Jacksonville, Florida

The Location

Jacksonville, FL is the largest city by population in Florida, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. With an estimated population of 853,382, it is the most populous city in Florida and the 12th most populous in the United States.

Jacksonville is centered on the banks of the St. Johns River, about 25 miles south of the Georgia state line and about 340 miles north of Miami. The Jacksonville Beach communities are along the Atlantic coast. The St. Johns River divides the city. The Trout River, a major tributary of the St. Johns River, is located entirely within Jacksonville.

Arts and Entertainment

Jacksonville operates the largest urban park system in the United States, providing facilities and services at more than 337 locations on more than 80,000 acres located throughout the city. Jacksonville owes much of its natural beauty to the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean. Many parks provide access for people to boat, swim, fish, sail, jet ski, surf and water ski. Several parks around the city have received international recognition.

Hemming Plaza is Jacksonville's first and oldest park. It is downtown and surrounded by government buildings. Riverside Park and Memorial Park are the city's second and third oldest parks (respectively), and located in the historic Riverside area. 

The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts consists of three distinct halls: the Jim & Jan Moran Theater, a venue for touring Broadway shows; the Jacoby Symphony Hall, home of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; and the Terry Theater, intended for small shows and recitals. The Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is a 16,000-seat performance venue that attracts national entertainment, sporting events and also houses the Jacksonville Sports Hall of Fame. 

A number of cultural events are also held in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jazz Festival, held downtown, is the second-largest jazz festival in the nation, while Springing the Blues, one of the oldest and largest blues festivals, has been held in Jacksonville Beach since 1990. The World of Nations Celebration has been held in Metropolitan Park since 1993, and features a number of events, food and souvenirs from various countries. The Jacksonville Film Festival, held at seven historic venues in the city, features a variety of independent films, documentaries and shorts.

The city center includes the Jacksonville Landing and the Jacksonville Riverwalks. The Landing is a popular riverfront dining and shopping venue, accessible by River Taxi from the Southbank Riverwalk. The Northbank Riverwalk runs 2.0 miles along the St. Johns from Berkman Plaza to I-95 at the Fuller Warren Bridge while the Southbank Riverwalk stretches 1.2 miles from the Radisson Hotel to Museum Circle. Adjacent to Museum Circle is St. Johns River Park, also known as Friendship Park. It is the location of Friendship Fountain, one of the most recognizable and popular attractions for locals as well as tourists in Jacksonville. 

Jacksonville is home to a number of museums including the Cummer Museum of Art and Garden, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA Jacksonville) and the Museum of Science & History — featuring the area's only astronomy theater, the Bryan Gooding Planetarium. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens boasts the second largest animal collection in the state. Adventure Landing is an amusement park with locations in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach. The Jacksonville Beach location contains Shipwreck Island, Duval County's only water park.

Jacksonville is home to one major league sports team, the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL).

Education

Public primary and secondary schools in Jacksonville and Duval County are administered by Duval County Public Schools. It administers 172 total schools, including 103 elementary schools, 25 middle schools, 19 high schools, 3 K-8 schools, and 1 6-12 school, as well as 13 charter schools. Of these, 62 are designated magnet schools.

Three of Jacksonville's high schools, Stanton College Preparatory School, Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts and Paxon School for Advanced Studies regularly appear at the top of Newsweek magazine's annual list of the country's Top Public High Schools, coming in respectively at #3 #7, and #8. Five other schools, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (#33), Mandarin High School (#97), Duncan U. Fletcher High School (#205) Sandalwood High School (#210), and Englewood High School (#1146) were also included in the list.

Jacksonville is home to a number of institutions of higher education. The University of North Florida (UNF) is a public institution and a member of the State University System of Florida. Jacksonville University (JU) is a private institution founded in 1934. Edward Waters College, established in 1866, is the oldest college in Jacksonville and the state's oldest historically black college. Florida State College at Jacksonville is a state college and a member of the Florida College System, offering two-year associate's degrees as well as some four-year bachelor's degrees. The University of Florida has its second campus of the J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center in Jacksonville.

Other colleges and universities in Jacksonville include Florida Coastal School of Law, The Art Institute of Jacksonville, Jones College and St. Johns River State College.

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