July 18, 2018

Revamp of Springfield Park before adding new greenspace

springfield

Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted said every city should have a large park for “unbending of the faculties.” A potential reality now for Springfield residents.

Notable urban parks across the country offering respite from the hustle and bustle of the city include Law’s massive Central Park in New York City (843 acres), Savannah’s Forsythe Park (30 acres), and Boston’s Common (40 acres). If you can look beyond the decaying infrastructure and prison-like fences that keep residents out, then you’ll discover Jacksonville has a space that was once worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence with some of the country’s most revered urban recreational grounds.

Confederate Park and playground, H.J. Klutho Park, W.W. Schell Park, and McPherson Park combine to form 37 acres of green space forming the border between Downtown and Springfield. A look into the area’s history suggests that this was Jacksonville’s true, great urban park.

Historic markers and history books are quick to mention that it was the site of the 24th Annual National Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans, but this urban park’s history is much more culturally diverse and important to the development of the city than that limited mention.

What evolved into the city’s premier public grounds dates back to 1878, when 5.5 acres of land was acquired, establishing Waterworks Park. At the height of the Gilded Era, it was here where the Sub-Tropical Exposition was developed to lure tourists to Florida. When the enormous exhibition hall opened its doors to the public on January 12, 1888, guests included President Grover Cleveland, Frederick Douglass, and railroad magnate Henry Plant. A yellow fever outbreak hampered the hall’s ability to draw tourists, leading to a more functional use; the construction of waterworks pump house buildings that in 2003 were supposed to become the central features of a JEA Waterworks laboratory, museum and visitors center complex.

Source

Leave A Comment