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Metro242

Relatively New to Jacksonville

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Hey, allow me to introduce myself before I get to my question. My name is Jay, and I moved to Jacksonville around eight months ago after I finished college at Florida State. It was a larger city with good employment opportunity and it was located on the coast, so the decision was pretty easy for me.

My question however, is what is the deal with Jacksonville's massive lack of self confidence? It's so widespread that it makes me feel like I should be embarassed to live here, even though I am most certainly not. Is there any particular reason for this?

When I read local coverage of the Super Bowl, planned new developments or the influx of high end retailers to the St. John's Town Center, the media and the people I talk to almost talk like the city is getting away with something when it attracts some of the perks that larger cities do and is nervously waiting for someone to catch the mistake and take those things away to be redistributed to cities like Tampa or Orlando.

It's baffling to me. As an outsider, I saw the second nicest skyline in Florida (behind Miami) when I moved here, and the lighting of the bridges has only widened the margins. I saw a city with nicer beaches that were closer than any other metro city in Florida aside from Miami. I saw genuinely nice areas on all sides of town, a respectable airport, a strong Naval presence, proximity to St. Augustine, an NFL franchise, new stadiums, a few major colleges, a ton of new development, amazing parks, a ton of entertainment options and too many other benefits to list. Moving from Tallahassee, I honestly felt like I was moving into the place to be in the next ten years in Florida...

..and then I heard the locals talking. I honestly don't understand why everyone here is so paranoid about what the city doesn't have. It's made me feel like Jacksonville isn't that great at times, and though I rebound from the persuasion, it's still really unfortunate.

The Florida Times Union doesn't help matters at all. The paper was an embarassment during Super Bowl week, and instead of celebrating the fact that our beautiful town actually had the biggest event on the planet, it offered endless coverage-of-the-coverage of the Super Bowl, saying "We don't care what you think about our city" and then writing 500 words of pathetically "not caring" ranting and raving. We let ourselves get bullied by the visiting media, and it was sad. Instead of celebrating what we do have, the local media turned the theme of the Super Bowl into "We don't know if we will ever get it again so enjoy it!".

And then when the St. John's Town Center opened, the local media painted the entire town out as blithering yokels who got a SHOPPING MALL and now suddenly feel like they are in ("somewhere actually good") like Atlanta or Orlando. "I woke up and felt like I was in Orlando said a 90 year old woman trying on an expensive pair of designer sunglasses". I can' speak for the rest of the town, but I want to be the FIRST Jacksonville, not the next Orlando or Atlanta or anywhere, because they sure as hell don't have the St. John's River cutting through their skylines or endless miles of beautiful beachfront. With one million residents, a blossoming downtown, an NFL franchise and thousands of things most other cities can't claim, I wish the media would just be happy with what we have.

Am I way off base, or is the problem with Jacksonville having a lot of trouble attracting high paying jobs almost a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts where the city mopes around feeling like the redheaded stepbrother of Tampa, Miami and Orlando and subsequently, a lot of companies and individuals just shrug and agree with us.

Anyway, any input on this would be appreciated, because at least to me, a new guy in town, it seems like the attitude of most of Jacksonville is the main barrer standing in the way of becoming a premiere growth city like Phoenix.

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amen, as for me i love jacksonville and take pride in it, some citizens may be apprehensive about whats to come or what we have but im proud of it and think we are our own unique city that shouldnt be compared to atlanta and especially not orlando. overall i think most jacksonville residents take pride in our city and love it, if anyone is embarresed to live here they should move out. having lived here for 7 years i cant think of why anyone would be. it is probably just media ranting and ignorance that has created your image of what we think about our town, its a problem that needs to be fixed because im sure youre not the only one who feels that this is the was we feel about our city. but anyway as far as i know the majority of us are not embarrased. and if an illusion has been created by a few 90 year olds and others who arent used to new luxuries that come with growth then i apologize for the mix up.

