During my active duty military service I had the opportunity to live in and visit many different cities. Of all the cities I lived in, I spent most of my military time in Charleston, S.C. and Jacksonville, FL. Charleston and Jacksonville were similar in size, geography and population types, but differed greatly in history, weather, and the overall attitudes of its residents. If I had to choose between the two cities as the place to call my home, it would be without a doubt, Charleston, S.C.
Charleston and Jacksonville were both considered large port cities, each with a portion of their populations consisting of military families. Although Jacksonville was larger in area than Charleston, folks who lived in the Charleston area considered James Island, Johns Island, Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms and North Charleston as being part of the greater Charleston area. Including these areas made Charleston feel similar in size to Jacksonville.
Charleston and Jacksonville had a steady flow of cargo and container ships. Ships accessed the port of Charleston by way of the Cooper River, while the port of Jacksonville was accessed from the St. John’s River. Both port cities shipped and received automobiles, food, bulk, and break bulk containers of miscellaneous goods.
Another similarity between these two cities was the existence of military installations, which brought large numbers of military families to these cities. The U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force all had bases in Charleston, while Jacksonville was home to the U.S. Coast Guard, a U.S. Naval Air Station and the Florida Air National Guard.
Despite the similarities between the two cities, there were also many differences. Charleston and Jacksonville differed greatly in history, weather and the overall attitudes of their residents. While living in Charleston, it seemed that around every corner was a piece of history or a sign pointing in the direction of a piece of history. A few of the many historical sites of Charleston were Rainbow Row, The Market, Fort Sumter and The Battery lined with colonial houses and civil war cannons. Jacksonville had its’ historical sites, although there were just a few and it took some research and effort to find them. Jacksonville was known more as a modern city that began to grow and blossom after the Civil War. It was considered a “victim of war” due to the dilapidation it suffered during the Civil War.
The climates of Charleston and Jacksonville were generally considered to be similar, hot and very muggy. My experience was that there was still a large difference and I had come to feel as though each city’s climate resembled the attitudes of its residents, or maybe it was just the opposite. Residents of Charleston were laid back and unrushed while the residents of Jacksonville were impatient and...