The beach cruiser

Emory Mojave Beach Cruiser. Courtesy of Emory Manufacturing Corporation.

Built in 1925 for E.L. Green’s Sunshine Potato Chip Company, this rusticated concrete block building on the Eastside became home to the Ambrosia Cake Bakeries Corporation in 1928. Operated by Earle P. Colby, the bakery’s business model consisted solely of the baking of cakes and the sale of these to bakeries, which distributed them, along with bread, to merchants. Highly perishable and becoming stale and unfit for food after about two days, Ambrosia’s cakes were priced between 5 cents and 39 cents.

In 1954, Ambrosia was acquired by Kansas City-based Interstate Bakeries Corporation (IBC). The purchase was IBC’s first move into the South. Interstate organized Ambrosia as a separate cake division with annual sales of $1.5 million, using the brand names Dolly Madison and Ambrosia, with Colby’s heading as president an area stretching from Key West to Washington, D.C., and from Arkansas to the Atlantic. The business would go on to eventually become Hostess Brands, owning brands such as Hostess, Wonder Bread, Nature’s Pride and Dolly Madison. However, growth of the company involved abandoning the aging Danese Street bakery.

In 1956, brothers Clayton and Willard Smith acquired the property and relocated their bicycle business into the building in 1956. Founded by the Smith brothers in Miami in 1944, Clayton-Willard Bicycles relocated to Jacksonville in 1948. In 1976, the company started making the Emory bicycle at this location, establishing itself as the country’s first manufacturer of the beach cruiser. Eventually, Clayton-Willard Bicycles was rebranded as the Emory Manufacturing Company. Today, Emory continues its bicycle operation within this historic, architecturally unique urban core industrial property.

The Ambrosia Cake Bakeries Corporation. Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.

Hogans Creek Greenway

Hogans Creek forms downtown’s north and east borders as it stretches from the St. Johns River to the medical campus of UF Health Jacksonville in Springfield. Once known as Jacksonville’s “Grand canale,” the creek is named after the Hogans family. In 1823, the Spanish government validated John Hogan’s claim to the Springfield area, which was then known as Hogans’ Donation. The adjacent Eastside neighborhood was a part of the 225-acre Spanish land grant provided to Daniel Hogans. If not for the creek and its marshes stopping the Great Fire of 1901 from extending north and east of Downtown, the 19th century suburbs of East Jacksonville, Fairfield, Oakland, and Springfield would have also likely been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1901.

Long associated with flooding problems in early 20th century Jacksonville, a $500,000 bond issue was approved in 1927 to finance the construction of the Hogans Creek Improvement Project. When completed in 1929, the Henry John Klutho-led design transformed the space into a scenic Venetian-style promenade featuring decorative balustrades, light fixtures, six vehicular bridges and three footbridges that were popular with bicyclist and pedestrians.

Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail

The Jacksonville and Southwestern Railroad (J&SW;) was built in 1899 between Jacksonville and Newberry. Built by Wellington W. Cummer, the purpose of the original railroad was to transport timber near Newberry to Cummer’s massive sawmill along the St. Johns River in Panama Park. In 1904 it became a part of the Atlantic Coast Line railroad. For many years, the line served as the main route for passenger trains running between Jacksonville and St. Petersburg. Under the ownership of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, most of the railroad west of Picketville Road was abandoned between 1968 and 1972.

In August 1990, the City of Jacksonville applied to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for acquisition of the abandoned railroad corridor. Acquired from CSX Transportation in December 1992 through the Florida Greenways and Trails Program, the former railroad was then converted into a “linear park” under the federally initiated “Rails to Trails” program.

Today, the 14.5 mile Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail is a 100 foot wide Right-of-Way (ROW) extending approximately 14.5 miles from Imeson Road in Jacksonville to the Town of Baldwin. Passing through rural areas abundant with trees, wildlife and plant life, the trail features a 12’ wide paved trail for hikers, bikers and roller-bladers to enjoy and an equestrian trail running parallel to the paved trail.