November 17, 1919
A new train terminal made its debut with hardly any fanfare in Jacksonville, Florida, at a time when that city was increasingly evolving into a vital railroad hub. At a minute past midnight, regular operations at the Jacksonville Terminal formally began when its superintendent J.C. Blanton said to his crew, “Open the doors, boys, let’s go.” The facility’s personnel ended up processing approximately 110 trains and 20,000 passengers altogether on that first day alone.
This terminal was the second one to be built there in Jacksonville’s LaVilla neighborhood. The first terminal had been in existence since 1883. The new structure was modeled closely after New York City’s Penn Station. At the time of its opening, the Jacksonville Terminal was the largest U.S. train terminal south of Washington, D.C. The building’s key features included a 180-foot (58.4-meter)-wide façade of 14 Doric limestone columns at the entrance of a main waiting room that measured 80 by 125 feet (24.4 by 38.1 meters).
The Jacksonville Terminal eventually accommodated 32 tracks, 29 of which were designated for passenger trains. (Many of these passenger trains consisted of 18 to 22 railcars each.) As many as 200 trains per day and 15 million passengers annually made their way to and from the Jacksonville Terminal during its peak years in the 1940s.
Ultimately, however, the Jacksonville Terminal was shut down due to both decreased rail travel nationwide and high maintenance costs. The longtime railroad services at this terminal were halted altogether after a final train left there on January 3, 1974. A dozen years later, a convention center incorporating the Jacksonville Terminal was opened at that site and remains in operation there today.
Image Credit: Public Domain
For more information on the Jacksonville Terminal, please check out https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2007-aug-inside-the-jacksonville-terminal