridge, the Isaiah D. Hart Bridge, the John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge (Main Street), the St. Elmo W. Acosta Bridge, the Fuller Warren Bridge (which carries I-95 traffic) and the Henry Holland Buckman Bridge (which carries I-295 North/South traffic). Also, next to the Acosta Bridge is a large jackknife railroad bridge built in the 1920s by Henry flagler's FEC railroad.
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.
Interstate 10 (I-10) and I-95 intersect in Jacksonville, forming the busiest intersection in the region with 200,000 vehicles each day. I-10 ends at this intersection (the other end being in Santa Monica, California). Additionally, State Road 202 (SR 202, J. Turner Butler Boulevard) connects Jacksonville to the beaches.
I-95 has a bypass route, I-295, which encircles the downtown area. The major interchange at I-295 and SR 202 was finally completed on December 24, 2008. SR 9B is under construction and will connect I-295's southeast corner to the Bayard Area. SR 9B will be called I-795 when it is completed. U.S. Highway 1 (US 1) and US 17 travel through the city from the south to the north, and US 23 enters the city running concurrently with US 1. In downtown, US 23 splits from US 1 and quickly runs to its southern terminus. The eastern terminus of US 90 is in nearby Jacksonville Beach near the Atlantic Ocean. US 23's other end is in Mackinaw City, Michigan.
Several regional transportation projects have been undertaken in recent years to deal with congestion on Jacksonville freeways. A $152 million project to create a high-speed interchange at the intersection of Interstates 10 and 95 began in February 2005, after the conclusion of Super Bowl XXXIX. Construction was expected to take nearly six years with multiple lane flyovers and the requirement that the interchange remain open throughout the project. The previous configuration utilized single lane, low speed, curved ramps which created backups during rush hours and contributed to accidents. Also, construction of 9B, future Interstate 795, is currently underway.
The Jacksonville Skyway is an automated people mover connecting Florida State College at Jacksonville downtown campus, the Northbank central business district, Convention Center, and Southbank locations. The system includes 8 stops connected by two lines. The existing train is a UMIII monorail built by Bombardier. The guideway consists of concrete beams which rest atop an unusually large support structure not used in most monorail systems. Maximum speed for the train is 48 km/h (30 mph).
A monorail was first proposed in the 1970s as part of a mobility plan hoping to attract interest from the Urban Mass Transit Administration's Downtown Peoplemover Program. The initial study was undertaken by the Florida Department of Transportation and Jacksonville's planning department, who took the Skyway project to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) in 1977. Following further development and a final 18-month feasibility study, the UMTA selected Jacksonville as one of seven cities to receive federal funding for an automated people mover. Two other related projects are Miami's Metromover and Detroit's People Mover. UMTA's approved plan called for the construction of a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) Phase I system to be built in three segments.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides daily service from the Jacksonville Amtrak Station on Clifford Lane in the northwest section of the city. Two trains presently stop there, the Silver Meteor and Silver Star. Jacksonville was also served by the thrice-weekly Sunset Limited and the daily Silver Palm. Service on the Silver Palm was cut back to Savannah, Georgia in 2002. The Sunset Limited route was truncated at San Antonio, Texas as a result of the track damage in the Gulf Coast area caused by Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005. Service was restored as far east as New Orleans by late October 2005, but Amtrak has opted not to fully restore service into Florida.
Jacksonville is the headquarters of two significant freight railroads. CSX Transportation, owns a large building on the downtown riverbank that is a significant part of the skyline. Florida East Coast Railway also calls Jacksonville home.
Jacksonville is served by Jacksonville International Airport (IATA: JAX, ICAO: KJAX, FAA LID: JAX), 13 miles north of downtown, with 82 departures a day to 27 nonstop destination cities. Airports in Jacksonville are managed by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA). Smaller aircraft use Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport (IATA: CRG, ICAO: KCRG, FAA LID: CRG) in Arlington, Herlong Recreational Airport (ICAO: KHEG, FAA LID: HEG) on the Westside, and Cecil Airport (IATA: VQQ, ICAO: KVQQ, FAA LID: VQQ), at Cecil Commerce Center. The state of Florida has designated Cecil Airport a space port, allowing horizontal lift spacecraft to use the facility.
Public seaports in Jacksonville are managed by the Jacksonville Port Authority, known as JAXPORT. Four modern deepwater (40 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 for 1,500 passengers to Key West, Florida, the Bahamas, and Mexico via Carnival Cruise Lines ship, Celebration, which was retired in April 2008. For almost five months, no cruises originated from Jacksonville until September 20, 2008, when the cruise ship Fascination departed with 2,079 passengers. In Fiscal year 2006, there were 78 cruise ship sailings with 128,745 passengers. A JaxPort spokesperson said in 2008 that they expect 170,000 passengers to sail each year.
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue operates a fleet of three fireboats. Its vessels are called on to fight approximately 75 fires per year.
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. The state of Florida transferred responsibility for ferry operations to JAXPORT on October 1, 2007.
Basic utilities in Jacksonville (water, sewer, electric) are provided by JEA (formerly the 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 Jacksonville's local cable provider. AT&T (formerly BellSouth) is Jacksonville's local phone provider, and their U-Verse service offers TV, internet, and VoIP phone service to customers served by fiber-to-the-premises or fiber-to-the-node using a VRAD. 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.
Major players in the Jacksonville health care industry include St. Vincent's HealthCare, Baptist Health and UF Health Jacksonville for local residents. Additionally, Nemours Children's Clinic and Mayo Clinic Jacksonville each draw patients regionally.
The TaxExemptWorld.com website, which compiles Internal Revenue Service data, reported that in 2007, there are 2,910 distinct, active, tax exempt/non-profit organizations in Jacksonville which, excluding Credit Unions, had a total income of $7.08 billion and assets of $9.54 billion. There are 333 charitable organizations with assets of over $1 million. The largest share of assets was tied to Medical facilities, $4.5 billion. The problems of the homeless are addressed by several non-profits, most notably the Sulzbacher Center and the Clara White Mission.