Changing Jacksonville: Then and Now

An interesting comparison of 1943 and current aerials illustrating the impact of expressways penetrating through various Jacksonville neighborhoods and districts.

Imeson Airport

For over 40 years, Jacksonville Municipal Airport Imeson Field was the center of the region’s commercial aviation scene. Opening in 1927 with a dedication that included Charles Lindbergh, it served as the headquarters for National Airlines. National was the first airline to introduce domestic jet service in the United States. With larger jet aircraft coming on line and limited room to expand, Imeson was abandoned and replaced with the new Jacksonville International Airport during the late 1960s. In 1970, the former 1,500-acre airport was acquired and redeveloped into the Imeson International Industrial Park.

Craig Airport

Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport was all alone when it opened along Atlantic Boulevard in 1943. Now a stone’s throw from I-295 East Beltway, the airport’s neighbors included a line of automobile dealerships and strip malls.


Lake Shore was still in its infancy when Roosevelt Boulevard was built. Fueled by the growth of Naval Air Station Jacksonville during World War II and one of the city’s first enclosed shopping malls, Lake Shore was largely developed by the end of the 1960s.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Adobe Photoshop aerial overlays by Ennis Davis, AICP. 2016 aerials courtesy of Google Earth. 1943 historic aerials courtesy of the University of Florida George A. Smathers libraries Digital Collection. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro and — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at