Back in 1901, a dreadful fire took the majority of a then bustling Jacksonville down. The fire started in a candle factory and moved into a mattress factory, where highly flammable moss and cotton encouraged flames to take down the entire city. The fire is now referred to as “the great fire,” and many have said that downtown Jacksonville has never since been the hub that it was once destined to be.
The only building in the downtown area to withstand the flames is the St. Andrews Episcopal Church, which stands close-by the current stadium area and now functions as more of a community center.
A recent initiative to bring more people downtown uses Jacksonville’s history in an interesting way. As you make your way down the Riverwalk near the landing or enjoy a night around town, like art walk, you may see posters saying “downtown is on fire.” This is a campaign to let people know all that is going on in Jacksonville, reminding people of the history that happened on the very blocks that they can now walk through safely to enjoy a night of music, fine dining and other sources of entertainment.
What are the goals for “downtown is on fire?”
The campaign says it best. Here is what they have to say for themselves:
“Downtown is on fire is an initiative made by people who have a flame for downtown. Our goal is to provide the resources for residents to explore the heart of our city, and rediscover why downtown is Jacksonville’s original hot spot.”
So what does this campaign hope to accomplish? Anything that helps to rejuvinate the downtown area. This means encouraging people to get downtown, opening up new stores and restaurants, sponsoring events that bring people into the area—if it will help you get downtown, this campaign is in support of it.
And the truth is, there is a lot going on downtown. Property sales in Jacksonville’s downtown area are incredibly affordable, and there are plenty of rental opportunities too. Shops, restaurants and more are making their way into the downtown area at rising rates. If you haven’t been downtown in a while, make a point to head down there soon. You might be surprised by all the changes you see!