Argyle | Arlington | Atlantic Beach | Baldwin | Baymeadows | Dames Point | Five Points | Jacksonville Beach | Mandarin
Marietta | Mayport | Maxville | Neptune Beach | Normandy | Ortega | Riverside | San Jose | San Marco | Southside | Springfield
Clay County | St. John's County | Find a location
Duval County in North Florida is home to Jacksonville, the largest U.S. city in land mass. It is bounded by the St. John's River to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east and offers a wide variety of neighborhoods and lifestyles.
The largest U.S. city in terms of square miles (840), Jacksonville includes the communities of Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Mayport.Jacksonville is represented in major professional sports by the Jaguars of the NFL and the Barracudas of the ACHL. The Jags play at Alltel Stadium, located on the banks of the St. Johns River that in Feburary of 2005 was host to SuperBowl XXXIX.
The waterfront is the focus of the vibrant downtown, with inexpensive river taxis available to take passengers between the two sides of the city and to the beaches. Jacksonville Landing, on the northbank of the river, is a festival marketplace with more than 60 shops, restaurants, the Jacksonville Maritime Museum, and an active nightlife. Stroll down RiverWalk, the 1.2 mile boardwalk on the city's southbank riverfront. There you will find eateries, bars, a marina, and pavilions.
Because it is so large, the city offers diverse neighborhoods that fit into almost every lifestyle and price range:
Straddling the border of Duval and Clay is a community with a big future.
Argyle, a family-friendly community of homes, schools and businesses, has evolved from the farmlands it once was. Since its inception in the early 1980s, the area continues to be a hot spot for affordable, quality housing. Its location near the Cecil Commerce Center and Branan Field-Chaffee Road further stimulates its growth. It is close to Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Interstate 295. Shopping centers, restaurants, hospitals, schools and more are an easy commute.
The surrounding area has seen a boom in commercial development. The Orange Park Mall, AMC-24 Theaters and a growing number of restaurants line Wells Road, just over the Clay County line near Argyle. Being so close to both Clay and Duval counties, Argyle residents can take advantage of the benefits of both.
Neighborhood parks, recreation centers and churches dot Argyle Forest Boulevard.
Branan Field-Chaffee Road links Blanding Boulevard in mid-Clay County to Interstate 10 on Jacksonville's Westside, a north-south alternative to traffic on Blanding Boulevard and U.S. 17 in Clay County.
Argyle's newest subdivison, OakLeaf Plantation, is being built at the intersection of Branan Field-Chaffee Road and Argyle Forest Boulevard. The project will redefine the area with a major mall, golf course community and other shopping and housing.
From its earliest days of settlements during the Spanish ownership of Florida, Arlington - the community west of the Regency Square shopping area and north of Beach Boulevard - has played an important role in Jacksonville's housing history.
During the 1800s, lumber and grist mills were established and, after the Civil War, more homes were constructed. It also was the site of religious colonies and a popular railroad line.
Starting in 1950 and assisted by the opening of the Mathews Bridge in 1953, Arlington was the fastest-growing area in Duval County for the next 20 years.
Arlington has since mushroomed far beyond its original boundaries. Real estate professionals familiar with the area see a renewed interest in some of the older homes, especially those with waterfront property. Some of these homes date back to the early 1900s.
For many of these reasons, the area has become a hot spot for young up-and-comers, with 47 percent of the population ages 18 to 24 and 25 percent from 35 to 44.
Bordered by Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to the north, Atlantic Boulevard to the south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, Atlantic Beach offers a small-town atmosphere with easy access to the ocean.
Stretching only about 25 blocks from north to south, Atlantic Beach is a closed-end community with a neighborhood feeling. The town center, near the landmark Sea Turtle Inn, is a popular gathering point with many quaint eateries and boutiques.
Atlantic Beach has plenty of parks with opportunities for a variety of activities such as tennis, racquetball, basketball, baseball and nature hikes, as well as playground equipment. In addition, the Bull Recreational Area houses the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theater, which puts on six to eight productions a year.
The community is dominated by single-family homes, with some townhouses and duplexes.
Many Atlantic Beach residents work in the Jacksonville downtown or Southpoint areas, both a 30- to 45-minute commute.
Although part of the greater Jacksonville municipality, Atlantic Beach has its own mayor, city council, police and fire departments.
Baldwin, a town of 1,900 in extreme western Duval County north of Interstate 10, was named for Dr. A.S. Baldwin, who led the successful fight to bring the railroad to the area.
