Jacksonville, Florida's "Gateway City", is and has for many years been the state's industrial center. Located on the St.Johns River, the metropolis is today famous for its shipyards and Naval Air Station, aside from being the headquarters for numerous insurance companies and banks. Modern Jacksonville, viewed from the Riverwalk on the South Jacksonville side, sparkles like a jewel at night. The same viewpoint, back in 1931, witnessed an historical occasion...the rebirth of the famous "Old Ironsides", the Naval Frigate "Constitution". The ship, now a fixture of Boston's waterfront, put into service in September, 1797. The 175' Naval Frigate saw action against West Indies pirates, then against British vessels during the War of 1812. It was during those encounters that the crew took note of the cannon-shot careening off of the 12" oak planking and timber sheathing comprising the sides of "Constitution", earning her the nickname "Old Ironsides". She remained an active Man-Of-War, patroling the Mediterranean, until 1828, when it was suggested that the old (by wooden ship standards) vessel be broken up. Outraged at this news, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. wrote his famous poem in tribute to "Old Ironsides" for a Boston newspaper. The piece was picked up by papers nationwide, and public sentiment swayed the final opinion of the powers-that-be. "Constitution" was saved. She was drydocked and restored, the first of her many restorations, in 1833. Throughout the rest of the 1800's she was to serve as a flagship, representing our country to ports around the world, and later as a training and receiving ship, during which time she carried an ungainly house structure atop her decks. She returned, permanently, to Boston in 1897 for her 100th birthday. "Constitution" underwent extensive repair in 1907 and the "house" was removed; she at least now resembled a ship again. Time, however, was taking its toll, what with microorganisms and chemical changes besetting her timbers. Public interest stirred again, and funds were raised for her restoration in a campaign between 1925 to 1927. The campaign was not unlike the more recent one to restore the Statue Of Liberty...even little schoolchildren sent their pennies in to help restore "Old Ironsides". On July 1, 1931, $987,000 later, "Constitution" was recommissioned. At this time she embarked on a 3-year tour of East and West Coast ports, towed by the Navy Minesweeper "Grebe". In December of 1931, they visited Jacksonville for five days, where hundreds of people filed on board to see the famous warship. She departed under tow on the morning of December 21, 1931, the scene depicted here. "Constitution" later became the Navy's flagship during World War II, and is now docked in Boston harbor...to see her beautiful lines today makes one think that she was once slated to be scrapped, in 1828! "Constitution's" towing escort, the "Grebe", later gained the distinction of being present during the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii...and for being responsible for the shooting down of one of the enemy planes that infamous morning. The "Grebe", however, had a much shorter life than that of "Constitution", sinking in a hurricane in an attempt to rescue a ship in the Fiji Islands in 1943.

"Jacksonville" by Paul McGehee
Image Size: 20" x 32" ; Edition Size: 1700 S/N ; Remarqued: 200 A/P
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