Downtown Jacksonville and the Northbank riverfront during the early 20th century. (Howard Lawson)

Jacksonville is a city that owes its existence to the river that flows through the heart of it. Throughout the first century of the city’s history, the Northbank riverfront was a place lined with seafood markets, wharfs, shipyards, cargo and passenger terminals. By the 1950s, city officials felt that the waterfront, that gave the city life, was in desparate need of a makeover. That makeover came in the form of relocating riverfront industry, demolishing the wharf district and extending downtown one block into the river for a massive riverfront parking lot.

The Northbank Riverfront shortly after the 1960s completion of the City Hall Annex and Duval County Courthouse. (State Archives of Florida)

As the decades passed, portions of the Northbank’s massive public parking lot gave way to a mix of infill development projects such as the Jacksonville Landing, the Times-Union Performing Arts Center and the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.