by Max Marbut
Whether behind the wheel or on foot, we use the streets to navigate around Downtown. The road map of the neighborhood also tells some of Jacksonville’s story.
Some street names reflect American history. Others memorialize the people of Jacksonville’s earliest days when the city began to change from a small settlement near a spot where cattle could safely cross the St. Johns River into what it is today.
Shortly after Florida was transferred to the United States from Spain in July 1821, Isaiah Hart arrived in Cow Ford, as the area was known at the time. It didn’t take long before he came up with the idea of laying out a town site.
In 1822, Hart and his neighbor, John Brady, had what historical accounts reveal as “lively discussions and debates” about the plan.
Hart and Brady accepted L.Z. Hogan’s suggestion that the survey should begin at a “fine old bay tree” that stood at the foot of the present Market Street. It is generally accepted that’s how Bay Street got its name.
A rope was tied around the tree and the first streets and blocks were laid out.
Duval Street, like the county, was named for William Pope DuVal, the first Territorial Governor of Florida.
One theory behind “Ocean” street is that since the land was surveyed in June, it was the rainy season. The entire area north of the river was somewhat swampy to begin with and may have been flooded, appearing to be a body of water rather than solid land.
It is also speculated that the street may have been originally named “Ossian” after one of Isaiah Hart’s sons who would later become the first native-born governor of Florida during reconstruction following the Civil War.
Hart also had daughters named Julia and Laura.
James Monroe was president of the United States when the town was founded. John Quincy Adams was Monroe’s secretary of state and would eventually become president.
Forsyth Street was named for Gen. John Forsyth, who was U.S. Minister to Spain while Monroe was president and the person who brokered the deal for the Spanish government to transfer ownership of Florida to the United States.
Daniel Newnan, a colonel in the Army, was a well-known figure in the area.
Prominent families, landowners and developers also had streets named after them, including Hogan, Davis and Hendricks, the family that first settled in and owned most of what we today call the Southbank.
The 20th century brought many changes to Jacksonville, particularly the 1950s when the city changed from being known for lumber and shipping into becoming recognized as a center for business and finance.
In 1955, executives from the New Jersey-based Prudential Insurance Company came to town and opened their new corporate headquarters for the southern central region.
Now known as the “Aetna Building,” the 22-story Prudential Building was the tallest office building in the South when it opened on the Southbank.
City officials decided that was significant enough for the building’s address to be on Prudential Drive.
We can thank the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and its building for Coastline Drive, now home to CSX.
Asa Philip Randolph was a champion of the civil rights movement and is credited with organizing the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, one of the first labor unions to represent the black working class. A. Philip Randolph Boulevard was originally named Florida Avenue and was part of Jacksonville’s civil rights story in the 1960s.
If you know a story behind a street name, we’d like to hear about it and share it with our readers.
The boards of directors of Baptist Health and Wolfson Children’s Hospital appointed children’s health care administrator Michael Aubin as hospital president for Wolfson Children’s Hospital effective Jan. 1.
The hospital is part of the Baptist campus on the Downtown Southbank.
Aubin was founding administrator and chief operating officer for St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital of Tampa. St. Joseph’s is part of BayCare Health System.
Aubin will follow Larry Freeman, who recently retired after more than 34 years as head of Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
Aubin will work with physicians and administrators with hospital partners Nemours Children’s Clinic, the University of Florida College of Medicine/Jacksonville and Mayo Clinic Florida.
Baptist Health leaders said Aubin was chosen after a nationwide search for a hospital president.
“I am looking forward to working with the visionary leaders both at Baptist Health and in the community that have taken children’s health to its current state and helping lead it to the next level of excellence,” said Aubin.
Baptist Health is a faith-based, mission-driven system consisting of Baptist Medical Center Downtown and Baptist Heart Hospital; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
Wolfson is a 194-bed pediatric referral hospital serving the children of North Florida, Southeast Georgia and beyond.
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