In vintage interviews from 1965 and 1992 from WJCT Channel 4, architects Bob Broward and Taylor Hardwick give their insight into the development of Downtown Jacksonville. It’s striking to note how much their vision for downtown still holds true today–and how much we have yet to do.
On December 27, 1964, the Florida Times-Union released a 313-page edition commemorating the newspaper’s centennial. (The paper got its start as the Florida Union in 1864.) Various reporters and contributors dove into every element of the city’s history–from its Timucuan roots and territorial days, to its founding in 1822, to the Great Fire of 1901 and beyond. They also cast their eyes to the future, celebrating the region’s assets and prognosticating about its potential.
Harry Brinton, then Director of Jacksonville Public Libraries, wrote a decidedly prescient piece about the future of libraries. Titled, “Electronic Home Library Forecast,” the article tried to guess what libraries would look like in one hundred years. As you read Mr. Brinton’s article on your computer, tablet or smart phone, we invite you to consider how many of his predictions have already come true:
“What will our library look like 100 years from now? How will it work? These two questions are often asked and with recent advancements in electronic equipment and other mechanized data processing services, some imaginary speculations are offered which may not really be far-fetched.
The library of the future will serve the traditional needs of its patrons and it will also serve as a data processing center for thousands of home “remote stations” electronically geared to request and receive information.
It is entirely possible that by 2064 A.D. the student will have all the information in the library at his bidding in a few seconds. He will be able to sit down at home in a chair in front of a small console, no larger than an electronic organ. He will put on a headset that is a throwback to the old radio crystal set days with modifications by “My Favorite Martian” of the 20th Century.
He’ll spin a telephone dial . . . punch a few keys that will send electronic impulses over a magnetic wire to the central library center where his request will be received, fed into a memory computer and the material sent back to him by television or radio. This presumption is based on recent acceleration tendencies. However, if the material must be retained for reuse later, the console will have receiving apparatus that will be fed from the library’s vast storehouse of microfilmed material.
The “library console” will be a popular home feature three generations from now. Just like the first radios and televisions, the first console models will probably be too expensive for most families to own. The early models will be installed in schools, colleges, clubs and in homes of the very wealthy who can afford it. By 2064 A.D., the “Handy Dandy Library Console” will be one of the best-selling items for the big department stores and mail order houses. Later they will begin to appear at much lower prices after the first excitement wears off.
A mail order model at $299.95 will not compare with the deluxe, $3,500 custom-made console. The less expensive model will serve to bring in a limited amount of library material, such as data from the most popular encyclopedia sets, some other standard reference works, the unabridged dictionaries in several languages and the bound files of the National Geographic and other educational publications and periodicals.
There will be no limit to the potential of the deluxe model. It will be constructed in such a way that additional circuits can be wired in as they are available to expand the library’s remote service.
Already a UNIVAC magnetic tape computer has digested into its memory the thoughts of 74 authors on abstract subjects. Data processing equipment is being used more and more for the mechanization of voluminous files in a variety of areas. So, you see, we’re on the right track. The “library console” is on the way.
We don’t mean to give the idea that books and libraries are on the way out with this talk of electronic computers and home library receiving centers. Books will remain a favored source of information and recreation.
They have many advantages over electronic devices: They can be consulted whenever desired and the reader can turn any page at will; once purchased, they require no further expenditure; and there is no need to have a connection to electronic power or to make costly repairs.
Another predicition for the library of the future that should interest patrons who prefer to feel a book in their hands so they can savor printed words on a page rather than rely on electronic devices, is the possibility that in the future patrons may be able to obtain a fascimile book from the library copied for him by a do-it-yourself vending machine in a few seconds. These books may be taken home and kept.
Libraries will be more inportant than ever a hundred years from now. It is estimated that the sum total of man’s knowledge will be several times greater than at present. The amount of printed matter doubled in the first half of this century, doubled again between 1950 and 1960, and yet again before 1965. Projecting into this future, we will be dealing with billions of volumes as compared to thousands at the present. Therefore, libraries will need to be more efficient to make information more readily accessible. This will require the use of the latest electronic equipment and increased use of microfilm storage.
Not only will more librarians be needed, but the need will be for librarians whose specialized education and training will enable them to cope with the ever-growing mountains of fact, using both the traditional and machine approaches. Books are durable, and since the codex replaced the scroll in the early years of the Christian era, there has been no really important change in the physical form of books or in their manufacture. There have been increases in speed and efficiency, but the process is fundamentally the same as it was in Gutenberg’s day.
