James B. Crooks


Jacksonville's consolidation with Duval County on October 1, 1968, marked a major turning point in the history of this northeastern Florida coastal city. Prior to this event, Jacksonville and the surrounding Duval County struggled with a variety of problems. Despite rapid growth in the metro area, the city lost population, endured racial conflict, and suffered substantial environmental pollution. While other Southern cities faced many of the same problems, the glamour that soon shone upon the Sunbelt seemed to elude this city on the St. Johns River. Partly it was comparative. Other Florida cities-Miami, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Orlando-had begun to achieve regional, if not national prominence with more rapid population growth, greater economic development, effective leadership and better public relation. So too had Atlanta and other cities of the south and southwest as they became part of the Sunbelt metaphor that Kevin Phillips coined in his 1969 book, The Emerging Republican Majority.