Located on the Atlantic coast, Jacksonville, Florida, is a thriving port community with a well-diversified economy, a burgeoning population, and a vibrant city culture. The largest city in Florida, Jacksonville is also one of the most populous cities in the United States, with a total of 805,605 people in 2007. The city's greater metropolitan area has a population nearly double, and the city encompasses 874.3 square miles. Jacksonville is the second-largest operational U.S. port on the eastern coast.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Jacksonville consistently ranks with a cost of living much lower than the national average. Median household incomes hover slightly above the state average, at $48,699 in 2007, while median house values come in slightly below, at $180,900 in 2007. As a result, the outlying areas of the Jacksonville metropolitan area continue to experience steady growth. Despite a 2007 ranking as the 10th-fastest growing U.S. city, the city of Jacksonville aggressively and effectively monitors and manages its commercial and residential growth.
Jacksonville is a city comprising many distinct neighborhoods.
- The Northside area includes Dames Point, located near the airport, which is seeing a great deal of development, including strip malls, office parks and new homes. Dames Point features a wealth of waterfront property, Big and Little Talbot islands, as well as the Jacksonville zoo. The Dinsmor-Garden City area is largely rural and residential with a small community appeal, but maintains nearby highway access to more urban settings and shopping malls. The Gateway and Tallyrand areas contain some of the oldest properties in Jacksonville. Tallyrand is known for industry, but also hosts an annual music and arts festival. Marietta is popular with naturalists and is home to the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, abandoned railway lines converted into a trail for bikers and hikers. The landscape is dotted with farms, complete with horse pastures, grazing cows and other animals.
- Jacksonville's Southside area is as diverse as it is large. Baymeadows features golf courses, tennis courts, soccer fields and parks, with as many apartment complexes as gated communities. Residents are accustomed to the quality of life enjoyed by country-dwellers, along with all of the amenities of city life. Bayard is a district that features quaint antique shops tucked away inside a larger developing area. Deerwood Creek is the most upscale part of Southside, with gated golf communities, luxury condos and high-end apartments. The district has an abundance of office parks, with local access to a mall and a movie theater.
- The Westside district includes the Maxville area, pop. 3,000, with sprawling lots and forest trails traversed by horseback riders. The former cow pastures of the Normandy area are now largely a military community, in close proximity to the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Argyle is the most developed of the Westside communities, rife with shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, hospitals, and schools.
- Historic Downtown Jacksonville includes the Avondale area, with mansions dating from the roaring 20s, fashionable boutiques and gourmet restaurants. The San Marco area is home to a fine arts district, with galleries and theaters, and is peppered with small cafes.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Consistently ranked as one the best U.S. cities in which to do business, Jacksonville has a highly diversified economy, based on a blend of distribution, consumer goods, biomedical technology, manufacturing, financial services, and other industries. The Port of Jacksonville alone contributes more than $2 billion toward the northeastern Florida economy, with the city's primary imports being automobiles and coffee and its primary exports being lumber, wood pulp, and similar products. Jacksonville is also home to three military facilities, the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the Naval Station Mayport, and the Blout Island Command, a Marine Corps Logistics Base. The Winn-Dixie supermarket chain is headquartered in Jacksonville and so is CSX, the major rail and trucking company.
- St. Johns Town Center: Opening in 2005, the outdoor St. Johns Town Center covers 43 acres and includes more than three dozen upscale shops, an outdoor park, fine restaurants, and regular community events.
- Avenues Mall: A multilevel enclosed mall, the Avenues is anchored by Belk, Dillard's, JCPenney, Parisian, and Sears. The mall includes an additional 150 stores and restaurants.
- Regency Square Mall: The city's oldest enclosed mall, Regency Square has more than 170 stores, anchored by Old Navy, Belk, and Dillard's, as well as many restaurants and eateries.
- St. Augustine Premium Outlets: Located between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, the St. Augustine Premium Outlets center includes roughly 85 popular brand stores.
- Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens: The Cummer Museum has beautifully landscaped gardens and a diverse permanent art collection of more than 6,000 objects. It also houses a nationally recognized, hands-on art education center.
- Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville: The museum's permanent collection primarily spans the 1960s to the present, with close to 800 works of art, including painting, sculpture, photography, and more, from such artists as Hans Hoffman, Jules Olitski, and Joan Mitchell.
- Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: Home to more than 1,500 animals and more than 1,000 plants, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens offers a walking safari, botanical gardens, rotating exhibits, and train and carousel rides, as well as a native Florida wildlife habitat.
- Museum of Science and History: Located on the south bank of the city's Riverwalk, the Museum of Science and History houses exhibits on Jacksonville and Florida history as well as regional and marine wildlife, with many family-friendly and interactive displays.
- Riverwalk: A popular destination for residents and visitors alike, the Riverwalk stretches a mile along the north and south banks of the St. John's River as it winds through downtown Jacksonville. The Riverwalk is lined with restaurants, shops, museums, and hotels.
- Gate River Run: The city's largest participation athletic event of its kind, the Gate River Run is held every spring and draws some 15,000 recreational runners, supporters, and volunteers. The race is the nation's largest 15K and since 1994 has served as the U.S. National Championship race.
- Jacksonville Jazz Festival: The nation's second-largest festival of its kind, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival takes place every April and draws talent from around the world. Legendary performers have included Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Connick, Jr., and Al Jarreau.
- Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance: Hosted every March, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is an awards show for specialty and rare cars that draws nearly 10,000 spectators annually. Proceeds from the event help to support Community Hospice and other charities.
The city of Jacksonville has one major league sports team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, competing in the National Football League, and a number of minor league teams, including the Jacksonville Suns, a baseball team competing in the Southern League-Southern Division, and the Jacksonville Barracudas, a hockey team competing in the Southern Professional Hockey League. The city is also home to a number of college athletic teams.
Jacksonville is served by the major daily newspaper the Florida Times-Union, as well as the alternative daily the Daily Record. Popular local magazines are MetroJacksonville, Jacksonville Business Journal, and Jacksonville Magazine, among others.