Arlington can rightfully claim the title of Jacksonville's First Suburb. Beginning with early Native American settlers, inhabitants have moved through the area, attracted by the high bluffs overlooking the river. There are historians who believe that the St. Johns Bluff area was home to one of the largest Native American Councils in the southeast, and there is evidence of Native American presence in the area dating back long before the first European settlers arrived on our shores in 1562.
Though it lays claim to being the oldest city in the U.S., St. Augustine was, in fact, founded three years after the French Hugenots built a settlement at Fort Caroline. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the area we now know as Arlington played host to several large land grants and plantations who traded mostly with one another. After the Civil War, the Arlington area shifted from agriculture to suburban development with the availability of ferry service to downtown .
Little changed here until after WWI when the 1920s real estate boom came to Florida. Adding to the desirabilty of this "new" suburb was the completion of the original Acosta Bridge. The neighborhood grew and installed modern infrastructure that laid the groundwork for the explosion of growth that began in the 1950s.
In 1953, the completion of the Mathews Bridge sparked a flurry of development in Arlington that continued until Consolidation in 1969, and included the development of parks, schools, and most notably, the Regency Square Mall.
Today, Arlington is home to a very large collection of Midcentury style homes, traditional suburban subdivisions, Jacksonville University, and Old Arlington, Inc., a community group that lobbies and advocates for the preservation and revitalization of Jacksonville's first suburb.¹
1.Old Arlington, Inc. (c. 2012) A Brief History of Arlington. Retrieved from myarlington.org/?page_id=383