Getting to Know Jacksonville
Situated on the banks of the Saint Johns River, Jacksonville is the state's largest city and the commercial hub of northeast Florida. The peaceful Timucua Indians were the area's first inhabitants. But it wasn't until 1822 that settlers founded Jacksonville on the banks of the Saint Johns River.
During the Civil War, the city acted as the main Confederate port for timber, cotton, and citrus fruit from the surrounding area. Union soldiers occupied it four times, destroying the port. It took until 1883 when the railroads connected it to other parts of the state for it to recover. It was then that the wealthy made it the vacation capital of the United States, serving as the gateway to warm spring health spas, steamboat cruises on the Saint Johns River, hunting and fishing at sports resorts, and magnificent Victorian hotels at broad, sandy beaches.
During the late nineteenth century, Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler spent his second honeymoon on a steamboat trip up the Saint Johns River. He fell in love with Florida and saw the potential to make a fortune through development. He became obsessed with his dream, financing a coastal railroad and resort hotel chain from Jacksonville to Key West.
Skyscrapers now soar above the Saint Johns River. Universities, museums, and art galleries give Jacksonville a sophisticated aura that reflects its wealth. But unlike the wealthier resort towns farther south, it doesn't flaunt it but welcomes the average family to its sites.