A 1915 map showing the location of Longbranch. Courtesy of USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer.
Along with Brentwood, Panama Park, Tallulah and North Shore, Longbranch is a part of Jacksonville’s Northside known as Metro North. The neighborhood of Longbranch was platted during the mid-1880s by James Jaquelin Daniel. A civil war veteran, Col. J.J. Daniel was an early philanthropist, civic leader, president of the Jacksonville Cemetery Association, and husband of Emily Isabel L’Engle . Under Daniel’s leadership, the cemetery association established the nearby Evergreen Cemetery in 1880. Also president of the Auxiliary Sanitary Association, Daniel died of yellow fever after catching the disease from coordinating volunteer efforts to combat the epidemic in 1888. The non-profit Daniel Kids organization was established in his memory.
Situated just south of Evergreen Cemetery, Longbranch was named after the creek that forms its northern border. In addition, the neighborhood was platted along Talleyrand Avenue. Developed by Jacob S. Parker in 1873 as the East Shell Road, Talleyrand was originally a toll road and the second major paved street in Duval County. Connecting Jacksonville with Panama Park, the road was a popular route for bicycle and carriage excursions and was renamed to commemorate noted seasonal resident, Charles Maurice Camille, Marquis de Talleyrand. In 1880, what would become the neighborhood’s western border, was created when the Fernandina & Jacksonville (F&J) Railroad was completed between Yulee and Jacksonville.
Residences and industry continue to line the former streetcar line on Evergreen Avenue.
Industrial development during the late 19th and early 20th century cemented Longbranch’s place as a residential community the area’s African-American workforce. In 1895, the Jacksonville Street Railway was extended through Longbranch to connect Evergreen Cemetery and Panama Park with downtown. From south to north, the streetcar line’s path utilized Phoenix Avenue, 21st Street and Evergreen Avenue. During Longbranch’s formative years, 21st Street emerged as its major east-west thoroughfare and business district. A year later, recognizing the value of Florida cypress and timberlands, Wellington Willson Cummer founded the Cummer Lumber Company just north of the streetcar line’s terminus at Phoenix Park. Cummer’s sawmill quickly grew to become the Jacksonville area’s largest employer.
Left: (Jacksonville Traction Car #168) was named “Phoenix” after the city rose from the ashes of the 1901 fire. This streetcar line served Longbranch via Phoenix Avenue, East 21st Street and Evergreen Avenue. Right: A 1960s aerial of Longbranch’s industrial riverfront. Images courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.