Some say Jacksonville is a diamond that wants to stay coal. What if Jacksonville was a city that didn’t hate itself… run by people who recognized its accomplishments?
Here are some events that might have happened in New York, Rome, London, Paris, Seattle or San Francisco if the leaders who made them great cities had received our city and our history.
The Southern Music Hall of Fame would be open and packed somewhere downtown. Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers would have exhibits there and all music aficionados would know a history of Southern music and the Jacksonville music scene.
A statue of Ray Charles is said to stand in the popular and perfectly preserved bar where he first performed soul piano and blues in the South.
There would be a statue to Don Estridge, the father of the modern PC, graduate Bishop Kenny whose work literally transformed the entire planet and whose ideas for open source coding are still revolutionary.
There would be another Black Film Museum commemorating the achievements of black filmmakers here in Jacksonville.
Local businesses Peterbrooke, The Loop Pizza, and the Burrito Gallery would all have gigantic headquarters in the downtown area that rivaled the Preston Haskell building on Riverside Avenue. There would be queues for tours from Sally Corporation.
Blaire Woolverton would co-host his own cable show with Shawana Brooks and Jake Godbold would have a cookbook.
Ray Mason would have an institute where international finance and the principles of Arab trade would be taught, studied and debated. People would know who Raymond Mason was and have no idea who the latest scheming developer was.
When the Jacksonville Film Festival opened each year, Josh Skierski and Chad Hendricks would be the emcees and Rita Manyette would be the hostess for the gala.
Mandarin is said to have a tram tour of the famous writers who have lived there over the past century. And even whites would know that Zora Neale Hurston lived here.
People would know who Zora Neale Hurston was.
People would be patriotic about Maxwell House. There would be a series of successful cafes all over town.
Jacksonville Tars and the Jacksonville Red Cap return jerseys from the Negro League are reportedly available at any local sporting goods store.
Matt Carlucci would have been mayor and John Peyton would be president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Lenny Curry is said to have been a car salesman in Green Cove Springs.
There would be a riverside maritime museum celebrating the many nautical elements of Jacksonville’s history.
Old Stanton is said to be a music conservatory that offered a scholarship in the name of “Lift every Voice and Sing” author James Weldon Johnson.
The River City Band would be housed there.
The Jewish Center and cemetery would have signs on bridges and highways to highlight the gigantic and cultural effect Jews had on Jacksonville, a tolerant and welcoming home unexpectedly in a time and country that they encountered everywhere else. with fear and disgust.
Jazz musician Noel Freidline is said to be a wealthy man with a big jazz club he owned somewhere on the Riverwalk.
The talented Jason Woods would have a season of funded and functional theater based on the Florida Theater and would be announced by our tourist board.
The Marabanong House is said to be a famous historical part of the Jacksonville tour.
Someone would have said “Thank you” to John Currington for resuscitating San Marco.
Or Lex hester.
There would be a monument and possibly a college marking the landing of the Protestant French Huguenots, and you could buy well documented books on their history here.
There would be reenactments of pirate mower attacks on the Ortega River, and locals would brag about which French or English pirate they were descending from.
The Great Black Way would have curio shops and little plastic bubbles with glitter swirling around Duke Ellington and Billy Holiday performing at the Ritz, and Klutho’s railing would be lit up at night so lovers could walk past the moonlit canal on along Hogan’s Creek.
There would be bronze statues of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bill Pickett (the famous black cowboy from Norman Studios in Arlington), Tom Mix and Oliver Hardy (from Laurel and Hardy) on the Riverwalk instead of the jogger. clumsy ?
There would be a big barbecue festival on Main Street every year and people would come from miles around to discover over a hundred million recipes for baby back ribs and collard greens.
This would create an interesting and colorful course that would teach our history and city issues and require it to be taught to all grade 7 students.
The architecture would not need to be studied from old postcards and books with black and white photos crossed out with the word “demolished” stamped on them.
Adding to corporate scrapers due to the less restrictive city policy, the urban population would have grown faster and would make Jacksonville the number one city in Florida, if not the Southeast.
Sports venues would have been integrated into the urban fabric allowing neighboring establishments to feed off the activity.
The surrounding neighborhoods would all be linked to the core via a comprehensive network of suburban, tram or skyway lines.
Visitors to the city are said to have a plethora of ways to find signs leading to attractions, parking lots and neighborhoods.
There would be a permanent exhibition of Joseph La Rose’s shoes at Town Hall or perhaps LaVilla School of the Arts and students would host John Fluevog shoe design contests each year.
Jacksonville’s Kona Skatepark would have road signs for all freeways. The city is said to have invested in the infrastructure surrounding the legendary park. Martin Ramos would have the keys to the city. Each championship competition would be televised on local stations.
Liz Straight, Al Letson, David Pugh, Allan Justiss, Jon Reich, Valerie Anthony, Christina Wagner, Lee Harvey and Ian Mairs are said to be household names. The mayor would know them all and they could make a living from speaking engagements.
But we don’t have these things.
They are too “low end”, too “black” and too “southern”.
Instead, we have consultants telling us how to be more like Indianapolis or Louisville.
If we wanted to be Indianapolis or some other place …
But we don’t have a “Jacksonville”.