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I certainly agree that the attitude of Jacksonville's citizenry is a major impediment to the city's growth. I tend to get upset at the "small town" or "faux-rural" mindset of people here. Since we try to run our city like a small town, all our growth gets pushed out into the boondocks, and most attempts to densify with quality infill projects or sensible infrastructure are summarily quashed.

Obviously I have lots of complaints about how Jacksonville is run, but I love the city itself.

However, over time, I've made an interesting observation about residents who hate Jacksonville (i.e. the one's who are always talking about how boring and smalltown it is, or conversely, the ones who complain about how it is too big and congested). These people somehow always seem to live out in the suburbs, miles from the heart of town! Most people I know from San Marco, Riverside, Oretga, Avondale, even Springfield, all love Jacksonville. It's the people (especially young people) who live out in Arlington, Westside, Clay county, and the gated communities of the Southside and St. John's county who all tend to have a negative outlook on our city. To me, it makes a great deal of sense that the people most isolated from our city tend to feel most negative about it.

Along those lines, I think it makes sense why lots of people lack "self-confidence" in the city. Jacksonville has grown massively in the past few decades, yet most of that growth has been relatively faceless, generic "suburban sprawl" type developments. Take Gainesville for example. It's something like a fifth the size of Jax, yet from a suburbanite's perspective, it already has all the stuff we do. It has the same Publix, Outback, Bonefish, Wendys, and so forth. Granted, we have five times more locations, but they already have all the same stores.

For someone who never bothers to take advantage of our great downtown, the river, the ocean, and our fantastic local restaurants, and chose to live the majority of their day emersed in strip malls and 6 lane traffic jams, I can see why they would be pessimistic.

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Hey, allow me to introduce myself before I get to my question. My name is Jay, and I moved to Jacksonville around eight months ago after I finished college at Florida State. It was a larger city with good employment opportunity and it was located on the coast, so the decision was pretty easy for me.

My question however, is what is the deal with Jacksonville's massive lack of self confidence? It's so widespread that it makes me feel like I should be embarassed to live here, even though I am most certainly not. Is there any particular reason for this?

When I read local coverage of the Super Bowl, planned new developments or the influx of high end retailers to the St. John's Town Center, the media and the people I talk to almost talk like the city is getting away with something when it attracts some of the perks that larger cities do and is nervously waiting for someone to catch the mistake and take those things away to be redistributed to cities like Tampa or Orlando.

It's baffling to me. As an outsider, I saw the second nicest skyline in Florida (behind Miami) when I moved here, and the lighting of the bridges has only widened the margins. I saw a city with nicer beaches that were closer than any other metro city in Florida aside from Miami. I saw genuinely nice areas on all sides of town, a respectable airport, a strong Naval presence, proximity to St. Augustine, an NFL franchise, new stadiums, a few major colleges, a ton of new development, amazing parks, a ton of entertainment options and too many other benefits to list. Moving from Tallahassee, I honestly felt like I was moving into the place to be in the next ten years in Florida...

..and then I heard the locals talking. I honestly don't understand why everyone here is so paranoid about what the city doesn't have. It's made me feel like Jacksonville isn't that great at times, and though I rebound from the persuasion, it's still really unfortunate.

The Florida Times Union doesn't help matters at all. The paper was an embarassment during Super Bowl week, and instead of celebrating the fact that our beautiful town actually had the biggest event on the planet, it offered endless coverage-of-the-coverage of the Super Bowl, saying "We don't care what you think about our city" and then writing 500 words of pathetically "not caring" ranting and raving. We let ourselves get bullied by the visiting media, and it was sad. Instead of celebrating what we do have, the local media turned the theme of the Super Bowl into "We don't know if we will ever get it again so enjoy it!".

And then when the St. John's Town Center opened, the local media painted the entire town out as blithering yokels who got a SHOPPING MALL and now suddenly feel like they are in ("somewhere actually good") like Atlanta or Orlando. "I woke up and felt like I was in Orlando said a 90 year old woman trying on an expensive pair of designer sunglasses". I can' speak for the rest of the town, but I want to be the FIRST Jacksonville, not the next Orlando or Atlanta or anywhere, because they sure as hell don't have the St. John's River cutting through their skylines or endless miles of beautiful beachfront. With one million residents, a blossoming downtown, an NFL franchise and thousands of things most other cities can't claim, I wish the media would just be happy with what we have.

