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Jacksonville is a city located in the northeast of Florida, and is the largest city land-wise in the lower United States. It originated in the settlements of Cow Ford, and a number of other cities in Duval County, including South Jacksonville (later renamed Little Hanover), Riverside, La Villa, Springfield, and Newkirk (Neukirchen).
The city sports a number of European-style commercial districts, including Hanover Street (OTL San Marco), Rostock (OTL Panama Park), Stralsund, Wismar, Oppeln, Breslau, Miltenberg, Freising, Roth, and Würzberg.
After the Civil War, the city grew rapidly as a tourism destination, halted by yellow fever outbreaks. The Great Fire of 1901 burned down a number of areas of the town, leaving over 10,000 homeless. Willy Eisner, a local architect whose grandparents had left Germany in the 19th century, won out as the primary figure in reconstruction of the city, leaving his mark in the large number of Gothic and Neoclassical buildings, and Victorian-style houses around the now urban core, along with skyscraper department stores reminiscent of those found in European cities. To this day, a number of his building still stand, including City Hall.
In the 1910s, New York–based filmmakers were attracted to Jacksonville's warm climate, exotic locations, excellent rail access, and cheap labor. Over the course of the decade, more than 30 silent film studios were established, earning Jacksonville the title of "Winter Film Capital of the World". However, the emergence of Hollywood as a major film production center ended the city's film industry until the 1960's. One converted movie studio site, Norman Studios, remains in Arlington; It has been converted to the Jacksonville Silent Film Museum at Norman Studios. Gaumont Studios re-emerged under new management as Bismarck Studios in the late 1940s, when the DuMont Channel, looking for new talent, began recruiting new shows, and began using local Jacksonville talent. The channel grew slowly but started growing, and remains active today as the number 3 over-the-air channel. Jacksonville houses studios on the Northside and some on the Westside, where the German-language channels ARF (Amerikanisches Rundfunk von Florida), ZAF (Zweites Amerikanisches Fernsehen), and ProSieben Amerika are based.
During this time, Jacksonville also became a banking and insurance center, with companies such as Barnett Bank, Atlantic National Bank, Florida National Bank, Prudential, Gulf Life, Afro-American Insurance, Independent Life and American Heritage Life thriving in the business district. The U.S. Navy also became a major employer and economic force during the 1940s, with the construction of three naval bases in the city.
Due to its history, Jacksonville is a culturally conservative town, with church attendance around 82%, with a strong nuclear family. The city has a balanced budget amendment since consolidation in 1963, and most years has elected Republican Mayors, though its current Mayor, Ed Morris, is a Democrat, and Mike Hassouri was mayor from 1978-86. The city has a sizeable African-American population, which splits nearly evenly between the two parties.
Jacksonville houses a number of local and national television stations to serve its local markets and the nation. Due to the history of German settlement, a large number of citizens in Jacksonville grow up speaking German, and due to large-scale German immigration into the USA, especially after the devastation of World War II, waves of immigrants came into the US, most settling in a belt across the south from Virginia, down to Florida, and across to South California.
Due to the presence of a large German-speaking population, several television stations sprang up in the United States, beginning with a local station in New Braunfels, Texas, started by William Eisenach, as WDAC-TV in 1946. It moved to Victoria, Rio Grande, where his son, Michael, bought the station, and turned it profitable, changing the letters to WDAR, partnering with several Floridian and Georgian stations, then a New York station, forming Deutsch-Amerikanisches Rundfunk, before moving to Jacksonville in 1984, due to economic incentives to moving to the Northside, where it resides to this day. In 1991, ZAF formed, followed by ProSieben and Kinderkanal in the 2000s.