The Jacksonville Beach pier from an aerial perspective. | Helena Karst
The Jacksonville Beach pier from an aerial perspective. | Helena Karst

PHOTO ESSAY | What is Jacksonville today?

"What is Jacksonville today?" Florida State College at Jacksonville students this summer answered that prompt from Professor of Communication and Media & Digital Media Isaac Brown.

Published on August 8, 2022 at 9:09 pm

Here are some of the best submissions from Brown’s students, as selected by Jacksonville Today journalist and photographer Will Brown. We’ll also include the FSCJ students’ photography from time to time in the Jacksonville Today newsletter and with our news stories.

Water runs deep

Though the Jacksonville Beach pier had yet to reopen when many of the Jacksonville Today photographers visited, hundreds have flocked to the rebuilt pier in the weeks since.

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Boneyard Beach is a mile-long beach in Big Talbot Island State Park that was formed when shifting shoreline killed scores of trees that were previously rooted in the forest that abuts the sea. It is inside Big Talbot Island State Park, a federally protected area of the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve.

Fishweir Creek in Avondale is one of the many tributaries in Jacksonville that flows into the St. Johns River. | Helena Karst

Stepping away from the shoreline

The U.S. purchased Florida from the Spanish in 1821. This region took its name from the Florida’s only Federal Military Commissioner, Andrew Jackson. The general, and eventual president, was the commissioner for less than one year. | Daniel Consolacion

While the river and beach may attract most of the attention, the city has the largest urban park system in the nation. Jacksonville’s 80,000 acres of parks include a trio of national parks, seven state parks, dozens of unique gardens and an arboretum.

San Marco Square has served as a retail and shopping hub for nearly a century. | Aisling Healy
Live oaks used to be more plentiful in Northeast Florida. But there are still places where you can find shade from Jacksonville’s blisteringly hot summers. | Sandra Garcia
Alpine Groves Park in St. Johns | Steven Browning
Riverside | Jeremy Burmeister 

The St. Johns River is instrumental to almost everything Jacksonville has done over the last 200 years. Prof. Brown’s students not only captured the river, but the bridges that traverse it, each of which has played a distinct role in Jacksonville’s development.

Connecting community

The Hart Bridge (top left), captured by Aisling Healy, connects the Southside and the Beaches to Downtown. The Main Street Bridge (top right), which opened in 1941 to provide another automobile route into Downtown (Photo by Charlie Barrineau), is an iconic part of Jacksonville’s skyline. The Dames Point Bridge (lower left), photographed by Daniel Consolacion, is the newest of Jacksonville’s seven bridges. And the Northbank Riverwalk (lower right), captured by Mackenzie Joyce, has become popular with infatuated couples who leave locks on the foot bridge adjacent to the Acosta Bridge Downtown.

Corner of Duval and Main streets, Downtown Jacksonville | Giselle Samuels

author image Reporter email Will Brown is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. He previously reported for the Jacksonville Business Journal. And before that, he spent more than a decade as a sports reporter at The St. Augustine Record, Victoria (Texas) Advocate and the Tallahassee Democrat. Reach him at

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