Together with Northside, Westside, and Southside, Arlington is one of the large sections of Duval County. Initially, Arlington was a settlement to the east across the St. Johns River from Jacksonville; today it refers to most of Jacksonville east and south of the St. Johns, west of the Intracoastal Waterway, and north of the Arlington River Southside.
Arlington was one of the first areas in the United States visited by Europeans; it was the site of the French Fort Caroline in 1564-1565, now represented by the Fort Caroline National Memorial. After the destruction of Fort Caroline, the area was only sparsely inhabited until the 19th century, when sawmills and plantations were established along the St. Johns River. After the American Civil War these gave way to residential developments, which were gradually absorbed into the Arlington community as it grew. The construction of the Matthews Bridge in 1953 opened the area up to significantly increased development, and over the next two decades Arlington became fastest growing part of the Jacksonville area.