In the 1950s and 60s Jacksonville faced daunting problems. Critics described city government as boss-ridden, expensive, and corrupt. African Americans challenged racial segregation, and public high schools were disaccredited. The St. Johns River and its tributaries were heavily polluted. Downtown development had succumbed to suburban sprawl. Consolidation, endorsed by an almost two-to-one majority in 1967, became the catalyst for change. The city's decision to consolidate with surrounding Duval County began the transformation of this conservative, Deep South, backwater city into a prosperous, mainstream metropolis. James B. Crooks introduces readers to preconsolidation Jacksonville and then focuses on three major issues that confronted the expanded city: racial relations, environmental pollution, and the revitalization of downtown. He shows the successes and setbacks of four mayors - Hans G. Tanzler, Jake Godbold, Tommy Hazouri, and Ed Austin - in responding to these issues. He also compares Jacksonville's experience with that of another Florida metropolis, Tampa, which in 1967 decided against consolidation with surrounding Hillsborough County.
James B. Crooks, emeritus professor of history at the University of North Florida, is the author of Jacksonville after the Fire, 1901-1919: A New South City and Politics and Progress: The Rise of Urban Progressivism in Baltimore.