Atlantic Boulevard (Jacksonville)
Atlantic Boulevard connects the mainland portion of the city of Jacksonville with the Jacksonville Beaches on a barrier island to the east. Its eastern terminus is at San Marco Square in the San Marco neighborhood; it runs to the Atlantic Ocean at the Jacksonville Beaches, forming the boundary between Atlantic Beach on its north side and Neptune Beach on its south side.
Atlantic Boulevard was first planned circa 1890 by Eugene F. Gilbert, a jeweler from Connecticut who had purchased oceanfront property and envisioned a wagon road between the former city of South Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Beaches. Gilbert paid for land surveys and eventually convinced the Duval County Commission to use convict labor to start building the road, but a new set of county commissioners terminated the effort when the project was about two-thirds complete.
The editor of the Jacksonville Evening Telegram published that it was hoped the county commissioners would improve the road and not leave it merely as an opening cut through the woods.
The road was eventually completed in 1910, after the arrival of the automobile. It was Florida's first modern "improved" highway and is considered to have been the beginning of the state's highway system. Its dedication on July 28, 1910, was celebrated with parades and auto races.
The original road was 18 feet (5.5 m) wide, which was soon criticized as being too narrow for the large amount of traffic that the popular road carried between the mainland and the beach. Road surfacing materials used on different sections of the boulevard included shell, concrete, asphalt macadam, and brick laid over a base of sandy soil. The brick sections rapidly became rough and wavy as heavy traffic caused shifting of the bricks and the underlying sand. Just five years after completion of the boulevard, the brick sections were expected to require resurfacing with a more durable material such as concrete.
- Frommer's USA. 2009. Page 364
- Bill Foley, Atlantic, Girvin met on road in 1910, Florida Times Union, 25 July 1998
- Bill Foley, A 'typical Yankee' is to thank for road, Florida Times Union, 20 August 1997
- T. Frederick Davis, History of Jacksonville, Florida and vicinity, 1513 to 1924, Florida Historical Society, 1925.http://ufdc.ufl.edu/NF00000013/00001/Retrieved 2011-12-23
- Walter W. Manley, E. Canter Brown, Eric W. Rise (1997), The Supreme Court of Florida and its predecessor courts, 1821-1917, Florida Supreme Court Historical Society. Page 327.
- Douglas Waitley (2005), Florida History from the Highways, Pineapple Press Inc. Pages 103-104.
- Charles E. Foote, Road Improvement in the Far South, The Horseless Age 35(9), pages 351-352. March 10, 1915.
- Duval County State Roads Traffic Counts - 2008[permanent dead link], North Florida Transportation Planning Organization website, accessed January 12, 2011