About The Bridges of Jacksonville
Jacksonville was built around water; wide, peaceful rivers, lakes big and small, brackish inlets and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s no surprise that getting from Point A to Point B means you’ll likely have to cross a bridge or two. There are seven iconic bridges connecting the micro-neighborhoods in sprawling Duval County. Here’s some history about each of Jacksonville’s bridges and what you can expect to find on either side!
Main Street Bridge
Official Name: John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge
One of the most distinctive bridges in the Jacksonville skyline is the John T. Alsop Bridge, or as the locals know it, the Main Street Bridge. Named for former Mayor Alsop, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s original Rough Riders, the blue bridge is as much a part of the Jacksonville skyline as the buildings behind it.
The northern end of the Main Street Bridge exits into Downtown JAX. It’s the only bridge in the area with a movable bridge body. The design of the bridge uses trusses that lift it up vertically, keeping it parallel while allowing ships to pass underneath.
One of the best views of the Main Street Bridge on the south bank of the river by popular Friendship Fountain. The fountain is located in Friendship Park and connects to the Southbank Riverwalk, a great spot for a sunset walk The park offers some pretty awesome views of downtown, including the MainStreet Bridge coming alive at night in vibrant blue
Fuller Warren Bridge
Official Name: Fuller Warren Bridge
The Fuller Warren Bridge is the newest bridge to open on our list as it was finished only 18 years ago. This may be one of the most important bridges of Jacksonville since it merges two superhighways, I-95 and I-10, with eight lanes of crazy traffic. The bridge is named Fuller Warren after a former Florida governor.
The bridge runs right into Riverside so stopping at River and Post for a rooftop drink to take in the views is a must! For fans of fine arts and nature, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is right around the corner and includes more than 5,000 works of art. If you are looking to support local businesses, the Riverside Arts Market is a weekly market held on Saturdays featuring local artists, vendors and a farmer’s market – all taking place in a paved, shaded area underneath the Fuller Warren. There is certainly no shortage of activities surrounding this structure!
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Official Name: St. Elmo W. Acosta Bridge
The St. Elmo W. Acosta Bridge earned its name from a city councilman responsible for getting voters to approve funding for the original bridge site for $950,000 dollars. The original bridge, known as the Yellow Monster, was finished in 1921 and was the first to cross the St. Johns River. In 1991, the Yellow Monster was closed and the Acosta Bridge we see now was built.
Those looking for a pedestrian friendly bridge should venture to the Acosta Bridge. From bicycles, cars, sidewalks and the Skyway rails, the Acosta Bridge has it all. It also happens to be walking distance to the Main Street Bridge, so consider checking out both bridges in the same stop. If you are headed to Times Union Center for the Performing Arts to catch a performance of opera or theatre in one of the three complexes they house, you’ll have great views of the Acosta Bridge as well.
Official Name: John E. Mathews Bridge
The Mathews Bridge is named after John E. Mathews, a member of the House of Representatives, who advocated heavily for the construction of this 1.5 mile long bridge connecting Arlington and Downtown. Coming from Arlington, the Southside and the Beaches, the Mathews Bridge takes drivers directly to TIAA Bank Field, Veterans Memorial Arena and 121 Financial Park, where the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp play. The bridge was originally painted silver but now sports a unique maroon color believed to have been in support of the USFL team, the Jacksonville Bulls, before the NFL Jaguars came to town.
By 1953 when the Mathews Bridge opened, there were only two other bridges crossing the St. Johns River. The population in Duval County was expanding rapidly outside the Downtown city center, so new bridges were a must to cope with a growing town. The Mathews Bridge was a game changer for the city of Jacksonville and made getting to the beaches from Downtown much easier.
Henry H. Buckman Bridge
Official Name: Henry Holland Buckman Bridge
The Buckman Bridge may have a claim to fame as one of the longest bridges in the country at 16,300 feet, or about 3 miles, but due to the frequent traffic jams, it may be the least favorite among local commuters. The bridge got its name from Henry Holland Buckman, a Jacksonville native legislator. He is best known for the Buckman Act organizing the state’s universities into three categories, one for women (now Florida State University), one for men (now University of Florida) and one that was racially segregated (now Florida A&M University).
The bridge connects Orange Park and Fleming Island to the rest of Jacksonville and is essential for anyone traveling to the Southside. The Buckman is not pedestrian or cyclist friendly, but driving over the bridge offers several minutes of unobstructed views toward Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Downtown in the distance.
Dames Point Bridge
Official Name: Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge
The Napoleon Bonaparte Broward Bridge received its name from yet another former Florida governor, but everyone around here calls it the Dames Point Bridge. Dames Point is a subtle nod to the area’s Naval roots, and the many wives who awaited the return of their sailors from sea.
The Dames Point Bridge is the eastern-most bridge in Jacksonville and is the first seen by ships entering the St. Johns River from the Atlantic Ocean. It serves as the connection between northern Jacksonville and the rest of the city and also crosses over Bartram Island, once known as Quarantine Island. The bridge uses a “cable-stayed” design meaning the cables are responsible for holding it up. There are more than 20 miles of cable that span over 10,000 feet in length!
If you are looking for activities to do around the Dames Point Bridge, the Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park is a great place to take a walk and even bring a picnic. It is also not too far of a drive from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens where you can feed the cutest giraffes, free with your ticket admission.
Official Name: Isaiah D. Hart Bridge
The seafoam green Hart Bridge may be the prettiest of all the bridges of Jacksonville with its massive size and bright lights illuminating it at night. Though it has earned its nickname as the “Green Monster,” this bridge was named after the city’s founder, cattle trader Isaiah Hart.
The Hart Bridge is an infamous part of the course for the annual GATE River run, the largest 15k race in the country. Connecting the Southside and Downtown, it runs right into the TIAA Bank Field Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. If you’re visiting during football season, make sure to catch a game. If you’re not around for football season and still looking for something to do, Daily’s Place and the Veterans Memorial Arena are close by for concerts, hockey and more.
Keep in mind that these are Jacksonville’s most famous, most iconic bridges, but with so many waterways to traverse, there are plenty of other smaller, less spectacular ones that we didn’t include.
Which of the bridges of Jacksonville, Fl., will you check out? Which one do you think is the most Instagrammable? Let us know in the comments below!