No one has any better solution for the assembling of words in a usable, understandable pattern than the simple printed word in a book. What happens to the words after they come out in the books is the key to the library of the future.
On days like today, when fog lies heavy on the horizon and Florida’s famous sunshine only intermittently penetrates the gloom, we’re reminded that there’s always a tension here between expectation and reality, between the myth that is Florida and daily evidence that even the fabled “Land of Flowers” has thorns.
Throughout the region’s history, writers have tried to give voice to that paradox, and perhaps none more ably than Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin (and the woman whom Abraham Lincoln called, “the little lady that started the Civil War”).
Northern soldiers returning from that war carried with them glowing accounts of Jacksonville’s mild, clear winters. Florida was portrayed as an exotic place of natural wonders and powers that could rejuvenate frail health.
Seduced, perhaps, by such reports, as well as the desire to help their son recover from the wounds he’d received as a Union soldier, Harriet Beecher Stowe and her husband, Professor Calvin E. Stowe, purchased a 30-acre orange grove in Mandarin in 1868; they spent their winters there in a cottage under two great spreading oak trees.
Mrs. Stowe was greatly impressed by the region, but also refreshingly realistic. In a series of letters to her relatives in New England, she attempts to disabuse her readers of the notion that the region is perfect: “In New England Nature is an up-and-down smart, decisive, housemother that has her times and seasons and brings up her ends of life with a positive jerk” whereas Nature in Florida is an “indulgent old grandmother, who has no particular time for any thing and does every thing when she happens to feel like it.”
Eventually, Stowe compiled her letters, as well as a series of articles she’d written about the people and natural environment of Mandarin, into the travel memoir, Palmetto Leaves, which was published in 1873. It would become one of the earliest travel guides written about Florida, and is credited with encouraging the state’s first population boom in the 1880s.
Nearly 140 years later, Mrs. Stowe’s descriptions of life in Florida in the latter half of the 19th century–“a tumble-down, wild, panicky kind of life–this general happy-go-luckiness which Florida inculcates“–still resonate . . . especially on days like today, when the sun is discinclined to shine.
From the chapter, The Wrong Side of the Tapestry:
It is not to be denied that full half of the tourists and travelers that come to Florida return intensely disappointed, and even disguised. Why? Evidently because Florida, like a piece of embroidery, has two sides to it, –one side all tag-rag and thrums, without order or position; and the other side showing flowers and arabesques and brilliant coloring. Both these sides exist. Both are undeniable, undisputed facts not only in the case of Florida, but of every place and thing under the sun. There is a right side and a wrong side to everything.
Now, tourists and travelers generally come with their heads full of certain romantic ideas of waving palms, orange-groves, flowers, and fruit, all bursting forth in tropical abundance; and, in consequence, they go through Florida with disappointment at every step. If the banks of the St. John’s were covered with orange-groves, if they blossomed every month in the year, if they were always loaded with fruit, if pine-apples and bananas grew wild, if the flowers hung in festoons from tree to tree, if the ground were enameled with them all winter long, so that you saw nothing else, then they would begin to be satisfied.
But, in point of fact, they find, in approaching Florida, a dead sandy level, with patches behind them of rough coarse grass, and tall pine-trees, whose tops are so far in the air that they seem to cast no shade, and a little scrubby underbrush. The few houses to be seen along the railroad are the forlornest of huts. The cattle that stray about are thin and poverty-stricken, and look as if they were in the last tottering stages of starvation.Meanwhile, we caution everybody coming to Florida, Don’t hope for too much. Because you hear that roses and callas blossom in the open air all winter, and flowers abound in the woods, don’t expect to find an eternal summer. Prepare yourself to see a great deal that looks rough and desolate and coarse; prepare yourself for some chilly days and nights; and, whatever else you neglect to bring with you, bring the resolution, strong and solid, always to make the best of things.
The great charm, after all, of this life, is its outdoorness. To be able to spend your winter out of doors, even though some days be cold; to be able to sit with windows open; to hear birds daily; to eat fruit from trees, and pick flowers from hedges, all winter long, —is about the whole of the story. This you can do; and this is why Florida is life and health to the invalid.