LaVilla is a historic black American neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida, and was formerly an independent city. The city developed after the American Civil War and was later joined to the city of Jacksonville in 1887. Currently, it’s considered part of downtown.
Read on to discover four least known facts about Lavilla Jacksonville Florida.
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Chitlin’ Circuit Started in Lavilla
Chitlin’s Circuit was the name given to performance venues in the US that provided cultural and commercial acceptance for black entertainers during racial segregation in the 1960s. People considered the Chitlin to be for the black people.
The Cotton Club and Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Royal Peacock in Atlanta were a few of the popular venues. Get one or two of these books from Amazon if you would love to learn more about Chitlin’s Circuit.
The South’s Biggest Passenger Railroad Station
During the early days, the Jacksonville Terminal was the biggest passenger railroad station in the South. It was an official gateway for Florida’s global travelers. Within this period, the station handled as many as 200 trains daily, including all trains coming in or leaving South Florida.
1944 traffic increased when almost 40,000 trains passed through the station, carrying around 10 million passengers. To efficiently run such a big facility, the Jacksonville Terminal Company employed over 2,000 employees. This made it the second-largest employer in the city at the time.
However, Jacksonville abandoned its biggest station for the present “Amshack” in Northwest Jacksonville when there was a drop in rail travel. Now, the former largest train station is now the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
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Zora Neale Hurston and the Florida Writers Project
A known black American author, filmmaker and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston lived and worked in Jacksonville for many years. However, in 1938, Zora Neale Hurston came to Jacksonville to take part in the Federal Writers Project.
The Writers Project was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s initiative. There were offices in each state for the project. The aim was to provide jobs for struggling writers while building a unique “self-portrait of America.
The project had its headquarters in Jacksonville. Due to the state’s Jim Crow laws, white people had their offices at Downtown’s Dyal-Upchurch Building while black Americans were at the Clara White Mission in LaVilla.
Zora worked with the project’s folklore wing under Jacksonville native Stetson Kennedy. She moved around the state to record and collect stories, traditions, and songs. Zara paid more attention to the rural black communities and turpentine camps.
She ended up gathering and recording authoritative and valuable materials that would have been lost. Here are works of Zora Neale Hurston on Amazon, you can get a few of them to learn more about her contributions to the black race.
First Blues Singing on a Public Stage
Mr. Glickstein and Lionel D. Joel established the Colored Airdome theater at 601 W. Ashley St., in 1909. At that time, Colored Airdome Theater was considered to be the largest exclusively for African Americans in the South. It had 800 sitting capacity.
Coloured Airdome theater was known for its nightly standing room only audiences. Its popular acts were:
- The Cuban soubrette
- Petrona Lazzo
- Chinese impersonator
- Jacksonville Rounder’s Dance
- Mr. Joplin’s Ragtime Dance
Then, in 1910, Colored Airdome theater recorded the first blues singing performed on a public stage.
In general, the LaVilla neighborhood in downtown Jacksonville has a rich history. But some of its history isn’t widely known. The four covered here are among the key but least known facts about the Lavilla Jacksonville. For more facts and history about Lavilla Jacksonville check out these books on Amazon.
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