Highlighting Florida's "Oldest City"
...St. Augustine

Spanish explorer Don Juan Ponce de Leon first sighted land on Easter, March 27, 1513. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Florida, which means "Land of Flowers". From 1513 to 1563 the Spanish government sent six expeditions to settle Florida. All of these failed. When the French established a fort and colony on the St. John's River in 1564, it threatened the Spanish treasure fleets sailing along Florida's shoreline returning to Spain. King Phillip II of Spain named Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, a Spanish Admiral, as Governor of Florida, with instructions to colonize the territory, and also to drive out all pirates or settlers of other nations. On 8 September 1565 Menendez and 600 soldiers and settlers came ashore at Timucuan Indian Village of Seloy. He fortified the Village and named it St. Augustine. Menendez destroyed the French garrison and, with the help of a hurricane, defeated the French Fleet.

In 1586 Sir Francis Drake from England burned the town, and in 1668 Captain John Davis, a Pirate, plundered the town, killing 60 people. Spain authorized building a stone fort to protect St. Augustine. The Castillo de San Marcos took 25 years to build.

In 1763 the Spanish ceded Florida to England in order to regain the capital of Cuba, starting 20 years of English rule in Florida. During this time the American Revolution took place, but Florida remained loyal to England. In 1783 Florida was returned to Spain, to remain under their rule for 37 years.. On July 10, 1821 Spain sold Florida to the United States of America and they left this land for the last time.

Many difficulties plagued Florida. In 1821 there was a yellow fever outbreak and in 1836 there was an uprising by the Seminole Indians. Florida became the 27th state admitted to the Union in 1845. The fort was renamed Fort Marion, and the East Florida capital was moved from St. Augustine to become part of the state capital in the new town of Tallahassee.

Growth was interrupted by the Civil War in 1861. Florida seceded with the rest of the South, but was occupied most of the war by Union troops. In 1880 the quiet town of St. Augustine began to grow when Henry M. Flagler arrived and developed the town as a resort for travelers.

Fires destroyed many historic buildings between the plaza and the north city gates in 1887 and 1914. Even though St. Augustine is our oldest continually occupied city, today it is one of the world's most well-known cities. There are many places of interest to see. "The Oldest House", "The Oldest Wooden School House", Fort "Castillo de San Marcos", 'The Fountain of Youth", "Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum" and many, many more. Information from: http://www.oldcity.com

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