Nestled snugly between Riverside and the Westside, the burgeoning neighborhood of Murray Hill is like the hinterland of the urban core. The hundred-plus-year-old hamlet has experienced a resurgence in popularity over the past several years, attracting young people and new businesses in droves. The once sleepy, blue-collar suburb is now home to a delightful mix of young families, legacy residents, and aging hipsters fleeing the rising rental prices of the more established urban neighborhoods. Edgewood, the main artery dividing the eastern and western halves of the community, has transitioned from a sad strip of dilapidated or vacant storefronts to a thriving, vibrant destination in what seems like no time at all.
So just what is it about this quiet little piece of heaven that has everyone opening businesses and snatching up real estate? Well, allow me (and some other Murray Hillians) to illuminate you.
It should come as no surprise that the first thing on my list is food-related. Your boy likes to eat, ok? It wasn’t long ago that decent places to get a bite on Edgewood were few and far between. But these days the block is chock full of above average options for every single meal, including dessert (I’m looking at you, Dreamette!). You name it, the Hill’s got it. Breakfast? Edgewood Diner’s coming through with your classic diner fare, Maple Street Biscuit Company has got the biscuit game on lock and Vagabond Coffee has your coffee needs covered. You can’t go wrong with a pita sandwich from Gina’s Delicatessen at lunchtime and there are no shortage of dinner options. Pizza? Moon River Pizza, duh. Tacos? All you can handle, bro! Oh, and it’s home to the most inventive vegan food in the city. It’s even become a destination for home cooks to stock up on literally the best bread in town, a cheese and charcuterie store with a selection that blows every grocery store out of the water, a damn good wine shop, and even a Cambodian food store!
New Bars (and old ones too)
All that eating will make you thirsty and Murray Hill has more than a handful of places to wet your whistle. The best thing about the bars on Edgewood is the mix of old school dives and hip, new watering holes. If you really want to get down with the locals, you can go full incognito as you bully the jukebox and belly up to the bar at The A Tavern, sing karaoke damn near every night of the week at Tradewinds or shoot some pool at Perfect Rack Billiards (liquor coming soon!). Or you can play it “safe” at nice, respectable establishment like Town Beer Co., listen to punk records at The Flamingo, or sample some craft brews at Murray Hill’s very own neighborhood brewery, Fishweir Brewing Company. It’s all pretty low key too so you don’t have to worry about big crowds and if you lived here you could probably walk or ride your bike and have a better than decent chance of getting home in one piece. It’s a beautiful thing, really.
Business is Booming
It seems like something new opens its doors every other week. Storefronts that have been vacant for decades are getting new tenants and yet there are still plenty left for the taking. And it’s not chains or pawn shops or fro-yo places either. “Some of the city’s coolest businesses are on Edgewood, and there is still so much room to grow,” says Donnie Webb, one of the new, young entrepreneurs on the block. When Webb found an opportunity to open his beer bar, the Flamingo, next to the Jacksonville institution that is Moon River, he jumped on it. Business has been good so far but for people like Webb, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about being a part of something and building it together. “Community is everything in Murray Hill,” he explains. “You can feel it. Everyone is working together to identify the needs of the neighborhood to reach its full potential.”
The Living is Easy
A Murray Hill resident himself, Paul Soud is a part-time realtor with Traditions Realty who has helped clients find the home of their dreams. “As a Jacksonville native, I saw the ability to be part of the revitalization of a historic neighborhood,” Soud says of what personally drew him to these streets. “I appreciate how walkable and bikeable it is compared to most of the city.” Living in Murray Hill isn’t just about being a part of the rising tide, it’s also a really wise and practical investment. “Murray Hill is in a unique position in the market,” Soud says. “House sizes and styles are variable and the single person or young couple can easily find something affordable for their first home, but there are also larger places suited towards families.” Because of its proximity to neighboring Riverside and easy access to I-10, it’s location can’t be beat and neither can the prices, though they are on the rise, a trend Paul and others don’t see slowing down as the area continues to develop.
It’s a Vibe
Perhaps it’s the combination of all the above benefits and attractions, or maybe something in the water, but Murray Hill seems to attract an engaged and creative type of person. “There is an immense amount of talent in Murray Hill,” says Webb. “Musicians, bakers, brewers, artists, photographers, videographers, magicians, coffee roasters, chefs, and pro skaters are living on every block. I’d be shocked if there wasn’t an astronaut somewhere.”
You probably won’t see any astronauts, but the rest tend to gather at the monthly Vagabond Flea Market pop-up in the parking lot adjacent to the Murray Hill Theatre. Makers, thrifters, food trucks and more hawk their wares while residents pushing strollers or walking their dogs mix and mingle. For those looking to embrace and develop their creative side, the neighborhood even boasts its very own arts center that teaches classes in everything from pottery to figure drawing to sculpture and much more.
So there you go! Murray Hill is great. And the best part about it is that while other parts of town seem to give off that “welcome to (blank), please don’t move here” kind of vibe, the Hill is still a very inviting and accepting place to live and play. Come see for yourself!