St. Augustine is the oldest city in America and was founded by the Spanish in 1565. The city of St. Augustine was founded by the Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on September 8, 1565. Menéndez first sighted land on August 28, the feast day of Augustine of Hippo, and consequently named the settlement San Agustín.
In 1586 St. Augustine was attacked and burned by Sir Francis Drake. In 1668 it was plundered by pirates and most of the inhabitants were killed. In 1702 and 1740 it was unsuccessfully attacked by British forces from their new colonies in the Carolinas and Georgia.
In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War and gave Florida and St. Augustine to the British, an acquisition the British had been unable to take by force and keep due to the strong fort there. St. Augustine came under British rule and served as a Loyalist colony during the American Revolutionary War.
The Treaty of Paris in 1783 gave the American colonies north of Florida their independence, and ceded Florida to Spain in recognition of Spanish efforts on behalf of the American colonies during the war. Florida was under Spanish control again from 1784 to 1821.
The expanding United States, however, regarded Florida as vital to its interests. In 1821, the Adams-Onís Treaty peaceably turned the Spanish colonies in Florida and, with them, St. Augustine, over to the United States. Florida was a United States territory until 1845 when it became a U.S. state.
Spanish Colonial era buildings, still existing in the city, include the fortress Castillo de San Marcos. The fortress successfully repelled the British attacks of the 18th century, served as a prison for the Native American leader Osceola in 1837, and was occupied by Union troops during the American Civil War. It was removed from the Army's active duty rolls in 1900 after 205 years of service under five different flags. It is now the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
In the late 19th century, the railroad came to town, and led by northeastern industrialist Henry Flagler, St. Augustine became a winter resort for the very wealthy. A number of mansions and palatial grand hotels of this era still exist, some converted to other use, such as housing parts of Flagler College and museums.
The city is a popular tourist attraction, for the rich Spanish Colonial Revival Style architectural heritage as well as elite 19th century architecture. The city is also one terminus of the Old Spanish Trail, which in the 1920's linked St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California with 3000 miles of roadways.
People come from all the over the world to vacation at Saint Augustine’s beachfront, as well as visit the renowned St. Augustine Lighthouse, famous St. George Street (St. Augustine’s historic pedestrian shopping mall), where you will find the oldest home and oldest school house in America. There is sea kayaking, deep sea fishing, and diving for outdoors types, as well as kite surfing at Anastasia Island State Park.
Golfers will find links designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer at the nearby World Golf Village resort, and additional locally famous courses at Palencia and Marsh Creek Country Clubs pleasant and challenging diversions.
Lastly, any discussion of the St. Augustine experience would be incomplete without mentioning its myriad dining possibilities. Many fine restaurants grace the city, most notably the luxurious food offerings at 95 Cordova, the elegant bistro dining at Cortessi’s, and Cap’s, located on the water and known for its fresh-from-the-ocean seafood.
Yearly events, which draw people from all over the world, include the Players Championship TPC at Sawgrass in May, the Lighthouse Festival, which takes place in March every year, the Colonial Folk Arts and Crafts Festival in October, and in November and December the Old City is decorated for the Nights of Lights Festival.
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