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chelleyfl

State of the 'Arts' in Jacksonville?

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Hi everyone. I just discovered this forum today and I find it very enlightening. I grew up in Atlantic Beach and recently moved to Central Florida. During the past five years or so I've worked in places like Chicago and Boston for months at a time. I'm considering moving back to Jacksonville but I'm a little apprehensive. Where would I find the best overall cultural experience? This would include things like racial/ethnic diversity - and the restaurants that grow from that, performing arts theaters, nightlife (I used to love Juice N Java, anything along that line anywhere in Jax now?), independent book stores with a cozy/funky atmosphere, etc. In Boston I also fell in love with the BCAE - a nonprofit that sponsors classes to the public for a small fee. Some are one-night classes, some last for several weeks. It's a great way to learn something new and meet people at the same time. A few of the classes I took were - cooking with herbs, wine tasting, Greek lit, and a creative writing. Does anywhere in Jax offer an adult education center, aside from the colleges?

I know where some bohemian areas are but they seem like small pockets that are few and far between. I haven't actually been to Jax to explore for a while but I will soon. In the meantime I was hoping you all could tell me about the current state of the arts in Jax.

Thanks!

Oh I forgot to mention - pedestrian-friendly is important too = mixed use developments with good use of public green space.

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First let me say that Jacksonville doesn't have the type of bohemian scene that one would find in Boston or Chicago, but there are spots. The two obvious places in Jacksonville that I would recommend is Five Points and Springfield. Both are pedestrian friendly, littered with parks (although Springfield's parks aren't properly maintained) and attracting new mixed use developments. Five Points also is located along the St. Johns River.

Imo, since Five Points is starting to "yuppie-fie", Springfield and specifically.... Main Street is well on its way to becoming the spot. The city has plans to finish streetscaping Main, from 4th St to 12th, later this year and several mixed-use loft projects are in the pipeline (ex. 3rd & Main, 15 West Sixth, 8th & Pearl).

Also, in the last couple of years, several local restaurants and nightlife establishments have opened along Main (ex. Henrietta's, Carl's Main Street, Epicurean Cafe, Boomtown Theater, Main Street Bakery) and more are on the way (ex. The Pearl, Springfield Tavern).

As critical mass begins to form from infill projects, Main is well on its way to becoming the walkable and lively street it was 80 years ago.

Here's a link to an recent newspaper article that discusses this issue.

http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._19381403.shtml

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Thanks for the info. I had guesssed Springfield would be mentioned, and that's the first area I'll check out. I read the article as well and I can say that I for one didn't appreciate Five Points all the years that I lived in Jax and now unfortunately, it's kind of too late. It was only after going to other major cities did I realize the beauty of urban living. I think Jacksonville has the natural beauty to rival any major US city (the beaches, the St. Johns river, parks, etc). but I think a lot of people overlook it because they don't really identify the city with anything in particular. I would love to see Jax pull out of that.

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Yes, I believe that Jax's main problem is that it really doesn't have an identity, although I believe focusing on the river and promoting its history, as well as maintaining its urban park space could easily create one.

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chelleyfl: Dont give up on Riverside. While it is gentrifying, it also has much affordable housing yet now has the amenities which Springfield lacks. I love Springfield too, it is just behind us a little in the development curve. I always have some apartments for rent too. ;)

As for the arts, we have the Cummer Museum in Riverside. There is the new Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art downtown on Laura and Hemming Park and adjacent to the soon to open new Library. There are also various art galleries throughout Riverside, Springfield, downtown and San Marco. Of course we dont have the attractions yet of cities many times larger, but I think we do quite well for our size.

As to our natural setting, I have been all over the world and I find Jacksonville to be one of the best natural settings anywhere. It really is a beautiful place. Come on back home.

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Thanks for the feedback RiversideGator. I'll check out the museum you mentioned. Libraries help build a city's character too so I'll be interested to see the new one. I learned an interesting tidbit about Jacksonville the other day - it has the largest dog park in the country. I don't have a dog but it sounds like a pretty good way to conserve green space.

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As I was signing onto the urban planet tonight I happened to see a catchy link to "I think I've fallen in love"... from Boston. And imagine my surprise at the author!!! Great pics Lakelander.

Well as you can probably imagine, this Jacksonville girl experienced spatial shock and culture shock when I first went to Boston. The houses are close, the streets are tight and meandering, etc. When I asked for directions anywhere people would tell me how long it takes to walk to my destination. How odd I thought... but in time I learned that traffic is so bad that you can usually get around faster if you walk. But it's a beautiful historic city - and I was quite spoiled by all the architecture, food, arts... I could walk out my front door and in 10 minutes be in Chinatown, the theater district, Dowtown Crossing, or the North End; and it was a 15 min walk through the Commons and Beacon Hill to get to work. Loved that! I still work in Boston (I'm here now actually) but after 5 years up here I started to miss the wide open feel of Jax. I think density is important but there is such a thing as too close - that's also why I'm such a big fan of green space - it calms the spirit. If the Boston Commons didn't exist I think people around here would be crazier than they already are. If nothing else I hope Jacksonville continues to value its beautiful parks - such an asset. In any case it looks like you're enjoying yourself in Beantown!

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I greatly enjoyed myself in Boston. Although that city doesn't have much park space, it does great with what it does have. The Commons is one of the most impressive urban parks that I've seen. I would love to see Jacksonville's Klutho/Springfield/Confederate Parks restored to bring that type of scene to Jax.

Plans are underway to rebuild the jogging path running parallel to these parks. Here's a good site to learn more about the park separating Springfield from Downtown.

www.downtownparks.com

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Great information, I learned a lot about the historical signficance of those parks in regard to - Civil War, Spanish American War, Civil Rights Movement. These days there is such a sense of loss about the fact that Jacksonville hasn't preserved more of its historical buildings - but I hope in 10 or 20 years we aren't saying the same about its parks. They are in my opinion essential to the quality of life in an urban setting. If I do move back to the area I'm sure there will be ways to volunteer to clean up these parks - I'll look into that.

So getting back to my theme about the arts - I was a bit sad to learn that Boomtown is moving from Spingfield (under the downtown Jacksonville thread). I'll look forward to visiting their new location though. That's exactly the kind of interactive/edgy artistic venue I was looking for. My considerations for where I re-locate have a whole lot to do with where I can find an environment that supports its artists. From the account at Urban Jacksonville it seems like Boomtown was fairly pushed out by the real estate issues at its current location. I know business is business, but if a neighborhood is trying to assert itself as the 'place to be' shouldn't it look for ways to keep it's established neighborhood joints... instead of practically running them off? (Might be more appropriate for the Springfield thread).

P.S. I hope I'm not alone in thinking that urban life is just where you live and work... to me it's also the process of creating bonds with the PEOPLE who live and work together, and to me arts/entertainment/food/ etc create that connection between the people.

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Boomtown's real estate issues evolved because of a bad land lord and they outgrew their space. I'm also saddened by their decision to relocate to downtown, but Main and 8th Streets, in Springfield, will continue to grow into the spot you described.

You can use this link to learn more about Boomtown's decision to relocate.

http://www.sparcouncil.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=79

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Also, in the last couple of years, several local restaurants and nightlife establishments have opened along Main (ex. Henrietta's, Carl's Main Street, Epicurean Cafe, Boomtown Theater, Main Street Bakery) and more are on the way (ex. The Pearl, Springfield Tavern).

Does anyone have contact info for The Pearl? Been hunting online but coming up empty, appreciate any help!

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