Jacksonville, situated in northeastern Florida, is the seat of Duval County and the heart of Florida’s “First Coast” region. Located along the St. Johns River near its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 25 miles south of the Georgia border, Jacksonville expanded considerably when it consolidated with most of Duval County in 1968, becoming one of the largest cities in the nation in terms of area, covering 841 square miles (2,178 square km). It stands as a focal point within one of the state’s most densely populated urban regions.
Originally inhabited by the Timucua peoples, the region saw the establishment of Florida’s first European settlement (1564) at Fort Caroline, founded by French Huguenots. However, it was destroyed by Spanish conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. The area was initially known as Wacca Pilatka, which was interpreted as Cowford during the English period (1763–83), a term derived from Timucua meaning “cows’ crossing.” The town was officially laid out in 1822, a year after the United States acquired Florida from Spain, and was named in honor of Andrew Jackson, who briefly served as the territory’s governor.
Despite facing challenges like the Seminole Wars and occupation by Union troops during the Civil War, Jacksonville grew as a winter resort. Harbor improvements spurred industrial expansion, even in the face of a yellow fever epidemic (1888) and widespread fire destruction (1901). The waters off Jacksonville witnessed significant German U-boat activity during World War II, including the sinking of a tanker and a brief incursion of German saboteurs in 1942. The city served as the busiest military port in the nation during the Persian Gulf War (1990–91).
See also: The Best Car Wash in Jacksonville
Today, Jacksonville stands as a critical deepwater port and serves as Florida’s primary transportation and commercial center. It plays a vital role in wholesale distribution for the southeastern United States, with motor vehicles being a major cargo. The city serves as a key point in regional road and rail networks, with its international airport (completed in 1968) being one of the busiest in the state.
The economy is diversified, with sectors such as insurance, healthcare, banking, and employment at the area’s two U.S. naval air stations contributing significantly. Manufacturing encompasses products like contact lenses and paper goods, while shipbuilding, fishing, and tourism are also important. You can explore various opportunities in these sectors on Craigslist Jacksonville.
The city is closely surrounded by several beach communities, including Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach, making sport fishing a popular tourist attraction. Jacksonville’s cultural institutions feature the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville Zoological Gardens, and the Museum of Science and History.
The Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island showcases a restored plantation house and slave cabins. Additionally, the city is home to the National Football League team, the Jaguars. Nearby, you can find Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island state parks. The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, established in 1988, safeguards 72 square miles of coastal wetlands just north of the St. Johns River, while Guana River State Park is situated south along the coast.
Educational institutions include Edward Waters College (1866), Jacksonville University (1934), Florida Community College at Jacksonville (1966), University of North Florida (1965), Jones College (1918), and the Health Science Center of the University of Florida. Jacksonville was incorporated in 1832, and as of the 2020 census, it had a population of 949,611, with the Jacksonville Metro Area comprising 1,605,848 residents.