Walkable commercial districts: Ortega Village

Published On: May 17 2012 08:54:48 AM EDT   Updated On: May 16 2012 11:00:00 PM EDT

Jacksonville's urban core is home to a number of historic walkable neighborhood commercial districts. Many are a direct result of the defunct Jacksonville Traction Company, which once operated a 60 mile streetcar system. Today, Metro Jacksonville highlights the terminal spot of a 1908 streetcar line extension into Ortega: Ortega Village


Ortega Village History
The Ortega neighborhood we know today got its start in 1906, when John N.C. Stockton's Ortega Company purchased 5,000 acres of land from U.S. Senator Wilkinson Call.

To spur development, Stockton constructed a wooden bridge over the Ortega River to connect the project to Jacksonville. As an incentive to purchase homesites, the Ortega Company promised no taxes and free water for a certain time period.

Between 1910 and 1930, Jacksonville's population exploded from 57,699 to 129,549. This surge in growth would have a lasting impact on several sparsely development communities along the Ortega streetcar line, including Ortega.

During the mid-1920s, Ortega Village developed at the streetcar's Cortez Park turnaround, providing centralized neighborhood commercial uses to the growing community surrounding it.

Ortega Village Today

Cortez Park is located just south of Ortega Village. It served as the "end of the line" or turnaround for the 1906 streetcar line extension through Riverside and Avondale, connecting Ortega with Downtown Jacksonville. Boy Scouts found it a popular ride to a good campsite and fisherman and crabbers enjoyed the day trips it afforded.

Oxford Place is one of only 25 flat iron-shaped buildings in the country. It was built by Marsh and Saxelbye in 1924 and was designed to look like an English Village in the Tudor style.

When this structure was completed in 1924, it was known as Faulkners Grocery Company and its windows displayed produce, banana stalks and sides of meat. Displays were changed on Sundays when cracker barrels and cookies were put in the windows to lure Sunday strollers. At Christmas, red and green sawdust was spread on the floor in lieu of ordinary sawdust.

Ortega Village is located where Corinthian Avenue intersects with Oxford Avenue and Baltic Street in the heart of the Old Ortega Historic District.

Article by Ennis Davis | More images on Ortega Village | Read and join the discussions on this article

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