Am I way off base, or is the problem with Jacksonville having a lot of trouble attracting high paying jobs almost a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts where the city mopes around feeling like the redheaded stepbrother of Tampa, Miami and Orlando and subsequently, a lot of companies and individuals just shrug and agree with us.

Anyway, any input on this would be appreciated, because at least to me, a new guy in town, it seems like the attitude of most of Jacksonville is the main barrer standing in the way of becoming a premiere growth city like Phoenix.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Welcome to Jax even though I don't live there anymore. I too graduated from FSU so go state. I believe that for the most part people had to wait and see if Jax could get those things you made reference to. People were wondering if Jax could pull off the SB and whether or not Jax could get an upscale mall. If you read the articles written by out of town writers later during SB week and afterwards, their attitudes about the city completely changed. The articles actually said positive things about the city. One of the writers from Boston commented during the whole SB week had he did nothing but party at the beach and had fun doing it. Other writers also commented about clubbing the whole week at Jax and how nice the clubs are. If you talked to people in Jax months before the SB, you would have thought that Jax didn't have any clubs that would satisfy people.

You're right, the media (r.e. T.U.) doesn't help things b/c they feed into the attitude that some residents have. I have found that the people I met who did not grow in the metro don't have the inferior complex as it pertains to the metro. The article they wrote the day the mall opened was dumb. You have a new mall open when there hasn't been a new opened in the last 15 years and you're talking to people who say dumb stuff such as "I feel like I'm in Atlanta". WJXT did a story about the new mall and posted it on the website. They quoted a guy saying "This mall is so nice. It seems likes it doesn't belong in Jacksonville right now because it's so clean". I read the story and said to myself "whaaaaaaaaaaaa". Stupid comments. I also found that the younger people in that I met also didn't have the inferior complex about the city. It was the older people that I knew that had the complex about Jax. In general I would say that complex is starting to change.

Then you just have those people who hate their city and will hate on Jax b/c they're sad people. I grew up in Jax and after I graduated from grad school at State I got a job in Miami. After living down there for two years I got a job in Jax. I like both places and the people who I meet in SoFL liked Jacksonville and they would comment to me how much fun they had in Jax if they've been there. No matter what the attitude of the people in Jax is, that's not going to stop people from moving there and visiting. You mentioned Phoenix and I must tell you that for the last 7 months I have lived here in Phoenix b/c of a job and overall it's a nice place. Now I maybe biased having lived in SOFL and J'ville, but Phoenix is no Jax or SoFL. Yes Phoenix has tremendous growth and that is the only thing that makes it similar to Jax or SoFL. I miss Florida b/c as you mentioned there is so much that Jax has to offer. As a single young guy such as myself can have a field-day in Miami or Jax. Phoenix is different b/c there are a lot less singles. Miami, Jax, Orlando and Tampa have more of a "urban feel" to them as opposed to Phoenix which feels more like a big surburb. Neither one is bad, it's all about what you're looking for. That's not me saying that, but other people I've met here who are from other areas.

Don't feel discouraged b/c of the attitude of some of the people in Jax. I have and had a good attitude about Jax and what other people thought about the city never changed my attitude b/c I knew the real deal. Enjoy yourself as I'm sure you are. Coming from Tally you must be in "hog heaven". Btw, are you from Florida?

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Welcome home.

I believe you touched on some of the reason behind the inferior feeling that many residents have is because in general Jacksonville is seen by the rest of Florida, and the US for that matter, as inferior. Tallahassee tends to overlook Jacksonville and that has given a bad signal to the locals.

We see the other cities in the movies and TV yet, beside local military bases, very rarely do you see Jacksonville.

The inferiority complex comes half from being treated as inferior and half from so many people trying their damn hardest to keep Jacksonville a small town.

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I had a post a few months back that I wish I could find now. It addressed this issue in detail and several responses were posted too.

