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Jacksonville, Florida

Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers


Jacksonville, the commercial metropolis and social center of the State, is likely to be the first point at which the visitor to Florida will make anything of a stay—the place where be will get his first impressions of the "Land of Flowers." It is a handsome and prosperous-looking city, covering a good deal of ground, and, particularly during the winter season, when all the hotels are thrown open to the thronging guests, it presents an animated and picturesque appearance that is quite exceptional at the South. The streets are remarkably wide, and are nearly all shaded by long rows of mammoth live-oaks, forming arcades of embowering green in winter as well as in summer. Good sidewalks of brick or planks contribute greatly to the comfort of pedestrians, but the streets themselves are too sandy for rapid or pleasant driving, and are "heavy" for all vehicles.

Bay Street is the principal business thoroughfare, and runs parallel to and one block distant from the river. For a distance of about a mile -it is lined on both sides with stores, offices, and other mercantile buildings, including several of the leading hotels. The Astor Building, at the corner of Bay and Hogan Streets, is the finest in the city, and in it, besides several stores and a number of offices, is the United States Signal-Service station. Horse-cars, connecting the railroad -depots, run along Bay Street, up Catherine to Duval Street to the St. James Hotel, down Hogan Street and back to the starting-pint, making a very convenient circuit. On the river at the foot of Ocean Street is a fine public market, and there is a smaller one up-town at the corner of Hogan and Church Streets. M any of the shops make a specialty of "Florida curiosities" (the majority of them manufactured in New York), and connected with that of Damon Greenleaf, on Bay Street, is a " Museumenagerie," which will prove interesting to visitors, and the admission to which is free.

There is in the city a quite remarkable number of handsome residences, and with very few exceptions they are surrounded by ample grounds laid out in tasteful gardens and lawns. Sometimes these gardens are perfect little parks, and the fruits, flowers, and shrubs all indicate a semi-tropical region. The society of Jacksonville is universally admitted to be unusually select, cultured, and refined; and the reasons are not far to seek. Many of the most prominent citizens have been drawn thither from all parts of the country on account of its climatic advantages, and are in general the picked men of their several localities. At any gathering of the best society there will be found gentlemen who have occupied high positions in all portions of the United States, and in nearly all professions and occupations-in the army, the navy, the judicial, the political, literary, artistic, and commercial world. As examples, I may mention that General Spinner, he of the famous greenback autograph, owns a beautiful home here, whither he has retired to enjoy the well-deserved comforts of an honored old age; and that judge Thomas Settle, of the United States Circuit Court, the original of Judge Denton in "The Fool's Errand," has another fine residence. During the winter season the great hotels (the St. James, the Windsor, the Carleton, the National, etc.) are thronged with wealthy tourists from all parts of the world, and the place has then all the gayety and animation of a leading summer resort at the North.

Situated on the left bank of the St. John's, at the point where that noble river makes a sharp bend to the east, the city presents a very attractive appearance from the water, and from its higher points commands a pleasing outlook upon the stream and its low-lying opposite shore. Its situation is a very favorable one for commerce, and its trade is very extensive, particularly in lumber, the preparation of which gives employment to a number of large sawmills. Nearly all the railroad and steamer lines of the State center at Jacksonville, and immense quantities of fruit and early vegetables, as well as of cotton and sugar, are shipped thence to Northern and foreign ports.

With what are known as the "modern conveniences" the city is well supplied. It is lighted with gas, has an excellent system of water-works drawing the water from artesian wells, and has recently been provided with an effective system of sewers. The public schools are well organized and in successful operation; there are a circulating library and a free reading-room; Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Catholic churches; banks, public halls, newspapers, and telegraphic connection with all parts of the United States. According to the census of 1880, the resident population was 14,500, and the rate of growth has been and is very rapid. When Florida shall have achieved what now appears to be her "manifest destiny," Jacksonville will be one of the great commercial and industrial centers of the country.

Excerpt from "Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers" by George M. Barbour. Published 1882 by D. Appleton and Company, New York.


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