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St. Augustin, USA’s oldest city

February 20, 2017 Leave a comment

St. Augustin is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States.  It was founded in 1565, and was named by the Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida’s first governor. He named the settlement “San Agustín,” as his ships bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain had first sighted land on the feast day of St. Augustine.  The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years, and became the capital of British East Florida when the territory briefly changed hands between Spain and Britain.

The early years saw much disputes over territory, principally between the Spanish, British and even American Buccaneers.  The harbor was reinforced, and a fortress (Castillo de San Marcos) was completed in 1695.  The British, unable to break the fort, burned St. Augustine to the ground as they retreated.  The city was rebuilt in the layout we see today.   Since the late 19th century, St. Augustine’s distinct historical character has made the city a major tourist attraction, and it is also the headquarters for the Florida National Guard.

It is interesting to walk the streets and to see the old layout of the city.  However, being a major tourist attraction, it is crowded with people and establishments selling goods to tourists.  But walking the old sea wall, and seeing the old houses and churches, gives you an appreciation of the way people lived in our early history.