The Eastside faces many challenges in attracting reinvestment and development. Our area has a long history of industrial and port-related uses, lying within a portion of Jacksonville that was originally developed in the 1800s. It was originally comprised of two historical communities: Fairfield and Oakland. These communities were developed during the immediate post-civil war period and consisted of approximately 225 acres. In the 1850s prominent sawmills were constructed along the St. Johns River and employed large portions of the communities. In 1887 Jacksonville annexed Fairfield, Oakland, and other surrounding towns.
| (Source:Jacksonville Integrated Planning Project
The Jacksonville Port Authority’s Talleyrand facility was the first marine terminal established on the St. Johns River, providing access for importing and exporting raw materials and finished goods. Several railroad lines running through the area provide for freight movement to and from the area. As a result of this marine activity, numerous businesses and industries have operated near the marine terminal over the past century.
The residential areas west of the port area were developed to meet the housing needs of the industry and marine terminal workers. Many of these single-family homes are adjacent to industrial properties and in need of repair. Overall, our community could be characterized as economically disadvantaged, with higher than normal unemployment rates and low family income.
Jacksonville’s Eastside is 95% predominately African-American over the ten year period 1980 through 1990 and up to 47% of our residents live below the federally defined poverty level. An important indicator of poverty is the percentage of female-headed households. The Eastside has a disproportionately large percentage of female-headed households compared with Duval County: 50% to 20%. Additionally, our unemployment rate is more than twice the County’s rate while the median income is less than half.
Demographics of Jacksonville’s Eastside area do not fully show the impacts these dilapidated and contaminated properties have on our surrounding citizens and community. Some of the jobs lost when the industrial operations such as the pulp and paper mill, fertilizer plant, and warehouse shut down were held by people outside of our community. Therefore, while the unemployment demographic has not plunged as dramatically as one would anticipate, Eastside businesses have experienced a decline in revenue because these people who once came from outside the area to work at the local mills and spent money in the area while they were here, now no longer do. This has resulted in the area’s tax base taking a drastic loss in revenue.
Our Eastside community needs jobs, clean neighborhoods, clean business sites, and a trained and healthy population to attract business back to the area.