Amusement attractions have changed a lot over the years. What crowds found entertaining a hundred years ago would not necessarily be considered entertaining today.
For example, it’s unlikely that you would choose to pay top dollar to go to an amusement park based entirely around ostriches.
But sure enough, ostrich farms were a hot new trend in the late 1800s – and by the late 1890s, that trend had spread to Jacksonville.
Florida Ostrich Farm set up shop along Talleyrand Avenue in the Fairfield neighborhood, and it became one of the city’s top tourist attractions. The farm billed itself as the largest ostrich farm on the east coast and offered all sorts of ostrich-related attractions. You could ride an ostrich, sit in a carriage that was pulled by an ostrich (or a pair of ostriches), or even watch the surprisingly-speedy birds race each other.
Its gift shop featured a variety of items made with ostrich feathers, which were quite the commodity at the time.
By the 1910s, the farm was ready to expand. It moved down the street to a 50-acre lot, adding amusement attractions and alligators. It would move again in the ‘20s, this time to the land formerly occupied by Dixieland Amusement Park, which the ostrich farm had successfully outlived.
It didn’t beat Dixieland by that much, though. By the ‘30s, the appeal of ostrich-related amusement parks had apparently fizzled. The city’s zoo had recently expanded to a larger campus and offered a larger variety of animals, and downtown Jax was becoming a hot spot that promised more fun than riding an ostrich.
Florida Ostrich Farm met its fate in 1937, when its owner sold off its alligators to St. Augustine Alligator Farm. The ostriches, presumably, also found new homes – no one seems to know exactly what happened to them.