20 Facts About St Augustine, Florida

Updated on February 25, 2019
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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.

20 St Augustine Facts

  1. The City was Founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565
  2. It's the Oldest Continuously Occupied City and Port Established by Europeans in the Continental United States
  3. The City's Population was 12,975 in 2010
  4. It's the County Seat of St. Johns County
  5. It has the Narrowest Street in the United States
  6. Henry Flagler Made it into a Modern Tourist Destination
  7. It has Only Been Directly hit by a Hurricane Once in Modern Times
  8. It's Home to the World’s Oldest Ripley's Believe It or Not!
  9. The City is Home to the Oldest Masonry Fort in North America
  10. The City’s Fort has had Three Different Names
  11. The Fort has Changed Possession Six Times But Never Been Taken by Force
  12. St Augustine has the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
  13. The St Augustine Light Tower is Rumored to be Haunted
  14. The City has been nicknamed: ‘Ancient City’ and ‘Old City’
  15. It has the Oldest Wax Museum in the USA
  16. The Cathedral Basilica Parish Dates Back to 1565
  17. The City's Historic Old Jail Served as the St. John’s County Jail until 1953
  18. The St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park Houses Every Species of Alligator, Crocodile, Caiman, and Gharial
  19. The Northeast Florida Regional Airport was Known as St Augustine Airport Until 2010
  20. It's Claimed That The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park Occupies the Vicinity Where Juan Ponce de Leon First Landed in Florida in 1513

I will go into detail with each of the twenty facts below.

1. The City was Founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was an explorer and admiral, born in the Asturias region of Spain. He became the first governor of Florida in 1565 and remained in office until his death in 1574 from typhus.

2. It's the Oldest Continuously-Inhabited Settlement Established by Europeans in the Continental United States

The first Spanish settlement successfully established in Florida, it was also the most important city in the region for almost three centuries. The location of the settlement was chosen by the Spanish because it was easy to defend and there was an easily accessible source of fresh water.

3. The City's Population was 12,975 in 2010

The population of St Augustine fell after Hurricane Dora hit in 1964, but has been growing since the start of the 21st century and is estimated to have reached 14,280 in 2016.

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

4. It's the County Seat of St. Johns County

Historically, the city was the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years. It was also the capital of East Florida under the British. When it was eventually ceded to the US, it was briefly the capital of the Florida Territory, before Tallahassee.

5. It has the Narrowest Street in the United States

The street 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. Henry Flagler Made St Augustine into a Modern Tourist Destination

Following a long period of neglect, the historic 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. He also went on to build schools, churches, and a hospital in the city.

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

7. It has Only Been Directly Hit by a Hurricane Once in Modern Times

St Augustine has only suffered one direct hit by a hurricane in modern times, that was when Hurricane Dora struck in 1964. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused widespread flooding in downtown St. Augustine when it passed by.

8. It's Home to the World’s Oldest Ripley's Believe It or Not!

The city’s odditorium opened in 1950, the year after Robert Ripley’s death, and can be found in the Castle Warden. .The building was once a hotel and is rumored to be haunted. It houses numerous strange and interesting artifacts including the death mask of Abraham Lincoln.

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. The City is Home to the Oldest Masonry Fort in North America

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 has had Three Different Names

The fort was originally named the Castillo de San Marcos, by the Spanish who built it. It was renamed Fort St. Mark, by the British when they took over. In 1821, when Florida became a U.S. territory, the fort was renamed once again, this time becoming Fort Marion. The fort’s original name was restored by Congress in 1942.

11. The Fort has Changed Possession Six Times But Never Been Taken by Force

Despite being attacked many times, and besieged twice, the Castillo de San Marcos has never been conquered. Control of the fort has switched peacefully between the Spanish, British, and the US. During the American Civil War, it was controlled by the Confederacy.

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
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

12. St Augustine has the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse

The historic building 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 is Rumored to be Haunted

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. The City has been nicknamed: ‘Ancient City’ and ‘Old City’

The original Spanish settlement was at a Native American village called Seloy. The confederation of tribes who lived in Central Florida and Southwest Georgia at the time are known today as the Timucu.

.

15. It has the Oldest Wax Museum in the USA

Potter's Wax Museum was opened in 1948 by George Potter, who was inspired to create his own wax museum by a trip to London as a child. It houses more than 150 wax sculptures of famous politicians and people from history, as well as modern movie stars, entertainers and other celebrities.

16. The Cathedral Basilica Parish Dates Back to 1565

The Cathedral Basilica Parish of St Augustine was constructed over a 5 year period between 1793 and 1797, but the Cathedral Parish dates back to the founding of the city, when Spanish settlers celebrated a Mass upon coming ashore. The cathedral was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1970.

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

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.

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

17. The City's Historic Old Jail Served as the St. John’s County Jail until 1953

Built by Henry Flagler in 1891, the jail housed prisoners for over sixty years. Nowadays, the historic building can be toured by visitors.

18. The St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park Houses Every Species of Alligator, Crocodile, Caiman, and Gharial

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 Northeast Florida Regional Airport was Known as St Augustine Airport Until 2010

The airport, which began life in 1933 and was known as St Augustine Airport until fairly recently. It is owned by the St. Augustine – St. Johns County Airport Authority.

20. It's Claimed That The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park Occupies the Vicinity Where Juan Ponce de Leon First Landed in Florida in 1513

Unfortunately, there is no solid evidence to back up this claim. However, there is plenty of archaeological evidence that the first Spanish St. Augustine settlement was at the site of the modern-day park.

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

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.

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

© 2012 Paul Goodman

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    • profile image

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      4 days ago

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      anonymous 

      6 weeks ago

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      2 months ago

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      2 months ago

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      3 months ago

      thanks

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      3 months ago

      i needed facts about the oldest house can u please post some

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      4 months ago

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      4 months ago

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      5 months ago

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      5 months ago

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      6 months ago

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      7 months ago

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      7 months ago

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      7 months ago

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      12 months ago

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      12 months ago

      i went there on may 17

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      12 months ago

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      13 months ago

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      dad 

      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      14 months ago

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      random 

      14 months ago

      great for projects

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      Unicorn 

      15 months ago

      St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S

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      coolgamer3.0 

      16 months ago

      cool facts LOVE it

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      Nathaniel 

      16 months ago

      thank you this helped alot

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      17 months ago

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      18 months ago

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      24 months ago

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      2 years ago

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      2 years ago

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      2 years ago

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      2 years ago

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      2 years ago

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      2 years ago

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      2 years ago

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      Francisco 

      2 years ago

      really good beacause i have a project on st.augustine

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      Fabiana 

      2 years ago

      I know I am doing this again but this helped me a LOT you should read this. It gives so much facts and information I am doing a project I love this website thank you so much!

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      Unknown Student 

      3 years ago

      My class already did, and it was a lot of help for my school project about St. Augustine.

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      yumyum 

      3 years ago

      we are going to St.Augustine next week for a school field trip.

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      3 years ago

      this helped alot for my homework

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      Kenna 

      3 years ago

      I love St.Augistine

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      Readmikenow 

      3 years ago

      Your article really provides a lot of good information. I like it.

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      polly 

      4 years ago

      this is interesting but you should put a glossary or a page with words that you can click on and learn about all the words

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      Samuel 

      4 years ago

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      4 years ago

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      4 years ago

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      4 years ago

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      4 years ago

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      4 years ago

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