The Northside: A look at Jacksonville’s largest area

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Million-dollar homes. Farmlands. Fast-growing suburbs.

All of these describe Jacksonville’s Northside of town.

We decided to tour the city’s largest area, after viewer Rob Kight emailed News4Jax, asking in part, “Why is every story that occurs north of 8th Street considered the Northside?”

He went on to write, “This is a frequent occurrence and is incredibly frustrating to those of us north of the St. Johns (River) and around Oceanway, to be casually grouped in with areas that should not be labeled Northside. Do better.”

Kight says he was born and raised on the Northside when it was predominantly covered in woods. Those woods have now given way to homes with marsh views, sporadic farms and subdivisions quickly popping up all over the area. Kight says all this is overlooked, thanks in part to people’s assumptions about the Northside, which he says have really affected his family — particularly his high school-aged daughter.

“It is disappointing when, you know, the students and even the parents of students for a sleepover, or something,” Kight said, shaking his head, “expressed concern that ‘Oh, it’s on the Northside? You live on the Northside?’”

Kight says he readily admits the Northside is not all perfect, just like other sections of town.

“But the areas that we do take pride in, we would love to share with others,” Kight said.

Kight took me through the San Mateo area where he lives, just outside Oceanway. It’s right in the middle of Jacksonville’s largest “zone”.

Jacksonville police patrol the entire city by zone, and Zone 6 covers all the area north of the Trout River, from just west of U.S. 1, which is New Kings Road, all the way east past Hecksher Drive. One area of Zone 6 with the most calls for police service is a very small subsector labeled P-1. It’s north of the Trout River, south of I-295, in between Lem Turner Road and I-95.

In that small subsector, during the month of October, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office online Crime Mapping Tool shows most of the calls for service dealt with thefts and vehicle break-ins. Among the violent crimes, most were physical assaults.

Another hot spot for police calls is a small pocket off I-95, just east of the Jacksonville International Airport, near the River City Marketplace, where the dominant crime is theft.

Travel just south of the Trout River, and lines become blurred, as people mistake the Northside for parts of Northwest Jacksonville, which is Zone 5.

On the Sheriff’s Office Zone and SubSector Map, you can type in your address to see in which zone you live.

Back in Northside territory, you’ll find other familiar sites like the Jacksonville Zoo, off I-95 to the east, and the Jacksonville International Airport, off I-95 to the west.

Way up north, in the Dunn Creek community between First Coast High School and the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary, is where U.S. Navy veteran and local realtor Alvin Lyons chose to raise his family.

“With Jacksonville being a large military town, and the Northside being centrally located to three other bases here,” Lyons explained, “that’s kind of how I got here.”

Lyons also says living close to the expressway, as well as the airport, is perfect for anyone who’s always traveling or may have to get up and go at a moment’s notice, like members of our military.

Lyons showed me different areas of the Northside that are becoming favorite spots for families to live. You can read more about those growing areas by becoming a News4Jax Insider.

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About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.