POPULATION: 1,065,219 (urban), 1,394,624 (metro) | TIME ZONE: Eastern | CLIMATE: Humid subtropical (mild winters, hot and humid summers, summer thunderstorms with brief, torrential downpours)
Hard to believe that a town once named Cow Ford has grown to become Florida’s most populous city, and the nation’s largest by area. Named in honor of General Andrew Jackson in 1821, the city has long been an important naval port. After the Civil War, Jacksonville became a Gilded Age resort for wealthy northerners. That position was eventually usurped by Henry Flagler’s extension of the Florida East coast Railroad south into Miami. Jacksonville has the dubious distinction of having the largest ever urban fire in the U.S., leaving 10,000 residents homeless in a period of eight hours. In the 1910s, Jacksonville caught the cinematic eye of New York filmmakers who enjoyed the warm weather, subtropical locations and cheap labor. Jacksonville became known as the "Winter Film Capital of the World."
The town also became significant to the African-American film industry. But ultimately, when California soon opened its arms to the film industry, Jacksonville’s star faded. Naval Air Station Jacksonville was established in 1940, and is where the Blue Angels were born. Today, NAS Jax is the country’s third largest navy installation. Jacksonville’s location, tucked away in the northeast corner of the state, has largely spared it from hurricanes. A notable exception was hurricane Dora, back in 1964. The day after the hurricane, despite a fair amount of damage and destruction, 20,000 fans flocked to Gator Bowl Stadium for a concert by The Beatles. (The post-hurricane winds were so strong that Ringo's drum kit had to be nailed to the stage.) Jacksonville has a very low cost of living and an arguably high quality of life. With 262 designated parks covering more than 80,000 acres, Jacksonville has the nation’s largest urban park system. Like fishing, boating, water skiing or golf? It’s here.
The River City
New City of the South
Where Florida Begins
RANDOM SONG ABOUT THE CITY
Jacksonville,by Josh Taylor
PRO SPORTS TEAMS
Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL)
Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Jacksonville Sharks (AFL)
Jacksonville Axemen (USA Rugby League)
Jacksonville Giants (ABA)
Jacksonville Armada FC (NASL)
ALSO KNOWN FOR...
The Creature From The Black Lagoon
The first official performance of the blues, April 16, 1910.
One of the country’s longest-running and largest blues festivals
The second-biggest jazz festival in the U.S.
The birthplace of southern rock
Being Hollywood before there was a Hollywood
The biggest city by area in the continental U.S.
Elvis Presley’s first indoor concert
The nation’s largest 15K race
The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (the Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs football grudge match)
The oldest outdoor skate park in the U.S. and possibly the world
The largest urban public parks system in the U.S.
Only ever being directly hit by one hurricane
Lee Ann Womack, Tim McGraw, Pat Boone, Stephen Crane, Tug McGraw, Tim McGraw, Ray Charles, Gary U.S. Bonds, The Allman Brothers, Henry Flagler, Alfred duPont, Louis Wolfson, Elizabeth Edwards, Arthur Blind Blake, tons and tons of athletes and musicians
Look for desirable riverfront living with a rural feel in neighborhoods like Yellowbluff and Oceanway. Residential development is happening in a place that used to be primarily industrial. Convenient to downtown and to the airport, you can find lots around an acre. Residential developments include ranch homes and the ever popular Florida take on the Mediterranean villa. Riverside offers tree-shaded streets lined with bungalows, brownstones and Mediterranean-revival homes from the early 20th century. Also close to downtown, you’ll find young professionals, as well as nurses and doctors from St. Vincent Medical Center, frequenting upscale eateries, clubs and boutiques. The Southside area is growing fast, and has become a desirable place to live. Good schools and excellent parks & rec make it an attractive place for all kinds of neighborhoods, from working-class enclaves to gated communities—almost entirely recent construction. There’s something very Florida about San Marco. Built in the 1920s, it was modeled after the Italy’s Piazza San Marco. You’ll find vintage estates and trendy bistros in an artsy vibe. Look for attractive and high-priced digs along Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach. An active area with lots of cycling, surfing, running and rollerblading, outdoor activity is a way of life here. The Westside’s Orange Park is more rural with lower home prices. You’llfind restaurants and shopping in nearby Fleming Island and Doctors Inlet. The Naval Air Station is also nearby. Want a spread of property and salt-of-the-earth folks? This might be your place.