Anyway, here are my thoughts...

** It has been my experience that no matter where you live or even visit, it is almost ALWAYS the longtime residents and natives that have the most negative attitude about the place. This is especially true if they have not lived or traveled to other places. They don't have other experiences to compare to the experiences they have of their own city. They don't realize that the good things about were they live, don't necessarily exist EVERYWHERE ELSE too.

** The inferiority complex you allude to is real. It is abating, but not fast enough for me. I think the fact that the SB was a success, and in the process a lot of people were re-introduced to a much improved downtown, will help reduce the inferiority complex.

** Like you, I agree that the aforementioned inferiority complex is the biggest drawback to Jacksonville, and the biggest impediment to it's maturity as a great urban area.

** I agree with afh that the locals and the outside media grew in appreciation and confidence of the area as SB week progressed. This was Jax's first time in such a big spotlight. It's not unexpected that some offense would be taken initially. I think the locals learned to brush off such criticisms, and also gained confidence from pulling the SB off so well. The next time that Jax is in the spotlight like that again, those initial jeters/inferior feelings should be absent.

** Given the fact that several retailers in the St. John's Center were new to town, and it is the first lifestyle center in Jax, the press was not out of line to treat the opening as being a new experience. It is discouraging to hear people comment that Jax is not worthy of such things.

** The biggest reason that the locals have this inferiority complex is that these inferior feelings were justified 30 or 40 years ago. Jacksonville in the 1960's was polluted both in the air from paper mills, and in the river from inappropriate discharges. If that wasn't bad enough, the city suffered from an failing school system that saw every high school lose it's accredidation, and graft and corruption riddled throughout a redundant, inefficient, multi-layered government.

To me the BIGGEST source of pride for Jacksonvillians should be that in less than a generation, ALL of those very difficult, burdensome issues have been turned around. The paper mills have closed or cleaned up their act. The river is much cleaner now than it was then. The schools have been re-accredited and while there are still challenges with the school system (which is no different than any other urban area), some of the schools are actually ranked tops in the nation. The biggest turn-around is that Jacksonville's government is a national model that cities all over the country are trying to minic. The preservation project, the Better Jax Plan, and consolidation itself are looked at in awe by cities and counties all over the southeast and far beyond.

In summary, Jax just needs to "look at it's reflection" because the ugly duckling became a swan years ago!!

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I think also it is easier for people in general to have a negative as opposed to a positive outlook. That is why motivational speakers and writers make money - it is harder to be positive and to succeed. If it wasnt hard, everyone would be doing it.

That being said, I have travelled all over the world and Jacksonville is one of the best cities in the world in my opinion. Of course it could be better, but we are working on that. I think the city keeps improving and I am happy to be a part of it.

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Here here, all of you! I think Jax is moving on up, and more and more people will start to see that....I hope. What I can't stand is the suburbanites (I'm related to a few of them) who rarely venture in to downtown and the great surrounding urban neighborhoods. I wouldn't go to the heart of the city JUST for work! There's so much to do in Jax, you just have to look in the right places.

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The inferiority complex is a stubborn thing that dies hard.

It seems to me that up until the fifties, Jacksonville was the state's leader in many categories- - not in tourism, but most definitely in commerce, Fortune 500 headquarters, banking, the skyline, even shopping. I'm told that the old Cedar Hills shopping center offered the most exclusive shopping in the Southeast when it opened in 1959. I know that for many years during the seventies and even into the eighties, the tallest building in the Southeast, outside of Atlanta was the Independent Life Building.

Then, from the sixties through the seventies, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando all boomed in population, leaving Jacksonville behind. Miami and Tampa got NFL teams. Orlando got Disney World. All of those cities were on the national radar screen, mostly throught tourism. Jacksonville was just a gas station stop on the way to Disney or Miami.

All of that is changing now. Jacksonville's downtown will be the jewel of the state. All of the benchmarks that come with progress will be in Jax sooner rather than later.

There is one place you can go in Jacksonville where you won't see any inferiority complex at all - a Jaguar's game.

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