Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Final Impressions of Jax

I am heading back to California this weekend, so it's time to review my date with Jacksonville. Here are some observations...

Abbreviated – Locals don't say Jacksonville. They say Jax. Strangely, using the nickname immediately boosted my fondness for the place.

– I find it puzzling that I couldn’t get a direct flight to Jax when it’s the most populous city in Florida (1.4 million) and the 12th largest in the US. What gives? Perhaps Orlando, two hours away and home to a certain mouse house, has stolen its thunder?

Spread Out
– I thought LA was a sprawl, but Jax eclipses it. An oft-cited factoid is that it’s largest city in the US by land mass. Fortunately, you can take a major interstate highway (95 runs N/S; 10 runs E/W) to nearly every corner, though, so getting around is easy.

– Jax has many different sides. A sleek, riverfront downtown with high-rise towers. Older neighborhoods with live oaks and Spanish moss. Vanilla suburbs. Beach towns both tattered and upscale. Backcountry creeks and swamps. Very hard to generalize.

Large Middle Class
– From what I’ve seen, the low cost of living, diversified economy and abundance of affordable, decent housing makes for a thriving middle class here.

Militarized – With a Naval Air Station, a Naval Ship Base and a Marine Base, Jax has the third largest military presence after Norfolk, Virginia, and San Diego, California. The military is the largest employer and contributes $6.1 billion to the economy here.

Damn Cold – Jax is supposed to have a humid subtropical climate. Ha! It’s been in the 30s, 40s and 50s the last month due to the cold front sweeping the East Coast. Everyone says this is highly unusual, but it shows North Florida is affected by continental weather.

– As I mentioned in my last post, you’re not in Jax if you don’t see water. Thus, driving over countless bridges is a daily experience. One of the city’s nicknames is “Home of Seven Bridges,” as there are seven iconic bridges crossing the wide St. Johns River.

As for our chemistry, I'd have to rate it as purely platonic. No sparks. No signs of a future together. But that's okay. I have more dates lined up. Next up is Austin, Texas, the first weekend of March, and I'll admit - I already have butterflies.

1 comment:

Airborne dad said...

Thanks for stopping by Jax. Your post was picked up by Google this a.m. for its reference to the St. Johns River.

I wish I had known you were coming and I could have taken you on a tour (for free). Jacksonville is home to the largest urban park system in the nation with its gateway the Timucuan Trail State and National Parks. We have more than 135 sq. mi. of park space here, most of it natural areas. The list of parks is too long to post here. See

You are right about two things:

It's hard to get here. A trip to Jax. means a visit to Atlanta or Charlotte in most cases.

And the winter weather is highly unpredictable. We've had three mild winters leading to this one (it's 19 this a.m.). Even the mouse got clobbered with this arctic blast.

Next time you are in the area, give us a call and we will show you the real Jacksonville.