The city has gotten much better at honoring its history in recent years, with placards and monuments explaining the history and context of certain neighborhoods or properties. But there are still parts of the city whose pasts are a lot less celebrated.
And some of its historic neighborhoods haven’t even survived to be part of today’s narrative.
Few remnants remain today of certain historic neighborhoods that were lost to redevelopment or some other fate, putting them at risk of being permanently forgotten.
Here are a few of those old neighborhoods and the details still remembered about them today.
North of LaVilla and west of Springfield, a neighborhood called Sugar Hill was once home to some of the city’s most affluent black residents.
The area was developed in the 1880s as an upscale suburb for black Jaxsons during the days of segregation. It boasted many prominent residents including Abraham Lincoln Lewis, founder of Afro-American Life Insurance Company and American Beach.
Like LaVilla, it was a lively center of black culture for many years. But when Interstate 95 was developed in Jax, its path ended up running straight through the Sugar Hill neighborhood, removing several residential properties and effectively cutting the neighborhood in half.
Most of the residents who weren’t displaced by the initial construction ended up moving elsewhere anyway, and what remained of Sugar Hill was further decimated by the continued expansion of what’s now UF Health’s campus at the edge of Springfield.
Nowadays, what was once considered Sugar Hill has largely been absorbed into the surrounding neighborhoods of LaVilla, Springfield, and Brentwood. The memory of the neighborhood lives on with a few of its old buildings as well as a mosaic installed under the I-95 overpass along the S-Trail.