Downtown Alley’s Light Up the Night Thanks to Grant to Main Street

By Benjamin Cox on February 23, 2024 at 8:41am

The fully illuminated alley on South Main Street.

Downtown Jacksonville’s alleyways are prettier and brighter these days thanks to Jacksonville Main Street and some grant funding.

Jacksonville Main Street Executive Director Judy Tighe says the idea of having lights in the alleys downtown has been around for awhile. She says that the Main Street Design Committee had been looking at ways to make the alleys more inviting and brighter at night both from an aesthetic perspective and due to safety and security. Cors Electric helped get the lights installed.

Tighe says, so far, there are 3 alleyways with lights with more possibly being planned: “It was a project that was just under $7,000. We got $3,500 from DOT Charitable. We have done these first three alleys. They were kind of the obvious choices. If you look at the lights, they zigzag back and forth, and obviously, you have to have something on either side to attach them to. They have been installed high enough that they should allow for trash removal and delivery truck traffic, whoever made need to use the alleys. Our alleys really do get used quite a bit.”

Two of the alleys lie north of East State Street, one starting to the east of Area 51 Bar and Grill with the second to the west of the Knights of Columbus hall in the 300 block of East State. The third is on South Main Street, just north of Good Time Docs in the 200 block of South Main. The electricity for the alley lights are tied to the street light’s timing to come on and shut off. Tighe says the wiring was installed during the renovations of both East State and South Main.

Tighe says the lights also illuminate some of the alleys’ wall art and older ads that are still on display: “The America’s Cup original Wall Dog mural dates back probably 100 years. The original Wall Dogs were people that were paid by companies to travel around the country and paint logos and ads on the side of buildings for particular products. This was a common advertising method or billboard. Many of these products are no longer available. The one that remains on the side of the Knights of Columbus Hall is a beauty and it’s the America’s Cup. We love that one because it was an inspirational piece for some of our other murals in terms of style.”

She says the other reason the lights are being used is to create possible more retail space in the downtown area: “Alleyways we’ve seen in other communities have the potential of basically being a sort of pop-up art gallery, or you could put food trucks and stands in there, vendors for an event. It creates a third space that people can work with for some smaller scale events and maybe showcase some local art. The sky is kind of the limit on what the potential could be. Just getting the lights installed was the first step. With many Main Street projects, there are many steps involved before we get to the end. This is just the first baby step. We’ll see where the next one goes.”

Tighe says that above and beyond making the alleys an extra space for retail and making things safer at night for current retailers, the lights also make the alleys a lot more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.