Twenty-five miles south of the border with Georgia, Jacksonville straddles the St. Johns River and touches the beaches of Florida’s popular First Coast area.
3570 Clifford Lane Jacksonville, FL 32209
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|100 Long Term Parking Spaces||100 Short Term Parking Spaces||ATM|
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- Silver Meteor
- Silver Star
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
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The contemporary brick Amtrak station opened in early 1974 and is located between downtown and the airport. Since the late 2000s, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) have discussed a plan to relocate Amtrak service to the former Jacksonville Union Station in the LaVilla neighborhood.
After the historic Beaux-Arts station closed to train passengers in the early 1970s, it was rehabilitated to house the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center. The joint JTA and FDOT vision includes a fully integrated multimodal transportation facility built adjacent to the convention center that would accommodate intercity passenger rail, possible commuter rail, and local, regional, and intercity busses. Such a regional intermodal center would cost approximately $180 million; however, the funding sources have not yet been identified.
Twenty-five miles south of the border with Georgia, subtropical Jacksonville straddles the St. Johns River and touches the beaches of Florida’s First Coast area. Though Native Americans had occupied the territory from prehistoric times, first the Spanish and then the French came to settle this coastal region in the 1500s, when French Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault charted the St. Johns River. In 1791, the English settlement of Cowford was founded in the area that would become Jacksonville, as it provided a narrow spot on the river that allowed cattle to cross. In 1822, a year after Spain ceded Florida to the United States; the city was renamed for the first military governor of Florida, General Andrew Jackson, who would later become the seventh U.S. president. A group of Jacksonville settlers led by Isaiah D. Hart presented a town charter to the Florida legislature, which approved it on February 9, 1832.
Hoping to boost trade and promote development of Florida, which had only been admitted as a state in 1845, the legislature chartered the Florida Atlantic and Gulf Central Railroad (GA&GC) in 1851. As the name implies, the original backers envisioned a line connecting Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The first phase of the project would connect the port of Jacksonville with inland Alligator Town, later known as Lake City. Under the leadership of Fr. Abel Seymour Baldwin, the company gained sufficient financial support from the state, city of Jacksonville, Columbia County and private investors to complete a line survey and then initiate construction in early 1856.
Although the path of the GA&GC was relatively flat, progress in laying track was slow, and the sixty miles between Jacksonville and Alligator Town were not finished until March 1860. During the Civil War, Jacksonville was a key Confederate supply point for hogs and cattle. Though it was blockaded by Union forces and changed hands several times, no battles were fought there. However, war left the city in disarray, and caused extensive damage to the GA&GC. The railroad changed hands several times in the postwar years until it became part of the Seaboard Air Line Railway in the early 20th century.
During the Reconstruction era and the late 1800s, Jacksonville and St. Augustine, as with other north Florida towns on the St. Johns River, became popular winter resorts for the rich and famous. Visitors arrived by steam boat and later by railroad. However, extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad south, together with outbreaks of yellow fever in the area, dealt serious blows to tourism of that era.
On May 3, 1901, downtown Jacksonville was ravaged by a fire that started in a fiber factory. The “Great Fire of 1901” was one of the worst disasters in Florida history and the largest urban fire ever in the southeast, destroying the business district and rendering 10,000 residents homeless in the course of eight hours. It is said that the glow from the fire was seen as far away as Savannah, Georgia and the smoke seen in Raleigh, North Carolina. To repair the damage, more than 13,000 buildings were constructed afterwards between 1901 and 1912.
In the early twentieth century, New York movie-makers took to Jacksonville’s warm climate and exotic location, making it the “Winter Film Capital,” as more than 50 silent movies were made there until Hollywood took over as premiere filming location. One converted movie studio, Norman Studios, remains in Arlington. It has been converted to the Jacksonville Silent Film Museum at Norman Studios.
With the construction of three naval bases near Jacksonville during the 1940s, the U.S. Navy became a major source of employment in the area—and this trend continues today. The city saw much growth after World War II, but as with other large cities of that era, Jacksonville suffered from the effects of postwar urban sprawl. In order to combat the exodus that left the city center without tax dollars for renewal and renovation, the city annexed and consolidated with outlying suburbs repeatedly. Consequently, Jacksonville today is the largest city in the United States in terms of land area and the largest in Florida in terms of population. While it is the seat of Duval County, Jacksonville actually covers almost all of the county’s land area.
Jacksonville is also the largest deepwater seaport in the south, as well as the second-largest seaport on the U.S. East Coast and a leading port for automobile imports. Overall, the economy is well-distributed amongst financial services, biomedical technology, consumer goods, information services, manufacturing, insurance and other civilian industries.
Of military presence, only Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego are larger. The locale is home to the Naval Submarine Bases Kings Bay, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport and the Blount Island Marine Corps Logistics Base. The Florida Air National Guard is also based at Jacksonville International Airport.
Amtrak provides both ticketing and baggage services at this facility, which is served by four daily trains.