The Durkeeville Historical Society and city of Jacksonville collaborated to dedicate the birth site of Jacksonville’s Johnson brothers as the “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” Park. The park is named after the song written by John Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson in the late 1800s, which the NAACP calls the “Black National Anthem.”
As part of the development strategy for LaVilla, the current Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing park will be expanded and designed to celebrate James Weldon Johnson and the African-American experience. The park was designed by renowned landscape architect Walter Hood to honor the legacy of Jacksonville’s native sons, the Johnson Brothers, and will be the first of several cultural sites to be featured.
The park will invite people from all walks of life to honor this important Jacksonville native. The inspiration of the plan for the park begins with lifting upward. Historic maps and property lines of the parcel reveal new geometries in the present that are then rotated and angled to create movement within the landscape. The interplay between lifted lawn and the shotgun house placed on the parcel of the historic Johnson House articulates the past on an empty, grassy lot and creates a new resolution of singular space on the site.
St. Johns River Park, located on the Southbank waterfront between the Main Street and Acosta bridges and home to Friendship Fountain is undergoing a major transformation. Through careful curation, a more vibrant year-round public space will take shape over the next two years. Built around the theme Exploring the St. Johns River, plans for the Southbank’s iconic St. Johns River Park and Friendship Fountain call for a botanical garden, a themed play park, a splash pad, concessions and fountain upgrades. The node will tell the story of the indigenous Timucuan people, Ribault’s landing in 1562 and the Ft. Caroline settlement, and botanist and horticulturist John Bartram’s travels through Jacksonville.
The park’s centerpiece, Friendship Fountain, will remain the focal point dramatically representing both the massive flow of the river and its’ ever-changing moods and patterns. The three existing rings of jets will remain, but the addition of new accent jets, lighting, and speakers will allow for production of spectacular water shows. The Downtown Investment Authority is further enhancing the experience through production of a fountain projection show and facilitating coordinated programming of the fountain, projection on the façade of the Performing Arts Center across the river, and lighting on the Acosta Bridge. The fountain shows will entertain residents and visitors nightly. Work is now underway.
Bordering the St. Johns River, this boardwalk is usually filled with joggers, tourists, folks sitting on benches, and lovers walking hand-in-hand, all of them watching the riverboats, the shorebirds, and downtown’s skyline reflected in the water. Here you can also find the water taxi dock near Chart House available for kayak launch.
About the Southbank Riverwalk Extension:
Approximately 1,900 feet of new riverfront bulkhead; a top of bank extension of the Southbank Riverwalk (approximately 1,900 linear feet); approximately 1,255 linear feet of new boardwalk; approximately 1,650 linear feet of new overland trail; parks with approximately 820 linear feet of river frontage and related amenities; a new water taxi stop; extensions of existing roadways and new roadways with enhanced sidewalks, enhanced landscaping, bike-lanes and on-street parking; and other facilities
The Northbank Riverwalk is undergoing repairs including: bulkhead repairs, wayfinding signage and the addition of a performing arts activation node.
Walk along the North Bank riverwalk for an amazing view of the St. John’s River. Many city events take place here including the Light Boat Parade, New Year’s Eye Fireworks and many races.
In Spring 2019, Jacksonville City Council approved Groundwork Jacksonville’s Emerald Trail Master Plan to create a 30-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails that will connect Downtown to 14 historic neighborhoods, 18 schools, two colleges and nearly 30 parks. Phase one is a 1.3-mile “Model Project” to connect the existing S-Line Rail Trail in Springfield to the McCoys Creek Greenway and Park Street. The Emerald Trail network is estimated to cost $31 million, plus land acquisition, and take 10 years to complete.
Brooklyn Park is located at the intersection of Jackson Street and Spruce Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood. It is directly adjacent to McCoys Creek and will be included in the McCoys Creek Greenway project and is across the street from the new Lofts at Brooklyn. The City Parks and Recreation Department has slated Brooklyn Park for significant improvements in the coming year. Currently, the park includes amenities such as a basketball court, a baseball field, benches, lighting and trash barrels.