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Jacksonville History, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida’s history dates back to more than 2,000 B.C. when the native Timucua people occupied the area. The first European explorers to arrive in Jacksonville were led by Rene de Laudonniere in 1562. These Huguenot visitors sailed in the mouth of St. Johns River and they constructed Fort Caroline, which was located on the river north of present-day Jacksonville downtown.

 In 1565, the Spanish forces occupied the fort resulting to a bloody massacre. In the year 1821, the Florida region became a United States territory. The years that followed lead to a sequence of wars among Great Britain, Spain and France. During that same year, Isaiah Hart, an owner of a plantation in Georgia transferred to the narrow area in St. Johns River which became known as “Cowford” where his cow herds were moved by ferry.

The following year, the plantation owner laid out a plan for a town and called it Jacksonville. It was named after General Andrew Jackson, a Florida Territory provisional governor who later became a U.S. president.

The small community thrived and was chartered as a town and designated its first mayor in the year 1832. In 1859, Jacksonville became a city and Florida’s major port, exporting timber goods and cotton.

 Jacksonville did not become a part of the Confederacy during the Civil War in 1861-1865. The opposing sides tried to seize the land and the Union Army took over the city on four occasions. After the battle of Olustee in the city of Jacskonville, Union soldiers were brought to Jacksonville’s homes and churches that were later converted to military hospitals. The Union forces then, damaged the city but Jacksonville recovered quickly.

 In the second half of the 19th century, Jacksonville’s population increased and the tourism industry began to boom. The city prospered and grew during the 1870s, primarily due to the development of the lumber and shipping industries. As with other areas around the east Florida coast, beach communities in Jacksonville were established because of the development of railway systems around the region. Several businessmen from Jacksonville joined their forces in the construction of a railway system, which ended at a beach area east of the town.

In the year 1888, along with the establishment of luxurious hotels and selling of beach properties in the area, the first direct railroad service connecting the city and the northern areas was constructed. However, the city had its share of tragedy when a yellow fever epidemic hit the city and killed dozens in the city.

Another tragedy that struck Jacksonville was in 1901, when stove embers ignited materials at the Cleveland Fiber Factory caused a huge fire that engulfed most of the city. This was known as the “Great Fire of 1901” and resulted to huge losses in business and devastated homes city buildings and properties. But with much effort, the city was rebuilt and the population grew more in the 1920s.

 Jacksonville has an important contribution in the early development of the film industry. The favorable climate, low labor cost and housing all contributed to this development, which lasted until the early 1920s when the industry was relocated to California.

During the Second World War, two naval air stations and the Mayport Naval Base was built in Jacksonville. During the 1950s, Jacksonville had a suburban sprawl wherein the country population grew and many moved out of the city. A consolidation was made between the city and the Duval County in 1968, and Jacksonville city moved up on the list among the cities in the U.S. from being the 61st to becoming the 22nd.

Between 1960s and 1970s, industrial diversification and the development of Jacksonville’s city port facilities were the major focus. Redevelopment efforts were made and brought about changes in the city, and new service industries also began to thrive especially in the finance and insurance sector.


Things about Jacksonville you may be interested in


Read our members' reviews about Jacksonville

  • lindamuraHow to get ahead in Florida
    review by lindamura posted more then 30 days ago
    Population: 16 million Major Airports: Miami International Airport - Miami (MIA), Fort Lauderdale International Airport - Forth Lauderdale (FLL), Orlando International Airport - Orlando (MCO), Palm Beach International Airport - Palm Beach (PBI), Tampa international Airport - Tampa (TPA),...
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Read our members' travel tips about Jacksonville

  • stefJacksonville Museum of Modern Art
    travel tip by stef posted more then 30 days ago
    A small museum with a variety of of artworks from famous and less famous artists. The Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art is also open for families on Sundays free of charge. For those who like modern art, or are learning about it, or...
  • athenaloveTimucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve
    travel tip by athenalove posted more then 30 days ago
    There are so many things to see and to learn about in the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve that one day wouldn't be enough, maybe. If you decide to visit the Preserve, you shouldn't miss The Fort Caroline Memorial, the...
  • zloriFort Caroline National Memorial
    travel tip by zlori posted more then 30 days ago
    History, culture, religion, battles and people; this is what Fort Caroline National Memorial is all about. In the heart of the Timucuan Preserve, Fort Caroline provides glimpses of the time when the French were occupying the area. It...
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Members Who Have Been to Jacksonville

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