Evening on the Southbank Riverwalk

Living in River City has its perks for sure. With the demolition of the infamous Jacksonville Landing entertainment area, the Southbank Riverwalk is basically all Jacksonvillians have left for entertainment and social gatherings. Granted, Jacksonville is a large city, and there are a million and one places you can go for entertainment, but downtown Jax is the beating heart of the city. There is too much history, and we just lost one of our biggest gems.

 

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The Jacksonville Landing before demolition. (visitflorida.com)

The Southbank Riverwalk sits across the river from the former Jacksonville Landing. It begins at the Friendship Fountain and runs beneath the John T. Asop Jr. Bridge (aka Main St. Bridge) and along the river’s edge until it reaches the Duval County Public School building.

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The Friendship Fountain

 

The Friendship Fountain has been around since my mother was a girl. The aging fountain is still running on all cylinders and is still a treasure to the people of the city. There are about fifteen active spouts that run during the day. On occasions, they sprout high into the air and dance with color projectors attached to towers adding wonder to the spectacle. The fountain is popular for setting a romantic mood near the river and becoming every child’s running track around the 200-foot wide pool of water. Along the outside of the fountain are white arbors with benches beneath for resting or reading. Picnic tables are set up in the grassy area left of the fountain for family events. The Museum of Science and History is only 100 feet away if you want to do something entertaining for the entire family. Further left of the grassy area and the fountain is the River City Brewing Company, a good place to wine and dine yourself. If you have a boat, you can park right outside the restaurant in their marina.

 

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The Friendship Fountain

 

 

St. John’s River

The St. John’s River is the soul of Jacksonville. I would that is why Jacksonville is named the “River City” because the St. John’s River runs directly through the city. As you walk along the boardwalk, you will get the view of at least five of Jacksonville’s iconic bridges; the Hart Bridge, the Matthews Bridge, the John T. Alsop Bridge, the Acosta Bridge, and FEC Strauss Trunnion Bascule Bridge (or train bridge).

As you walk away from the Friendship Fountain, you have two paths to choose, you could either climb the ramp that will allow you to walk across the John T. Alsop Bridge or you take the boardwalk that will lead you beneath the bridge further along the boardwalk. If you take the bridge ramp, you can take awesome selfies at the top of the Main St. Bridge and walk into downtown where all the cafes reside. If you continue on the boardwalk, it will seem like you are preparing to walk underwater due to the boardwalk’s dip. The river is literally at your face and gives the illusion that it may spill over at any moment. Beneath the bridge is a commissioned mosaic art piece of glass and tile along the wall. It, too, is perfect for selfies. If you are lucky, you can catch a pod of dolphins playing and swimming together beneath the bridge. In my experience, night time is much easier to see them. It’s quieter at night, and there are no boats zipping back and forth, so it is safer.

 

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Beneath the Main St. Drawbridge
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“Mirrored River: Where do you see yourself?” commissioned mosaic piece
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Boardwalk leading under Main St. Bridge.
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View of the Acosta Bridge and the Train Bridge.

 

The Boardwalk

Along the boardwalk, you take notice of more than just the pretty views. You can also see the see in full scale, and it’s growing development. There seems to always be construction cranes seen somewhere to show something new being built in the city. Lately, a lot of hotels and condominiums are being constructed. Jacksonville lives and breathes for tourism, so it would make sense. When you come from beneath the bridge, you can see as far west down the St. John’s river as your vision will allow you. Across the water, you can view the TIAA Bank Stadium home to the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars. If you are a coffee fiend, Maxwell’s Coffee manufacturing plant can be seen and smelled no matter how far you are. At some point along the boardwalk, new helicopters will fly above your head as they circle around the bridges and highways for traffic readings. If you get tired, there are fancy-designed benches with triangular umbrellas overhead to keep you cooled off. Near the end of the boardwalk, you get a great look at the Strand Apartments building and its high-class lifestyle through its glass lobby walls.

 

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Benches with triangular umbrellas.
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TIAA Bank Stadium for the Jacksonville Jaguars
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River Taxi
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The Hart Bridge
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Maxwell Coffee manufacturing plant.
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The Strand Apartments

 

An evening on the Southbank Riverwalk is perfect for families, couples, soloist, photographers, and even runners. No matter how much Jacksonville grows and expands, the beauty of the River city will always lie at the heart of downtown Jacksonville.

Original Beauty of the Twin Bridges

I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida, my entire life, and I’ve always known the bridges there to be pretty because of the different colors they’re painted. Every couple of years, the bridge undergoes a makeover for a new fresh coat. I didn’t mind it until I started truck driving. I drove through other cities besides my own, and I see bridges in their original form, and they seem fascinating than the painted dolls back in my city.

Recently I drove across the Twin Bridges (aka The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges) in Kentucky. From a distance, I could see how vintage-like they appeared, and it blew me away. In my imagination, they looked like time portals that would take me back to a different time when I drove across them. The closer I got to the bridges, the more excited I became. It felt like the same feeling I got every year when my mother would drive me across the Dames Pointe Bridge for my birthday.

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

I couldn’t pull my phone out of my pocket long enough to snap photos of the rustic sister bridges. I love bodies of water too, and I’m sure the scenery of the river running beneath it was just as exciting, but I could care less about that river as long as I got the bridges. I took as many photos as I could as I drove through the bridge. The beauty of original metal and the rust taking over the exterior brought to life a greater love for bridges.

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

 

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The Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Twin Bridges

 

The average lifespan of a bridge is about seventy years, with proper upkeep, most bridges can live well past 100 years. I know that rust is the enemy of metal and that eventually, the city will have to treat the rust if they plan on using this bridge for many years to come. I can’t help but feel sad to know that sometime in the future, these beloved beauties will be coated in bright colors or twinkling lights stripping away their originality. Oh, what a world that will be.