Beaver Street, once known as the Old Spanish Trail, almost bisects Baldwin, which has its own government, police and fire departments. There's easy access to I-10 and to U.S. Highway 301 and Jacksonville International Airport is 25 miles away.
Baldwin is the end point of the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, a 14.5-mile trail system for hikers, in-line skaters, bicyclists and horseback riders. The trail runs between Imeson Road and County Road 121, just past Baldwin. The walking-jogging-skating path is complete, while the mountain bike trail and equestrian path are under construction.
Local real estate agents have found for years that homes put on the market in Baymeadows are quickly snatched up by buyers both from other parts of Jacksonville and from out of town.
The landscape is a mix of mature trees and large yards with the conveniences of city living. You don't have to go far to get to the places you need to go, but you still have the feeling that you live among nature.
With Southside Boulevard and connection to Interstate 95 from Baymeadows Road, residents can be downtown in 15 minutes.
There is a forgotten frontier in Jacksonville with an abundance of waterfront property and pristine views of the St. Johns, Trout and Broward rivers and Dunn Creek. It is an area where industry and nature coexist. Jacksonville's Northside is a diamond in the rough, offering an expanse of land to those desiring a quieter lifestyle and an area being mapped to handle growth with strategic planning.
Although the area has been known primarily for industry, the tides are turning. People now see the Northside as incredibly convenient to downtown, Jacksonville International Airport (only a 15-minute drive), and varied recreational opportunities such as Big Talbot and Little Talbot islands, the Jacksonville zoo and Huguenot Park. The area also backs up to 56,000 acres of the Timucuan preserve.
Five Points -- named for where Park, Margaret and Lomax streets come together from five directions -- is really part of the Riverside area, but stands on its own because of its unusual nature.
Colorful storefronts, restaurants and funky specialty shops, some with a lot of 'tude, make up the retail part of this area. Within eyesight and walking distance are schools, churches, parks and the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. You can see young folks with numerous piercings as often as you see men and women in business suits.
Merchants and residents are continuing to try to establish the Five Points area as a Jacksonville arts district, already calling it an art-focused neighborhood.
Jacksonville Beach is finally coming into its own. At one time, it was a commercial center, full of businesses, oceanfront hotels and residential rental property. Simply put, it was a nice place to visit or shop, but you wouldn't want to live there.
As demand for homes anywhere at the Beaches continues to skyrocket, more people have found Jacksonville Beach's mix of everything from million-dollar oceanfront condos to the area's most affordable housing quite appealing. Jacksonville Beach is a community of the active -- head out at just about any time of day and you'll see people bicycling along the ocean, sunning, or riding the waves.
Cultural, music and entertainment events are often on stage in Jacksonville Beach. The new SeaWalk Pavilion, part of a $2.4 million downtown renovation project, is the focal point of beach festivals, which bring everything from blues legends to Latin bands to the stage.
Bordered by the Beauclerc area to the north, Julington Creek to the south and the St. Johns River to the west, Mandarin has been a popular family-oriented community for more than 20 years. It offers residents the amenities of an established community with a history, as well as the conveniences connected with the larger Jacksonville metropolitan area.
Quality education is a priority for most families considering relocation, and real estate experts agree that Mandarin has excellent schools with four elementary schools, two middle schools and Mandarin Senior High School. The area also offers various parochial and private educational facilities.
The community is central to Southpoint and Philips Highway businesses, making it a convenient commute for those who work in that busy corridor.
Downtown-area businesses, performing arts centers and Alltel Stadium are within a 20- to 25-minute drive.
River access and good neighborhood parks are another attractive feature. The community has many parks, both active and passive, several marinas and more waterfront views than any other area in Jacksonville.
Marietta and Whitehouse
Few places around Jacksonville still can claim a country atmosphere with room to move.
Marietta offers unusually large lots with an average of a half-acre with new development coming in, too, satisfying those looking for a good combination of rural community and modern homes.
Many move to Marietta because they have animals. It's not uncommon to see cows, horses or other farm animals there.
The Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, opened in February 2000, also winds through Marietta. The trail, converted from the roadbeds of abandoned railroad lines to paved or graveled restricted thoroughfares, offers a pathway for bicycles, skaters and walker/hikers as well as horseback riders. The 14.5-mile trail runs through an area of industrial developments, farms with grazing cows and horses and forests that come right up to the grassy shoulders.
