Some History
of the
Myers Park Neighborhood
(and surrounding areas)


Myers Park Neighborhood lies in close proximity to the capitol to the southeast, but is across what was originally a natural stream (City Creek/Spring Branch) between Capitol Hill and Myers Park... and other high ground to the east and south.  Part of the low area through which those streams ran  was used for a variety of public purposes including encampment of U.S. troops during Reconstruction... as is shown in two engravings that appeared Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1868 and 1876 (copies were obtained from the Florida State Archives, Florida State Photographic Collection).   To see these engravings, click on this link.

Tallahassee's first railroad was constructed in the 1830s and ran from the southwest side of the city to St. Marks... but well before the Civil War a line was under construction and planned to run from Chattahoochee to Jacksonville.  That line was completed only from a point a handful of miles east of Quincy in Gadsden County to Jacksonville on the eve of the War.  The tracks ran right through the Cascades in approximately the same place that the railroad runs today, and the "Long Cut" which carried them through the hill from near the Cascades to some distance past Magnolia Drive now runs was completed just before the War, dug by the labor of slaves.  The "Long Cut" was then considered to be quite an engineering feat and even today one does not have to be a civil engineer to marvel that so much earth could be moved in such fashion.  The wail of the train whistle and chugging of mighty engines laboring up the steep grade and around the curve to the northeast were established sounds in the area long before any of the existing homes were built in Myers Park neighborhood, and their coming was at the cost of much labor and and money.  By no means was the railroad laid down as casually as we might think of it being done were it built today, and in that day and time it no one would have considered it a nuisance to local traffic as some see it now.  It was seen as a uniquely valuable innovation when it was built and for many years thereafter.

The Tallahassee city jail, the first city electric plant and its predecessor a coal gassification plant used to manufacture fuel for gaslights, the old city waterworks, and the old city dump and incinerator, all occupied parts of the area at one time or another.  Some of the area was badly polluted, especially by the dump and coal gassification plant... and maybe by transformers near the electric plant,  though this pollution was of no apparent concern until after the state had acquired much of the area and dedicated it as a public park.  Centennial Field, Tallahassee's first public ballpark, was built in the west end of the Cascades in the 1920s and in the 1930s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) channeled the foul ditch that had once been a clear natural stream... and built neat lime rock retaining walls for it.  When the state acquired the land for the Cascades Park in the 1970s, it covered much of the area with hillocks of hauled-in fill and re-routed the ditch at various places starting from just south of Apalachee Parkway to South Gadsden Street.   That rerouting included moving the ditch from the west side to the east side of South Meridian Street by the Old City Jail.  The limestone rock of the reconstructed retaining walls was fitted together to a considerably less meticulous standard than had been followed by the WPA.  Small portions of the WPA construction remain near bridges over the ditch.  A bridge that crossed the ditch near where South Meridian Street terminates just north of the railroad track and curves 90 degrees into Bloxham Street, was bypassed and left landlocked.  Fill placed around that bridge during the Cascades Park project has continued to slump into the cavity under the bridge, leaving small, but deep and dangerous holes in the ground along the edge of Bloxham Street.  Much of the 1970s stonework lining the ditch in the vicinity of the new Korean War Memorial has disintegrated and is now scattered hither, thither and yon.  And no matter its location, the ditch continues to be subject to overflowing with high-velocity storm water runoff during flash-flooding and can be a real hazard to life and property in some circumstances.  The neighborhood's residents will continue to scrutinize plans involving park construction or other land uses in that area.

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This page was created on 5 December 1999.
Most recent revision was made on 21 August 2001.