I’ve had some fascinating reactions to walking throughout Jacksonville. Quite a couple of individuals have asked to hitch me for a part of it. Others have questioned my sanity and security.
Take one of the reactions on Twitter after I did a self-guided strolling tour of downtown. The remark got here from somebody in Mandarin with a macho profile image: a bearded man sitting atop a horse, sporting denims, a brief-sleeve white shirt and a cowboy hat.
“Critically? Unarmed walking tour of downtown Jacksonville? I gained’t drive around it, not to mention stroll by means of it.”
If this Jacksonville resident seen simply being downtown as terribly dangerous — even if the statistics say in any other case — it’s protected to say he wasn’t going to hitch me for the subsequent leg of the walk, heading east from downtown toward A. Philip Randolph Boulevard. This is the world where six individuals have been shot lower than a mile from a Jaguars recreation last yr, and where someone was killed the first weekend of 2019.
But here’s who did be a part of me: Melissa Nelson.
Not lengthy after I began this latest walk across the most important city in the Decrease 48, she requested to tag alongside for one piece of it. Together with her schedule as state lawyer for Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit, it took a couple of months to make it work. However we ultimately circled Jan. 9, lunchtime, on the calendar.
So it was a coincidence that she ended up becoming a member of me for this specific leg, beginning the place I completed the downtown walking tour: the previous police headquarters, now a criminal offense lab, on the nook of Liberty and Union streets.
My plan was to make it from there to Metropolitan Park and, finally, the St. Johns River. I informed her we might take one among two primarily equidistant routes. Head south on Liberty and take Bay Road past the Shipyards, jail and Maxwell House. Or head east on Union previous the Previous City Cemetery to A. Philip Randolph, after which go south previous the baseball stadium and area to Bay Road.
“Which have been you planning on doing?” she stated.
I stated I favored the thought of together with the previous cemetery — and not circling around areas of city that I’m nicely conscious some individuals wouldn’t set foot in.
“Let’s do it,” she stated.
We began strolling on Union, going beneath the expressway ramps leading to the Mathews Bridge, and crossing the street resulting in the iron gates of the Previous Metropolis Cemetery.
A helicopter flew over. Someplace within the distance a siren wailed. Then it was quiet.
The land for Jacksonville’s oldest major burial floor was donated to the town in 1852 by Charles Willey, a steamboat captain. It originally was often known as Willey’s Cemetery.
Should you’re on the lookout for a spot to tell the complicated story of this city, of its past and how it relates to its present, you may do worse than this cemetery lively and demise, struggle and peace, race and religion, improvement and decay.
It’s a spot that incorporates the tales of Confederate leaders (Joseph E. Finnegan) and African-American humanitarians (Clara and Eartha White); of Francis Fleming, Florida…