Mayport is an eclectic mix of a beach community and quaint fishing town with a strong military presence. The area, previously a forgotten bedroom community of Jacksonville, is undergoing improvements, with even more planned for a place that's home to a fleet of shrimp boats, a large naval base, old Florida-style bungalows and numerous pelicans squatting on salt-warped pilings.
The Mayport Waterfront Partnership is dedicated to revitalizing the historic fishing village. The partnership includes business people, civic leaders and residents who organized through a state grant in 1997 to restore Mayport. Among other things, the group is developing new zoning standards, putting cable and phone lines underground, fixing streets and drainage problems and planning overall beautification efforts.
Maxville, a community at the intersection of U.S. Highway 301and Normandy Boulevard in the southwest corner of Duval County to the Clay County line, is home to about 3,000 people who like to get away from it all.
The first things you notice about Maxville is that homes have lots of land and that their park has softball fields that are almost always full.
The Diamond D Rent Horse Stables, which offers guided horseback rides through beautiful forest trails, is in Maxville.
Although new residential development hasn't happened yet, Maxville's proximity to the Cecil Commerce Center means that more businesses and people are probably on their way.
The youngest and smallest of the Beaches neighborhoods, Neptune Beach has defined itself by becoming the closest thing to a suburban area among Jacksonville's oceanfront communities.
Neptune Beach's boundaries run from Atlantic Boulevard to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Intracoastal Waterway to the west and Seagate Avenue to the south. According to Wayne Wood's Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage, Neptune Beach first came into being in 1931 when the citizens organized a tax revolt against the city of Jacksonville Beach for better services. Since 1989, it has operated under an elected mayor, council and city manager government.
Commercial areas now include everything from clubs and restaurants to alternative medical centers and imported furniture stores.
Legendary Pete's Bar is the granddaddy of all of Duval County watering holes, with the area's first liquor license, issued in 1933. It also was featured in John Grisham's novel The Brethren. Another Neptune Beach hot spot is the Sun Dog Diner, where, depending on the day of the week, you can hear funk, jazz, rock or folk music.
Normandy and Hyde Park
Driving along Normandy Boulevard is like looking into the past and future all at once. The once rural area nestled on Jacksonville's Westside was once used mainly for dairy farming. Although large patches of land spotted with sprawling oaks, tall pines and grazing cattle still can be found, the area is now at the threshhold of major growth.
With Jacksonville Naval Air Station and the former Cecil Field Naval Air Station close by, Normandy/Hyde Park has for years been a military community. The federal government closed Cecil Field in 1999, however, leaving some residents concerned about the future of the local businesses and their community.
Any concerns are being put to rest, though, now that the city has the deed to the final portion of Cecil Field and plans to make at least $120 million in infrastructure improvements to parts of the 17,000-acre property, now known as Cecil Commerce Center.
Part of the draw to the Normandy/Hyde Park community is its prime location, with easy access to Interstates 295 and 10. The area also is convenient to downtown, only a 10-minute drive. Jacksonville International Airport and shopping malls can be reached within 15 to 30 minutes, and the Beaches are about 40 minutes away.
Ortega and Ortega Forest
The currents of the Ortega River have swept ashore a host of colorful characters: renowned botanist William Bartram; highwayman and cattle rustler Daniel McGirtt; and Don Juan McQueen, who attempted to establish a plantation on his 1791 Ortega land grant, but was forced out by the attacks of Georgians and the French. There was even a persistent rumor that gangster George "Machine Gun" Kelly and his wife were the mysterious couple who abruptly left their rented Grand Avenue home hours before a midnight police raid in 1933.
Present-day Ortega is defined by its rivers, tree-shaded home sites and parks and an eclectic collection of spectacular architectural styles. Mediterranean Revival homes sit side-by-side with colonial-style frame houses. Grand Tudors are alongside cedar-shingle homes.
Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of today's Ortega is its stability. It is well-known as a place to raise a family and to remain even after the children are grown and have left home.
In 1868, Confederate veteran Miles Price sold 500 acres of his property, known as Dell's Bluff, to a Yankee, Edward M. Cheney, and financial backer John M. Forbes of Boston for $10,000 in gold. Forbes and Cheney built grand riverfront homes and waited for the influx of residents. For the next 30 years, however, they remained the only homeowners in the very rural area.
On May 3, 1901, in less than 24 hours, downtown Jacksonville and the majority of the city's homes disappeared in a blazing inferno, sparked by a fire that spread from the Cleaveland Fibre Factory. With downtown Jacksonville in ruins from the Great Fire, residents relocated in droves to the suburbs, starting with Riverside.
