5 Disastrous Urban Renewal Failures

October 19, 2017

While urban renewal was primarily a mid-20th century phenomenon that decimated the cores of America's cities, here's a few disastrous failures that have occurred over the last 30 years.



4. LaVilla - Jacksonville, FL

Once a regimental campsite for the Second Florida Infantry, during the Civil War, LaVilla was an incorporated city of 3,000 residents by the time Jacksonville annexed it in 1887. Because of its strategic location, LaVilla was the city’s railroad hub, primary red light district, and center of African-American life and culture in Northeast Florida.


Google Earth aerial of LaVilla in 1994.

During its heyday, LaVilla's streets were lined with theaters such as the Bijou, Airdome, Globe, Frolic, and Strand. With live music venues like the Lenape Bar, Hollywood Music Store and Knights of Pythias Hall, it was an important stop on what was known as the Chitlin' Circuit for black entertainers. In fact, in 1910, the first published account of blues singing on a public stage occurred in LaVilla. The neighborhood's fortunes took a turn for the worse during 1950s and 60s. Home to the "Great Black Way", its streets were lined with entertainment establishments that played host to famed jazz & blues greats such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday. It's who's who list of former include Ray Charles and James Weldon Johnson.


Google Earth aerial of LaVilla in 2015.

Like many historic neighborhoods across the country, for various reasons LaVilla fell on hard times during the 1960s. In the early 1990s the city relocated the neighborhood's residents and demolished its buildings as a part of the River City Renaissance plan.  In the 20 years after its wholesale destruction, the neighborhood formerly known as LaVilla is characterized by empty overgrown lots and suburban office complexes in the heart of the city.


Courtesy of the Historic Preservation Section, Jacksonville Planning and Development Department



Courtesy of the Historic Preservation Section, Jacksonville Planning and Development Department



Courtesy of the Historic Preservation Section, Jacksonville Planning and Development Department


Courtesy of the Historic Preservation Section, Jacksonville Planning and Development Department



Courtesy of the Historic Preservation Section, Jacksonville Planning and Development Department



Courtesy of the Historic Preservation Section, Jacksonville Planning and Development Department

 PREV 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT 

All rights reserved Modern Cities