20 Facts About St Augustine, FL
St Augustine is an old city in the northeast of Florida with an interesting and important place in US history. It is also a popular destination for tourists and day trippers.
Here are my twenty facts about St Augustine, FL.
1. St Augustine was founded by the Spanish explorer and admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565.
2. The city is the oldest continuously occupied city and port established by Europeans in the continental United States.
3. The population of St Augustine was 12,975, according to the 2010 census.
4. The city is the county seat of St. Johns County.
Beaches Close to Downtown St. Augustine
High Quality beaches near to the city include:
St. Augustine Beach
North (Usina) Beach
South Ponte Vedra Beach
5. The narrowest street in the United States is in St Augustine. It is called Treasury Street and it is just 7 feet wide. The street connects the Royal Spanish Treasury to the area where the ships dock on the bay and it was deliberately made to be narrow, so that thieves would find it difficult to remove and escape with chests of gold from the treasury.
6. The city’s modern renaissance began in the 1880’s when the railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler built a number of decadent hotels and promoted St Augustine as a winter resort for the northern elite.
7. St Augustine has only suffered one direct hit by a hurricane in modern times, that was by Hurricane Dora in 1964.
Notable Residents of St Augustine
Tom Petty, rock musician.
Frederick Delius, composer.
Ray Charles, pianist and singer.
Richard Boone, actor.
Cris Carpenter, major league baseball player.
Sinclair Lewis, novelist.
William W. Loring, Confederate general.
Louise Homer, opera singer.
Brandon James, professional football player.
Johnny Mize, Hall of Fame baseball player.
8. The city is home to the world’s oldest Ripley's Believe It or Not! which can be found in the Castle Warden. The city’s odditorium opened in 1950, the year after Robert Ripley’s death.
9. St. Augustine is home to the Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest masonry fort in North America. The fort is also the only one from the 17th century in the continental US that is still standing. Visiting the fort is one of the most interesting things to do in St Augustine, Florida, if you ever visit the city.
10. The city’s fort was originally named the Castillo de San Marcos, by the Spanish who built it. It was then renamed Fort St. Mark, by the British when they took over. In 1821, when Florida became a U.S. territory, the fort was renamed again, this time being called Fort Marion. The fort’s original name was restored by Congress in 1942.
11. Despite being attacked many times, the Castillo de San Marcos fort has never been taken by force.
12. St Augustine is home to the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, which is claimed to be the oldest wooden school building in the USA. It is not known exactly when it was built, but the building appears on tax records in 1716.
13. The St Augustine Light tower was built in 1874, after the previous lighthouse became threatened by beach erosion. The lighthouse now houses a not-for-profit maritime museum. According to legend, the location is haunted and there are numerous ghost stories connected with the lighthouse.
14. St Augustine has been nicknamed: ‘Ancient City’ and ‘Old City’.
15. Potter's Wax Museum in is the oldest wax museum in the USA and houses more than 160 wax sculptures of famous politicians and people from history, as well as modern movie stars, entertainers and other celebrities.
16. The Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine was constructed over a 5 year period between 1793 and 1797. The cathedral was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1970.
Father Camps and the Minorcans
Father Camps was a Roman Catholic priest originally from Minorca. He reestablished the Church of San Pedro on St. George Street in the late 18th Century. Father Camps died in 1790 and is buried inside the Cathedral.
The statue is constructed from bronze and weighs a ton. It was commissioned in 1973 and created by Spanish sculptor, Joseph Viladomat of Barcelona. It was placed in the Cathedral courtyard in 1974.
17. The historic Old Jail was built by Henry Flagler in 1891 and served as the St. John’s County Jail until 1953.
18. The St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park opened in 1893 and is one of Florida’s oldest tourist attractions. As well as housing every species of alligator, crocodile, caiman, and gharial, the zoo also has exotic birds and monkeys.
19. The city is served by the Northeast Florida Regional Airport, which began life in 1933 and was known as St Augustine Airport until 2010.
20. The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a popular tourist destination. It has been claimed that the site occupies the vicinity where Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, first arrived in Florida in 1513, although most modern historians now believe that he probably landed in the Cape Canaveral area.
© 2012 Paul Goodman