Soon riverfront on Riverside Avenue was lined with elegant mansions and, within 10 years, was being called one of the most beautiful streets in America. Architects and construction companies from all over the country had followed the fire to Jacksonville, and Riverside benefited greatly.
Thanks to historically minded people and the Riverside Avondale Preservation Association, much of that area's distinctive architecture remains today. You can see many houses with the brown RAP plaque symbolic of a restoration effort. Developers are also continuing to take a fresh look at old buildings and finding innovative new uses for them.
Born of the Florida land boom in 1925 on the tree-shaded eastern bank of the St. Johns River, San Jose Estates was the most ambitious land development in North Florida in its day. Hotels, a yacht club, shopping center, schools, country club and hundreds of houses were planned. The best architectural, design and development firms were retained. A national advertising campaign was so successful that construction crews worked around the clock to meet the demands of prospective buyers from across the country.
By late 1926, all construction on San Jose Estates had ceased. The Great Depression loomed on the horizon, and Florida's boom became a bust. Only one hotel, the country club and 31 houses were built. The development was dead, but the San Jose neighborhood lived on.
Today, the San Jose Hotel is now the private Bolles School, the development's administration building has become San Jose Episcopal Church and the site of the never-built second hotel became the Alfred I. duPont estate, Epping Forest, now a yacht club surrounded by upscale homes and condominiums.
Red Bank Plantation House on Greenridge Road, the oldest known structure still standing in San Marco, was completed in 1857 by Albert Gallatin Philips, Jacksonville's sheriff from 1833 to 1839. Philips Highway, on the periphery of San Marco, was named for one of his sons, Judge Henry B. Philips.
No longer in existence, Villa Alexandria was the grandest structure of its time. Built in 1872 by Martha Reed Mitchell, sister of former Florida Gov. Harrison Reed, it stood on a 140-acre tract on the St. Johns River. Mitchell's home was a showplace and served as the center of her many charitable activities -- St. Luke's Hospital and All Saints Episcopal Church, among others.
Modern residential development came to San Marco with the 1921 completion of the St. Johns River bridge, later renamed the Acosta Bridge. Then came Telfair Stockton and his plans for an 80-acre subdivision called San Marco. Streets were curved to show off trees and scenic vistas and Lake Marco was formed out of an old brickyard. The mix of architectural styles reflected residents' strong interest in the outside world.
Southside is really more of a general location than a pure neighborhood, but you'll hear it referred to quite often as where people live. San Jose is on the Southside, but so is Southside Estates, across the river and 15 miles away. Because we've outlined particular neighborhoods within Southside, we're identifying it here as north of Butler Boulevard, south of Atlantic Boulevard, east of University Boulevard and west of St. Johns Bluff Road.
Not surprisingly, Southside has a diverse mix of residential styles and offerings within its borders.
Neighborhood offerings range from working class, single-family homes to gated communities with all the amenities.
Young adults age 25 to 34 account for 27 percent of the area's population, while people age 65 and older account for 20 percent.
There are a host of retailers and restaurants in the area, and Regency Square and The Avenues malls are just a short 10- to 20-minute drive away. Easy access to the St. Johns River through tributaries such as Pottsburg Creek appeals to those interested in fishing and boating.
There is a great deal of renewed interest today in living in the historic district of Springfield. Many believe it has a lot to do with the charm of the beautiful homes. Touring one, as many people have done over the past few years, is like opening a yearbook of the city, circa the late 1800s. Windows, porches, staircases, attics, and fireplaces yield page after page of historical glimpses of Jacksonville's past.
New homes are being built that are architecturally compatible with the historic district's building guidelines for the area. A few of these homes that line Pearl Street look like rehabilitated homes, but they're new -- with many of the features people love in older-style homes, including the porches.
Beyond the crop of new historic-looking homes, some of the area's authentic homes, with rich histories behind them, are capturing people's attention. Popular styles include Florida vernacular, bungalow, Prairie and transitional Queen Anne/Colonial Revival.
In 1987, Springfield was selected as a National Register Historic District under federal criteria and recognized under federal law. Only two other areas in Jacksonville, Avondale and Riverside, hold the title. A historic gem worth revitalizing, Springfield contains one of the largest concentrations of residences dating from the early-1800s in Florida.
Copyright © 2005, Grahamsells.com All rights reserved.