RAP Debuts Free Podcast Walking Tour of Historic Riverside | Community Spirit

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RAP Debuts Free Podcast Walking Tour of Historic Riverside

City’s first MP3-based walking tour puts history in the palm of your hand

Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) has released an innovative video podcast walking tour to celebrate Riverside Avondale’s recent designation as one of the American Planning Association’s Ten Great Neighborhoods for 2010. The free, self-guided multimedia tour begins at RAP’s popular Riverside Arts Market (RAM) and concludes in the heart of “new” 5 Points. It allows tour-goers to explore a small slice of historic Riverside and experience first-hand what makes the neighborhood such a wonderful place to live, work and visit. Downloadable tours are a growing trend worldwide, but RAP’s “sound-seeing tour” is a first for Jacksonville.

The walk lasts approximately an hour and covers two miles, winding through and around some 20 blocks of historic Riverside. Among the 40 sites discussed on the tour are several of Riverside’s oldest and most interesting homes—including a haunted house that once played host to Abraham Lincoln’s widow, a grand Jacobethan mansion built for the owner of Maxwell House Coffee and the erstwhile office of Leonard Skinner, the former coach who gave his name to Jacksonville’s most famous band. Those with video-enabled players will enjoy vintage photographs of the various sites on the tour that reveal how the structures have changed over time. At the tour’s conclusion, tour-goers can further explore the historic 5 Points area by selecting one of two proposed routes back to RAM.

The podcast, which mixes educational elements with fun historical details, is narrated by Jean Grimsley, a RAP board member, and Tony Allegretti, downtown activist, author of the blog Urban Core and RAM's inaugural director. The narrators chart the neighborhood’s dramatic growth after the Great Fire of 1901, analyze the burst of architectural innovation that has made Riverside Avondale the most architecturally diverse neighborhood in the state and revisit the stories of the men and women who transformed Riverside into the city’s most elegant suburb and also rescued it from a period of extended decline after World War II.

“We’re always excited to show off our neighborhood,” said Carmen Godwin, RAP’s Executive Director, “and this podcast walking tour gives residents and visitors alike a chance to explore our beautiful historic area on their own time and at their own pace. The tour is great for all ages, helps expose patrons of RAM to more of our district and, best of all, it’s free!” RAP is able to offer the tour without charge because of the generous sponsorship of Dr. Richard Grimsley, an orthopaedic surgeon affiliated with the Riverside Division of Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute.

"The folks at RAP are typically way out ahead on ideas to bring people to their great neighborhoods," said Allegretti. "The Riverside Arts Market is one such example and this podcast is yet another. This walking tour really celebrates the rich history of Riverside, and putting it in podcast form is a terrific example of how to engage the public in a way that they really appreciate."

The tour is easily downloaded from RAP’s website, www.riversideavondale.org, or blog, and can be synced with any MP3 device or mobile media player, including video-enabled smart phones such as the iPhone. The tour also is available for free download from Apple’s iTunes store.

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