OPULENCE AND STRIP MALLS
Westside, Ortega and Murray Hill
The Westside covers some of the wealthiest and the poorest sections of Jacksonville, sometimes butted right up against each other. There are pockets of high crime where the Westside and Northside meet, and the landscape in many places is dominated by strip malls (and strip clubs), but there’s a lot to love about the Westside, especially in the distinct commercial districts of two of Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhoods: Murray Hill and Ortega.
Murray Hill hugs the Riverside/Avondale area just west of where U.S. 17 meets I-10. Established at the turn of the century, the neighborhood has a traditional town center with buildings dating back to the 1930s. Both Edgewood Bakery and Dreamette Ice Cream Parlor, which opened in the 1940s, continue to draw crowds of locals out to satisfy their sweet tooth. The Murray Hill Theatre, once a premier movie house, now operates as a Christian music venue. You’ll also find some of the best pizza in the whole area right here at locally owned Moon River Pizza, which opened its Edgewood digs more than 10 years ago.
Some of Jacksonville’s hoi polloi live in Ortega, a mostly waterfront community bound by the St. Johns River to the east and the Ortega River to the north and west. Considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Jacksonville, this little peninsula has the feeling of a place lost in time. Plantation homes sit on quiet streets shaded by old moss-covered live oaks, and children ride their bikes and walk to school. You’ll find quaint shops and restaurants in Ortega Village, a small shopping center with a view of Cortez Park, located well off any major thoroughfare. Carter’s Pharmacy has occupied the same building here since 1955, and is the only pharmacy in the city with a lunch counter, known as “The Fountain” for its roots as a popular neighborhood soda fountain.
Other sections include Lakeshore, where you’ll find Marina Mile, a large playground for the rich with yacht clubs and recreational boating supply stores, along the Ortega River. There’s also a dense accumulation of show bars and adult novelty stores further inland, and the longest-running alternative nightclub in the city, Eclipse.
A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Dreamette Ice Cream Parlor (3646 Post St.)
Edgewood Bakery (1012 Edgewood Ave. S.)
Monroe’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Q (4838 Highway Ave.)
Moon River Pizza (1176 Edgewood Ave. S.)
Puerto Plata (2045 Bayview Road)
Simply Sara’s (2902 Corinthian Ave.)
ECLIPSE (4219 St. Johns Ave.)
The Alibi (1194 Edgewood Ave. S.)
The Jug Saloon (5301 Lenox Ave.)
J&W Discount (4045 Post St.)
Gardner’s Florist (4208 Oxford Ave.)
Max & Company (4128 Herschel St.)
Ortega Village Antiques (2935 Corinthian Ave.)
Stinson Park (4050 San Juan Ave.)
Stockton Park (4021 Ortega Blvd.)
The Museum of Southern History (4304 Herschel St.)
Jacksonville Farmers Market (1810 W. Beaver St.)