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20 Facts About St Augustine, FL

Updated on November 22, 2016
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Cannon firing demonstration at the Castillo de San Marcos.  There are regular historical reenactments for the education and entertainment of visitors to the fortress.  The 17th century building was originally built by the Spanish.
Cannon firing demonstration at the Castillo de San Marcos. There are regular historical reenactments for the education and entertainment of visitors to the fortress. The 17th century building was originally built by the Spanish. | Source

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. I hope that you enjoy reading 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.

As well as having some excellent sites to visit, eat, and be entertained in the city, you can also sun yourself and swim on the beach.  There are numerous excellent beaches within easy traveling distance of downtown St. Augustine.
As well as having some excellent sites to visit, eat, and be entertained in the city, you can also sun yourself and swim on the beach. There are numerous excellent beaches within easy traveling distance of downtown St. Augustine. | Source

Beaches Close to Downtown St. Augustine

High Quality beaches near to the city include:

Crescent Beach

St. Augustine Beach

Vilano 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.

Portrait of American industrialist, Henry Flagler.  Flagler developed the Atlantic coast of Florida and was instrumental in the creation of the Florida East Coast Railway.  He was directly involved in many projects in the city and is buried there.
Portrait of American industrialist, Henry Flagler. Flagler developed the Atlantic coast of Florida and was instrumental in the creation of the Florida East Coast Railway. He was directly involved in many projects in the city and is buried there. | Source
Inspired by St. Mark's Basilica in Venice and designed a New York Architects firm, the Memorial Presbyterian Church is an impressive building, both inside and out. It was commissioned by Henry Flagler and his body is interred inside.
Inspired by St. Mark's Basilica in Venice and designed a New York Architects firm, the Memorial Presbyterian Church is an impressive building, both inside and out. It was commissioned by Henry Flagler and his body is interred inside. | Source

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.

The Odditorium in St. Augustine, Florida, the world's oldest Ripley's Believe It or Not.  It opened in 1950 after Robert Ripley died the previous year.
The Odditorium in St. Augustine, Florida, the world's oldest Ripley's Believe It or Not. It opened in 1950 after Robert Ripley died the previous year. | Source

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.

Cannons at the Castillo de San Marcos.  Before coming into the hands of the UnS, the fort was previous owned at various times by the Spanish Empire, the British Kingdom, and the Confederate States of America.
Cannons at the Castillo de San Marcos. Before coming into the hands of the UnS, the fort was previous owned at various times by the Spanish Empire, the British Kingdom, and the Confederate States of America. | Source

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.

An aerial view of the fort.  It is constructed from  a stone called coquina, which is Spanish for "small shells", essentially ancient shells that have come together to form a kind of stone similar to limestone.  The fort took 23 years to build.
An aerial view of the fort. It is constructed from a stone called coquina, which is Spanish for "small shells", essentially ancient shells that have come together to form a kind of stone similar to limestone. The fort took 23 years to build. | Source

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.

The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.  It is claimed to be the first schoolhouse built in the USA. Its official construction date is unknown, but it appears on tax records from 1716.  Inside is a museum showing how schoolchildren used to live.
The Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. It is claimed to be the first schoolhouse built in the USA. Its official construction date is unknown, but it appears on tax records from 1716. Inside is a museum showing how schoolchildren used to live. | Source

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.

Standing at the north end of Anastasia Island, the St. Augustine Light is an active lighthouse built in 1874.  According to legend the location is haunted and there are numerous ghost stories connected with the lighthouse.
Standing at the north end of Anastasia Island, the St. Augustine Light is an active lighthouse built in 1874. According to legend the location is haunted and there are numerous ghost stories connected with the lighthouse. | Source

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.

Located at 31 Orange Street, St Augustine, Potter's wax museum houses over 160 wax sculptures.  The museum was founded in 1948 by George L. Potter and was the first of its kind in the United States of America.
Located at 31 Orange Street, St Augustine, Potter's wax museum houses over 160 wax sculptures. The museum was founded in 1948 by George L. Potter and was the first of its kind in the United States of America. | Source

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.

The Father Pedro Camps Statue, which is situate inside the cathedral courtyard.  Camps was a Roman Catholic priest and missionary from Minorca. He reestablished the Church of San Pedro on St. George Street in the late 18th Century. He die in 1790.
The Father Pedro Camps Statue, which is situate inside the cathedral courtyard. Camps was a Roman Catholic priest and missionary from Minorca. He reestablished the Church of San Pedro on St. George Street in the late 18th Century. He die in 1790. | Source

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.

St Augustine Bay. The Castillo de San Marcos can be seen in the background.  The old fort overlooks the bay and was used to protect the settlement from unwelcome visitors.
St Augustine Bay. The Castillo de San Marcos can be seen in the background. The old fort overlooks the bay and was used to protect the settlement from unwelcome visitors. | Source

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.

Juan Ponce de León led the first European expedition to Florida. He is strongly associated with the Fountain of Youth legend.  He also became the first Governor of Puerto Rico.
Juan Ponce de León led the first European expedition to Florida. He is strongly associated with the Fountain of Youth legend. He also became the first Governor of Puerto Rico. | Source

© 2012 FloridaFacts

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