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10 Things You Might Want to Know about Jacksonville
Jacksonville is a city in northeast Florida on the St. Johns River. It is a leading seaport of the southeastern United States. On Oct. 1, 1968, Jacksonville annexed most of Duval county and absorbed its governmental functions. The city is governed by a mayor and council. Here are 10 facts about Jacksonville:
1. With an area of 840 square miles (2,176 sq km) -of which 74 square miles (192 sq km) are inland water, extending eastward to the Atlantic Ocean- it is the second-largest U.S. city (next to Juneau, Alaska) and the most populous in Florida. It has a population of 836,507 (2012).
2. Jacksonville is one of the major manufacturing, processing, and distributing centers of the South, and the financial center of Florida. Its chief industries include the manufacture or processing of paper and pulpwood, machinery and building products, cigars, drugs, food, fertilizer, furniture, cement, and beer. It also has printing and publishing enterprises. A branch of the Federal Reserve Bank is located in the city, and there are several home and regional offices of national insurance companies.
3. During World War II the U.S. Navy commissioned the Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Cecil Field, an auxiliary station there. An aircraft carrier base was constructed at Mayport near the St. Johns River jetties. A second auxiliary air station and a destroyer base were added to the naval installations.
4. Throughout its history Jacksonville has played an important role as a transportation center. The King's Road, Florida's first highway, constructed in the 1760s, crossed the St. Johns River at the site of Jacksonville. The city continues to be a transportation hub. The Jacksonville Expressway Authority, created in 1955, supervises a network of freeways and seven bridges crossing the St. Johns and Trout rivers. In October 1968 the international airport began operations north of the city. At the same time a port development program was begun.
5. Inadequate housing and insufficient job opportunities were basic causes of rioting in Jacksonville in the summer of 1966. In that year the city enacted its first minimum housing code. In 1967, Greater Jacksonville Economic Opportunity, Inc., received a federal grant to operate Pilot City, a neighborhood improvement experiment. The Mayor's Employment Committee, created in August 1967, and Jobs for Jacksonville, set up in January 1968, sought to resolve social and economic problems.
6. Florida Junior College (public), Jacksonville University (private), the University of North Florida (public), and Jones and Edward Waters colleges (private) are in the city. Haydon Burns Public Library contains an important collection on state and local history, and the Cummer Gallery of Art has a notable collection of European, American, and Oriental art and furniture. The Jacksonville Art Museum, Children's Museum, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and Friday Musicale are features of the community's cultural life. The Jacksonville Jaguars professional football team plays its home games at EverBank Field in the city.
7. Fort Caroline National Monument marks the site of a French settlement in 1564. The Confederate Monument, dedicated in 1898, is in the city's Hemming Park. Confederate Park, which marks the eastern edge of the Confederate trenches in the area during the Civil War, contains monuments to Confederate women and to the Scottish poet Robert Burns. The War Memorial Fountain, designed by Adrian Pillars, stands in Memorial Park.
8. Jacksonville offers many attractions for visitors, including the Greater Jacksonville Golf Open, the Gator Bowl football classic, parimutuel dog racing, beach facilities (especially at the communities of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, and Atlantic Beach), the Coliseum, and the Civic Auditorium.
9. The St. Johns River, the most important waterway in Florida, attracted Spanish, French, and English explorers and colonizers to the Jacksonville region in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The city, called Cowford, was founded in 1822, the year after the Territory of Florida was established. It was renamed for Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of the territory, and was incorporated in 1832.
10. Jacksonville was occupied by Northern forces four times during the Civil War, and much of it was destroyed. Because of its favorable location and temperate climate, however, it recovered rapidly and emerged by 1880 as the state's leading industrial and tourist city. During the Spanish-American War, Jacksonville was the site of a large army training camp. In 1901 a disastrous fire destroyed 147 city blocks, but again the city was rebuilt quickly. Most of its expansion has come since 1940.