Orange Park, Florida
|Orange Park, Florida|
Top, left to right: Town Hall, Club Continental, Orange Park Mall, Best Bet, Doctors Lake, the Buckman Bridge viewed from Orange Park
Location in Clay County and the state of Florida
|• Mayor||Pete Morgan|
|• Town Manager||Cindy Hall|
|• Total||5.6 sq mi (14.4 km2)|
|• Land||3.6 sq mi (10.1 km2)|
|• Water||1.7 sq mi (4.3 km2)|
|Elevation||13 ft (4 m)|
|• Density||2,321.2/sq mi (6,011.9/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0288219|
|Website||Town of Orange Park|
Orange Park is a town in Clay County, Florida, USA, and a suburb of Jacksonville. The population was 8,412 at the 2010 census. The name "Orange Park" is additionally applied to a wider area of northern Clay County outside the town limits, covering such communities as Fleming Island, Lakeside, and Bellair-Meadowbrook Terrace, making it one of Jacksonville's most populous suburbs.
The name reflects the hope of its founders for a fruit-growing industry, but their crops were destroyed in the Great Freeze of 1894-95. Despite recovery elsewhere, the crops never came back to Orange Park.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
Founded in 1877 by the Florida Winter Home and Improvement Company. Following the Civil War, the company purchased several thousand acres of the McIntosh plantation at Laurel Grove, for the purpose of creating a southern retreat and small farming community. The town was incorporated in 1879 by a special act of the Florida Legislature.
Orange Park is a suburb of Jacksonville and is located geographically adjacent to the southern border of the city.
Orange Park was the home of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, one of ten regional centers for primate research. The Orange Park center, established in 1930 by psychologist Robert Yerkes and Yale University and the Rockefeller Foundation, was the first laboratory in the United States for the study of non-human primates.
Part of the land on which the Foxwood development sits was once an ape research facility called the Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology (1930–1965). Prior to the Yerkes facility opening in 1930, Yerkes was engaged in his own research with two great apes, aptly named “Chim” and “Panzee”. His findings convinced officials at Yale University, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation to sponsor the Orange Park facility. Initially designed to house about 25 chimpanzees, researchers worked with an estimated 65 chimps (and possibly more) during the lab’s 35-year history. This location was home to chimpanzees nurtured as humans such as Gua (Chimpanzee) and Viki and other primates from the estate of Madame Rosalia Abreu in Havana, Cuba. It was home to some of the leading behavioral scientists of the time, some of whom either liked or hated living in the humid South. These researchers studied various aspects of primate behavior, including basic biology, sensory function, reproductive systems, behavioral patterns, physiology and anatomy. Comically, rumors about the place by Orange Park residents included those of scientists cross-breeding humans with apes. Yet, the term “Monkey Farm” was (and still is) the popular name given to the Yerkes Labs by Orange Park residents.
The plot of land in Orange Park which Yerkes Labs sat upon was 188 acres, about a mile from the village of Orange Park. The actual research buildings sat on less than an acre, on what is now part of the Foxwood Center plaza (facing Orange Park Medical Center on Kingsley Avenue). In 1966, the abandoned buildings and adjacent land were purchased by Developer Marvin Wilhite of Ahpla, Inc., who still lives in Foxwood and built other communities such as Foxridge. He chose the name Ahpla (using a backward arrangement of the letters) after a female chimp named Alpha, who was the first chimp born at the Yerkes Labs on Sept. 11, 1930.
Foxwood Center still has some of the original laboratory buildings that once housed the chimps, the grounds caretaker, and administrative offices. These stand alongside others that have been added, including the Orange Park Chamber of Commerce building. The old caretaker’s house is now The Granary.
In 1956, Emory University took over operation of the Center. In 1965, the center was relocated to the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2002, the Center was renamed the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, though officially the "Regional" name still applies.
Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant was buried at Jacksonville Memorial Gardens (adjacent to the Orange Park Mall) in Orange Park in 1977, but his remains were relocated to an undisclosed location after vandals broke into his tomb and the tomb of bandmate Steve Gaines on June 29, 2000. Van Zant's casket was pulled out and spilled on the ground. The bag containing Gaines' ashes was torn open and some spilled into the grass. Their mausoleums remain as memorials for fans to visit.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.6 square miles (15 km2), of which, 3.9 square miles (10 km2) of it is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) of it (29.73%) is water.
The area known as Greater Orange Park encompasses the unincorporated communities of Fleming Island, Ridgewood, Doctor's Inlet, Orange Park South, and Bellair-Meadowbrook Terrace.
In the last thirty years, numerous residential developments have been built including, but not limited to, Eagle Harbor, Loch Rane Estates, Orange Park Golf and Country Club (developed by Taylor Woodrow communities of the United Kingdom), Eagle Landing Golf and Country Club, Laurel Grove Plantation, Margaret's Walk Plantation, Foxridge, Heritage Hills, Grove Park, Harbor Island, Oakleaf Plantation, Fleming Island Plantation, Stonebridge and Spencer's Crossing (none of which is actually inside of the town limits of Orange Park).
The land where Orange Park Golf and Country Club, Eagle Landing Golf and Country Club, Spencer's Crossing and other communities in the Argyle area used to be part of the massive Spencer family real estate holdings, whose first initial foray into residential homesites was Loch Rane.
Saint Johns River Community College has a big campus on College Drive. Meanwhile, St. Johns Country Day School, a college preparatory institution that regularly has its graduates qualifying to Ivy League universities, is located in the Doctor's Lake / Lakeside area (also not inside of the actual Town of Orange Park).
Orange Park Elementary School, built in 1927 and is a historic building, continues to operate a few blocks from the river. It is adjacent to Moose Haven which sits directly on the River Road Historic District, a stretch of road dotted with century old trees parallel to the Saint Johns River and where many locals come to jog or promenade in the afternoon. A few meters away is Club Continental, previously called Mira Rio. Mira Rio or River Watch in Spanish was the winter palazzo of Caleb Johnson, son of the founder of the Palmolive Soap Company, now the billion-dollar Colgate-Palmolive company.
Many households are either affiliated with the military, with the presence of NAS Jacksonville less than a mile away, or are in the medical field.
As of the census of 2010, there were 8,412 people a 7.4% decline from 2010, 3,464 households, and 2,215 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,331.1 people per square mile (899.0/km²). There were 3,648 housing units at an average density of 936.4 per square mile (361.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 75.9% White, 14.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 3.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races, and 3.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.8% of the population. In addition, mirroring Jacksonville, the town has one of the highest percentage of Filipino Americans in the state of Florida.
There were 3,464 households out of which 23.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 34.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.89.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.0% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 21.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $47,631, and the median income for a family was $58,093. Males had a median income of $36,590 versus $26,846 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,087. About 4.6% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.8% of those under age 18, 17.1% of those age 65 or over.
Greater Orange Park is located inside the Clay County school district and is home to 13 public elementary schools, 3 public junior high schools, and 4 public high schools. Orange Park is also home to many different private schools, including the St. Johns Country Day School, and Fortis College, a for-profit two-year college.
Greater Orange Park is also home to the largest of three campus' of St. Johns River State College, formerly known as St. Johns River Community College. The college is also home to Thrasher-Horne Center for the arts, a performing arts theater used for various plays and events. The college has a regular student base of 2,221 students but also hosts many dual enrollment students from Clay County high schools.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.