Para español, seleccione de la lista

Contact: Mark Ard
[email protected]

PRESS RELEASE: Secretary Byrd Designates Palatka Main Street as Florida Main Street Program of the Month

Tallahassee, Fla. –

Today, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced that Palatka Main Street, located in Putnam County, has been designated the April 2024 Florida Main Street Program of the Month.

“By reorganizing the Main Street, Palatka has committed to embracing the history, assets, and charm of the community,” said Secretary Byrd. “We look forward to working with Palatka Main Street as they begin their journey to help revitalize the historic downtown. This community on the banks of the St. Johns River is reclaiming their place in defining Florida’s northeast corridor.”

Nestled along the banks of the St. Johns River, Palatka invites visitors to immerse themselves in a journey through time. Palatka is situated within the ancestral lands of the Timucua, Seminole, Creek, and other Native tribes, who inhabited the area before Europeans and Africans arrived in the sixteenth century. During Florida’s colonial period, both Spain (1565-1763 and 1783-1821) and Great Britain (1763-1783) laid claim to the area and established plantations along the river. Established as an American trading post in 1821, Palatka burned in 1835 during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). Originally named "Pilotakata" (meaning "crossing" in Muskogee), Palatka developed into a bustling trading hub and tourist destination and was incorporated on January 8, 1853. The city served as an important gateway into the interior of the state, as the St. Johns River provided the major transportation route for settlements upriver.

2023 Blue Crab Festival, Photograph provided by Palatka Main Street

The latter part of the 19th century witnessed Palatka's rise as an economic powerhouse, fueled by the timber and citrus industries. The city became an invaluable junction for several railroads, including the Florida Southern Railroad, the St. Augustine & Palatka Railway, and the Georgia Southern & Florida Railroad. World-class hotels such as the Arlington, Saratoga, and Putnam House attracted visitors drawn by the promise of prosperity and opportunity. Palatka's journey through history has been marked by triumphs and challenges. The devastating fire of 1884 and the Great Freeze of 1894-1895 tested the town's resolve and reduced city tourism revenue for many years. Yet, each time, Palatka emerged stronger, rebuilding its downtown and revitalizing its economy.

In recent decades, Palatka's downtown has seen revitalization efforts aimed at preserving its historical character while adapting to modern trends. Originally organized in 1989, the Palatka Main Street program has focused on enhancing the downtown area, fostering economic development, and promoting cultural activities. In anticipation of reestablishing their hold on commerce and tourist driven activities, revitalization efforts are underway in the historic downtown. The Hotel James, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019, is currently undergoing restoration work, as are several other buildings in the historic district. With a total of nine historic markers within the district, tourists and residents alike can wander the streets, stop to shop and eat, and learn about the history of this dynamic community.

"With the reorganization of Main Street Palatka in January 2024, we are watching as shovel ready projects and ongoing ventures blossom in our Commercial Business District,” said Colin Bingham from Palatka Main Street. “These buildings, which have been abandoned for decades, will contribute a new wave of energy that has come to Palatka. We are especially proud of our young, entrepreneurial families that have and will be opening businesses and are saving our historic buildings. In conjunction with the loyal, long-term participants of the Main Street program, we are all very excited to watch what is developing under our stewardship. The ‘Gem of the St. Johns’ is enhancing its polish."

To learn more about the Florida Main Street program, visit or follow on Facebook.




About Florida Main Street

Florida Main Street is a program administered by the Division of Historical Resources under the Florida Department of State, which currently oversees 57 communities throughout the state. By implementing the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach, Florida Main Street encourages economic development within the context of historic preservation through the revitalization of Florida’s downtowns – the community’s heart and soul.