"A fascinating account of how the city of Jacksonville met the major challenges of the last half of the 20th century, from those posed by race relations to downtown development to the environment. Crooks has provided a well-written, clear, and thoughtful analysis of the need for and movement to establish a consolidated government, and the early years of that government. His understanding of Jacksonville and of the times is impressive."--Joan S. Carver, Jacksonville University
In the 1950s and '60s Jacksonville faced daunting problems. Critics described city government as boss-ridden, expensive, and corrupt. African Americans challenged racial segregation, and public high schools were disaccredited. The St. Johns River and its tributaries were heavily polluted. Downtown development had succumbed to suburban sprawl.
Consolidation, endorsed by an almost two-to-one majority in 1967, became the catalyst for change. The city's decision to consolidate with surrounding Duval County began the transformation of this conservative, Deep South, backwater city into a prosperous, mainstream metropolis.
James B. Crooks introduces readers to preconsolidation Jacksonville and then focuses on three major issues that confronted the expanded city: racial relations, environmental pollution, and the revitalization of downtown. He shows the successes and setbacks of four mayors--Hans G. Tanzler, Jake Godbold, Tommy Hazouri, and Ed Austin—in responding to these issues. He also compares Jacksonville's experience with that of another Florida metropolis, Tampa, which in 1967 decided against consolidation with surrounding Hillsborough County.
Consolidation has not been a panacea for all the city's ills, Crooks concludes. Yet the city emerges in the 21st century with increased support for art and education, new economic initiatives, substantial achievements in downtown renewal, and laudable efforts to improve race relations and address environmental problems. Readers familiar with Jacksonville over the last 40 years will recognize events like the St. Johns River cleanup, the building of the Jacksonville Landing, the ending of odor pollution, and the arrival of the Jaguars NFL franchise.
During the administration of Mayor Hazouri from 1987 to 1991, Crooks was Jacksonville historian-in-residence at City Hall. Combining observations from this period with extensive interviews and documents (including a cache of files from the mezzanine of the old City Hall parking garage that contained 44 cabinets of letters, memos, and reports), he has written an urban history that will fascinate scholars of politics and governmental reform as well as residents of the First Coast city.
James B. Crooks is emeritus professor of history at the University of North Florida
No Sample Chapter Available
"a welcome addition in the often dry field of urban studies."
"A careful look at the city, _Jacksonville_ proves that the intricacies of local governance--its langorous pace, interminable committees, and possibilities for change--make an excellent primer for our modern condition." H-Net Book Review
"A reminder of just how backward a city Jacksonville was in many ways in the 1950s and early 1960s."
"For newcomers who fall in love with the city immediately, the book should provide useful background for understanding some of the city's ongoing issues" Florida Times-Union
"An excellent primer for our modern condition." H-Net Book Review
"Particularly useful for its examination of how blacks viewed their prospects in this "Bold New City" and how civil rights activists pressed their claims within the new consolidated government...This finely crafted volume is a welcome addition to southern urban history and a primer for those concerned about southern growth in the twenty-first century." Journal of Southern History
"Crooks has much to say about urban leadership, governmental structure, and power relationships in urban governance, and his excellent discussion of environmental policy is relatively rare in studies of post-war urban politics and history." Florida Historical Quarterly
Crooks, the historian-in-residence during the administration of Jacksonville mayor Tommy Hazouri (1987-1991), was in an excellent position to observe community development at close range. His experiences and insights are quite evident… Journal of American History