Jacksonville is the most populous city in the state of Florida and the thirteenth most populous city in the United States.
Since 1968, the city has shared a consolidated government with the county, making it the largest city in land area in the contiguous United States. In 2006, the city proper had an estimated population of 834,789 with a metropolitan population of more than 1.3 million. Jacksonville is the third most populated city on the East Coast, after New York City and Philadelphia. It is the central city of the Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area, the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state.
About 25 miles south of the Georgia border, Jacksonville is in the First Coast region of northeast Florida. The city is centered on the banks of the St. Johns River, which flows north and empties into the Atlantic Ocean about 20 miles east of downtown. The settlement that became Jacksonville was founded in 1791 as Cowford, because of its location at a narrow point in the river across which cattle were once driven. The city was renamed in 1822 for Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of the Florida Territory and eventual seventh President of the United States. A bronze sculpture, copied from an original in Washington, D.C., of Jackson atop a steed stands downtown at the corner of Hogan and Water Streets.
Cultural Events and Fairs
Jacksonville is home to a number of annual cultural events. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is held every April and is the second-largest jazz festival in the nation. Other popular music festivals include The Spring Music Fest, a free concert sponsored by the city that features some of today’s most popular artists,
Planetfest, featuring a variety of modern rock artists, and Springing the Blues, a free outdoor blues festival held in Jacksonville Beach. The Jacksonville Film Festival is held every May and features a variety of independent films, documentaries, and shorts screening at seven historic venues in the city. Past attendees of the festival have included director John Landis and Academy Award nominee Bill Murray and winner Graham Greene, both of whom were awarded the Tortuga Verde Lifetime Achievement Award. The Art Walk, a monthly outdoor art festival, is sponsored by Downtown Vision, Inc, an organization which works to promote artistic talent and venues on the First Coast. Every July 4 is the Freedom, Fanfare & Fireworks celebration, one of the nation’s largest fireworks displays, held at Metropolitan Park and on the surface of the St. Johns River. A very large fireworks display is also held at Jacksonville Beach, centered on the rebuilt pier. The Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair is held every November at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds & Exposition Center, featuring an array of carnival rides, live entertainment, agriculture and livestock. Other annual cultural events include the Great Atlantic Seafood and Music Festival in March, the Blessing of the Fleet Parade of Boats and the Jacksonville International Boat Show in April, the World of Nations Celebration in May, and the Jacksonville Light Parade in November.
The city’s climate is subtropical, but tends to be cooler than the Florida peninsula to the south.
Winters can be marked by spells of cold weather, and limited snow or ice occur once every few years but outdoor events and sports outings can be comfortably accommodated year round.