The presence of the St. Johns River running through downtown Jacksonville is one of the city’s greatest assets.
In the 1980s, the city worked hard to put that natural asset to use, creating the Riverwalks along the north and south banks of the river.
Originally the Riverwalks were planned with far more amenities, including a riverfront aquarium, an amphitheater, and an open-air marketplace, but many aspects of the initial plans were either scaled down or removed.
Over the years, even some of the elements that did get built out have been removed: the maritime museum, some riverfront shops, and a few other amenities.
But with the ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Jax becoming a high priority for the city, it would make sense to start exploring ways to improve the Riverwalk experience to generate more activity along our valuable riverbanks.
To be fair, the Riverwalk provides some basic amenities such as dog-walking stations and the occasional restroom kiosk.
But for a two-mile-long pedestrian mall, more restrooms would be ideal – as would some well-placed hydration stations.
Considering how many people routinely run or walk along the Riverwalks, it’s surprising how few opportunities there are to refill a water bottle or get a quick sip of water.
And while there are a few shaded spots along the full two-mile stretch, it could use a few more covered pavilions to help out in the event of a sudden thunderstorm – not exactly a rare occurrence in Florida.
If the city wants people to hang out along the river, it has to provide them with more than just the base level of amenities.