Facts about Jacksonville you might not know

Today is your day, Jacksonville!

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Happy 201st birthday Jacksonville!

On June 15, 1822, our beautiful city was founded.

Last year, the city threw a bigtime bash with a memorable Bicentennial Celebration for Jacksonville’s 200th birthday.

BICENTENNIAL: Complete coverage of Jacksonville’s Bicentennial Celebration

News4JAX teams with the Jacksonville Historical Society, City of Jacksonville, local businesses and residents to celebrate Jacksonville’s bicentennial. Hosted by Kent Justice & Joy Purdy.

When a friend asks you to describe the great city in which you live, chances are you might bring up Friendship Fountain, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, or the Jacksonville Jaguars, the resident NFL team.

But there is so much more to Jacksonville than scenery and professional sports.

Here are a few fun facts about Jacksonville that have really put us on the map.

  • Duval County is huge. By land area, Jacksonville is the largest city in the contiguous United States. You may have figured that out when taking almost an hour to get from one side of Duval County to the next. Don’t even get us started on the traffic...
  • Jacksonville is the birthplace of Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. News4Jax has profiled the group extensively, including producing an hour-long special, “The Legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

WATCH: ‘The Legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd’ preview | A look at the documentary

  • In the early 1900s, an ostrich farm, located on what is today’s Southbank, was the city’s top tourist attraction, Florida Network Realty reports. Who needs fair rides and football games when you have a showstopping amusement attraction like ostrich, am I right? Sadly, attraction met its fate in 1937.
  • During the 18th century, Jacksonville was a British settlement. Its original name was Cowford.
  • Mayport is among the largest U.S. Naval ports in the country. The station was commissioned in December 1942.
  • Much of Jacksonville’s urban core was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901. In 1901, the fire spread across downtown and burned 2,368 buildings and 466 acres. It was the largest metropolitan fire in the South. It left more than 8,600 people homeless. Three years later, the area was rebuilt. The number of new structures surpassed the number of buildings lost. (Read more about the “Great Fire” here)
  • How much do you know about Jacksonville’s first residents? Prior to colonialism, much of Jacksonville was inhabited by the Timucuan Indians. You might have known that from your history class, but did you know this? The Timucuan Indians were doing great in downtown Jacksonville, hunting and fishing, caring for their families. But when they interacted with colonists, they were exposed to countless diseases. By 1595, their population was estimated to have been reduced from 150,000 to 50,000.
  • In 1822, Jacksonville was named for Andrew Jackson. At the time, Jackson was the military governor of the Florida territory. Jacksonville has a statue of its namesake downtown near what used to be The Jacksonville Landing.
  • Snow in Jacksonville? Get out of town! It feels as if it will never snow in Duval County again, but it happened... and we have pictures to prove it. On Dec. 23, 1989, those who lived here sledded down the Dames Point Bridge, had snowball fights and even made snowmen. It hasn’t snowed in more than 30 years. (GALLERY: Locals share snow photos 30+ years after a white Christmas in Jacksonville)

RELATED | Long history of downtown Jacksonville

There you have it. Bring this knowledge to a party and people will be amazed.

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About the Author:

Carianne Luter is an Award-Winning Digital Media and Engagement Manager for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She won "Best Social Media Engagement Strategy" during the Local Media Association 2022 Digital Innovation Awards. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.