INTRODUCING Jax in Under 60 Seconds, a new mini-video series produced by The Coastal that offers quick peeks at some of the most interesting places, things, or events in Jacksonville, FL.
The first episode of Jax in Under 60 Seconds focuses on the Myrtle Avenue Tunnel.
The tunnel is a relic of the old Jacksonville Terminal Company, and the days when streetcars carried citizens around downtown Jacksonville and its neighboring areas. The tunnel actually served as a subway back in those days, carrying traffic on the popular public transit system in both directions between downtown and the westside.
Nowadays, the tunnel serves vehicular traffic passing through on Myrtle Avenue near the Bay St. intersection. It can be found underneath the Myrtle Avenue Bridge which carries traffic on I-95 over both the tunnel and the railroad tracks laid over the top of it. (The bridge is not to be confused with any of the seven bridges that pass over the St. Johns River.) As a result of the tunnel’s presence, traffic on Myrtle Avenue is unimpeded by the commercial trains that cross it.
The tunnel still features its concrete platform in between the two lanes. The walls of the tunnel are now coated with graffiti. Not much aside from the platform indicates the former presence of streetcars – many residents drive through the tunnel on a daily basis without any knowledge of the history behind it.
It’s pretty cool to stand on what used to be the subway’s platform inside of the Myrtle Avenue Tunnel and imagine what the city was like back when we had streetcars, and what it might be like if we had them today.
(NOTE: We do not recommend checking this area out after dark – there are a lot of blind spots where cars passing through can’t necessarily see pedestrians, and vice versa, and low lighting only amplifies the problem. If you do go, be extra cautious!)