Treaty Oak, Southbank’s gigantic Southern live oak tree, is considered to be the oldest living thing in Jacksonville.
In fact, the tree is technically older than Jacksonville itself. When Jax was founded by Isaiah Hart in the early 1820s, the Treaty Oak had already been there for possibly as many as 50 years.
The true age of the Treaty Oak isn’t known, but it’s guessed to be around 250 years old.
The tree reaches heights of 70 feet at its tallest point, and its tentacle-like branches spread out to around twice that length.
Treaty Oak is located in Jessie Ball duPont Park, a seven-acre parcel of land owned by the city. It’s sandwiched between the Prudential building and a Hampton Inn, juxtaposing a piece of history and nature with urban development.
The park was named for Ball duPont because she had arranged for her husband’s foundation to purchase the land on which the tree sits and donate it to the city. The donation was made with the condition that the city must preserve the tree.
Long before the tree was surrounded by its current neighbors, it was in the middle of “Dixieland”, an ill-fated South Jacksonville amusement park from the early 1900s.
The tree’s name comes from an article by Pat Moran, a reporter from the Florida Times-Union, that’s also widely credited for saving the tree’s life.
Moran penned an article centered around the tale of a treaty between native Florida tribes and outside settlers. The story, as it turned out, was completely false – an early, benevolent example of “fake news”. It caught enough traction to scare developers away from the land, and gave the tree a new title: the Treaty Oak.
Check out some of these great shots we took of the Treaty Oak and the surrounding park below.