These photographs represent some of the hotels built in Jacksonville between the 1880s and 1940s. Before and after the Civil War, the earliest travelers to the east coast of Florida came to Jacksonville via steamship. The more intrepid visitors used Jacksonville as a base for exploring the chain of lakes that make up the St. Johns River.
Flagler and Plant’s railroads brought the next wave of tourists to Jacksonville in the late 1800s. They stopped at the riverfront city for a night or two before venturing onward to the luxurious resorts in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Palm Beach, and Miami.
By the early 20th century, automobiles and improved roads made travel to Florida easier. Tourists poured into the Sunshine State by the carload.
The Great Jacksonville Fire of 1901 destroyed many buildings downtown, including a number of hotels. Jacksonvillians rebuilt their city and constructed new hotels to entice travelers. The photographs below, from the 1930s and 1940s, represent the final golden age of hotels in downtown Jacksonville before redevelopment altered much of the city following World War II.