The City Destroyable

In an ill-advised move to position Jacksonville as the bland new city of the south, the Curry administration adopted the slogan It’s Easier Here. I don’t need to tell you why that’s a horrible slogan—you are reading Folio, which means you are a functioning human. 

Some cities adopt slogans that unify, like Columbus Ohio’s cheeky Columbus campaign. Or uplifting slogans, like Orlando’s The City Beautiful.  These send a succinct overarching message to visitors, businesses, and citizens. It’s Easier Here is just a lie. 

May I suggest for Jacksonville: The City Destroyable. After all, it seems that City Council is determined to allow historic buildings to be demolished left and right, even as historians and preservationists sound alarms about their significance. 

The latest building to meet its fate, Kartouche as it is colloquially called, was demolished into a pile of bricks. Soon to be an empty field, the lot may someday turn into a gas station. Kartouche, like its few neighboring buildings in LaVilla, was home to performances by Black entertainers across decades. From Ludacris and Pharrell to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, LaVilla’s storied past is being razed in favor of a corporate future. Moreover, Jacksonville’s Black history is being destroyed by its White leaders. 

While Ludacris and Pharrell may not be historic enought to warrant landmarking Kartouche, it’s hard to imagine needing to raze a building for a gas station, especially when there are empty lots throughout downtown, ready to be utilized. With the majority of its original buildings gone,  the history of Lavilla is now relegated almost entirely to plaques and the Ritz museum. 

Tourists and Jaxons alike often lament the lack of culture in Jacksonville. Those remarks aren’t always fair, but The City Destroyable is trying it’s hardest to make them true. When Curry promised on election night that we wouldn’t recognize downtown in four years, he was right. Being unrecognizable is the point. 

But don’t worry, I’ve heard there might be electric charging stations.