The Nation’s Oldest City
Juan Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida was made somewhere near St Augustine in 1513. He named the land Pascua Florida “Flowery Easter,” as he spotted the land during the Easter Season, and claimed the land for the Spanish crown. French exploration of the Northeast Florida area began in 1562. Frenchman, Jean Ribault, explored the St. Johns River to the north of St. Augustine in what is present day Jacksonville where a colonization effort was established on the St. Johns River and named Ft Caroline.
The Spanish quickly followed to the area. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the founder of St Augustine, named the territory San Agustin in 1565. The Matanzas Bay is named after the slaughters that took place on Anatasia Island. The founding of St. Augustine in 1565 makes this beautiful coastal city the oldest continually inhabited city in America. In 1672 the Spanish began construction of the Castillo de San Marcos which is the nation’s oldest fort.
The Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War in 1763 gave Florida including St. Augustine to the British and 3,100 Spaniards departed from St. Augustine. The Treaty of Paris in 1783, which gave the American colonies their independence also returned Florida to Spain. The United States of America gained Florida as a territory in 1822. Florida became a state in 1845.
Henry Morrison Flagler
Henry Flagler arrived in Florida in the 1880s and began building what became a winter resort for northerners. Flagler bought local railroads and incorporated the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC), which constructed the railway through the Keys that was to become the Overseas Highway. FEC was headquartered in St. Augustine. Flagler contracted the New York architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings to design a number of extravagant buildings in St. Augustine, among them the Ponce de Leon Hotel and the Alcazar Hotel. Flagler built or contributed to several churches in St Augustine.
Today shops, restaurants and inns are woven in among the old buildings and attract tourists from around the world and enchant the locals.
Daytona “The World’s Most Famous Beach”
In 1889 Henry M. Flagler purchased the St Johns & Halifax River Railway who made it part of his Florida East Coast Railway which had just reached the Daytona area a few years before. Daytona, Daytona Beach and Seabreeze merged to form “Daytona Beach” in 1926. During the Roaring 20s Daytona Beach was known as “The World’s Most Famous Beach”.
The compacted sand of Daytona Beach attracted automobile and motorcycle races in the early 1900s. Cars are still permitted on the beach. Daytona International Speedway was created to replace the racing that was previously done on the beach.
St Augustine’s Rich History
St. Augustine’s rich history is unique mix of both old and new. St Augustine has a unique set of modes for touring the city: horse drawn carriages, sightseeing trams, cruise boats and walking. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. The Mission of Nombre de Dios, the Ponce de Leon and Alcazar Hotels; which are now home to Flagler College, St. Augustine City Hall and Lightner Museum. The Casa Monica Hotel built in 1888 has been restored into a luxury hotel. Many homes are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the modern homes adopt the Old Florida style. Whether looking to buy a home or rent in St. Augustine, you will certainly find something to suit your taste and needs.