St. Augustine, Florida

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St. Augustine
San Agustín (Spanish)
City of Saint Augustine
Coat of arms of Saint Augustine, Florida.svg
Ancient City, Old City
St. Johns County Florida Incorporated and Unincorporated areas St. Augustine Highlighted.svg
Location in St. Johns County and the U.S. state of Florida
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
St. Augustine
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 29°53′41″N81°18′52″W / 29.89472°N 81.31444°W / 29.89472; -81.31444 Coordinates: 29°53′41″N81°18′52″W / 29.89472°N 81.31444°W / 29.89472; -81.31444 [1]
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
State Flag of Florida.svg  Florida
County Flag of St. Johns County, Florida.png St. Johns
EstablishedSeptember 8, 1565;457 years ago (1565-09-08)
Founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Named for Saint Augustine of Hippo
  Type City commission government
   Mayor Tracy Upchurch (R)
   City 12.85 sq mi (33.29 km2)
  Land9.52 sq mi (24.66 km2)
  Water3.33 sq mi (8.63 km2)
0 ft (0 m)
   City 14,329
  Density1,504.99/sq mi (581.05/km2)
69,173 (US: 399th)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
32080, 32084, 32085, 32086, 32095, 32082, 32092
Area code 904
FIPS code 12-62500 [4]
GNIS feature ID0308101 [3]
Website City of St. Augustine

St. Augustine ( /ˈɔːɡəstn/ AW-gə-steen; Spanish : San Agustín [san aɣusˈtin] ) is a city in the Southeastern United States and the county seat of St. Johns County on the Atlantic coast of northeastern Florida. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in what is now the contiguous United States.


St. Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565, by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida's first governor. He named the settlement "San Agustín", as his ships bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain had first sighted land in Florida eleven days earlier on August 28, the feast day of St. Augustine. [5] The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years. It was designated as the capital of British East Florida when the colony was established in 1763; Great Britain returned Florida to Spain in 1783.

Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, and St. Augustine was designated the capital of the Florida Territory upon ratification of the Adams–Onís Treaty in 1821. The Florida National Guard made the city its headquarters that same year. The territorial government moved and made Tallahassee the capital of Florida in 1824.

St. Augustine is part of Florida's First Coast region and the Jacksonville metropolitan area. Since the late 19th century, St. Augustine's distinctive historical character has made the city a tourist attraction.


Historical Affiliations

Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Kingdom of Spain 1565–1763
Flag of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg British Empire 1763–1784
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Kingdom of Spain 1784–1821
Confederate States of America 1861-1862 Flag of the United States (1848-1851).svg  United States 1821–present

St. Augustine in 1891 from the former San Marco Hotel, Spanish St. on left, Huguenot Cemetery lower left corner, Cordova St. on right San Marco Hotel.jpg
St. Augustine in 1891 from the former San Marco Hotel, Spanish St. on left, Huguenot Cemetery lower left corner, Cordova St. on right
Replicas of the Medici lions of Florence, Italy at the approach to the Bridge of Lions donated by Andrew Anderson Bridge of Lions.JPG
Replicas of the Medici lions of Florence, Italy at the approach to the Bridge of Lions donated by Andrew Anderson

Founding by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Founded in 1565 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the contiguous United States. [6] [7] It is the second-oldest continuously inhabited city of European origin in United States territory after San Juan, Puerto Rico (founded in 1521). [8] In 1560, King Philip II of Spain appointed Menéndez as Captain General, and his brother Bartolomé Menéndez as Admiral, of the Fleet of the Indies. [9] Thus Pedro Menéndez commanded the galleons of the great Armada de la Carrera, or Spanish Treasure Fleet, on their voyage from the Caribbean and Mexico to Spain, and determined the routes they followed.

In early 1564 he asked permission to go to Florida to search for La Concepcion, the galeon Capitana, or flagship, of the New Spain fleet commanded by his son, Admiral Juan Menéndez. The ship had been lost in September 1563 when a hurricane scattered the fleet as it was returning to Spain, at the latitude of Bermuda off the coast of South Carolina. [10] The crown repeatedly refused his request.

In 1565, however, the Spanish decided to destroy the French outpost of Fort Caroline, located in what is now Jacksonville. The crown approached Menéndez to fit out an expedition to Florida [11] on the condition that he explore and settle the region as King Philip's adelantado , and eliminate the Huguenot French, [12] whom the Catholic Spanish considered to be dangerous heretics. [13]

Menéndez was in a race to reach Florida before the French captain Jean Ribault, [14] who was on a mission to secure Fort Caroline. On August 28, 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo, Menéndez's crew finally sighted land; the Spaniards continued sailing northward along the coast from their landfall, investigating every inlet and plume of smoke along the shore. On September 4, they encountered four French vessels anchored at the mouth of a large river (the St. Johns), including Ribault's flagship, La Trinité. The two fleets met in a brief skirmish, but it was not decisive. Menéndez sailed southward and landed again on September 8, formally declared possession of the land in the name of Philip II, and officially founded the settlement he named San Agustín (Saint Augustine). [15] [16] At the landing spot, Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales celebrated the first Catholic mass offered in the colony. [17] [18] [19] The settlement was built in the former Timucua village of Seloy; this site was chosen for its strategic location facing the waterways of St. Augustine bay with their abundant resources, an eminently suitable site for water communications and defense. [20]

A French attack on St. Augustine was thwarted by a violent squall that ravaged the French naval forces. Taking advantage of this, Menéndez marched his troops overland to Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River, about 30 miles (50 km) north. The Spanish easily overwhelmed the lightly defended French garrison, which had been left with only a skeleton crew of 20 soldiers and about 100 others, killing most of the men and sparing about 60 women and children. The bodies of the victims were hung in trees with the inscription: "Hanged, not as Frenchmen, but as "Lutherans" (heretics)." [21] [22] Menéndez renamed the fort San Mateo and marched back to St. Augustine, where he discovered that the shipwrecked survivors from the French ships had come ashore to the south of the settlement. A Spanish patrol encountered the remnants of the French force, and took them prisoner. Menéndez accepted their surrender, but then executed all of them except a few professing Catholics and some Protestant workers with useful skills, at what is now known as Matanzas Inlet (Matanzas is Spanish for "slaughters"). [23] The site is very near the national monument Fort Matanzas, built in 1740–1742 by the Spanish.

Invasions by pirates and enemies of Spain

Succeeding governors of the province maintained a peaceful coexistence with the local Native Americans, allowing the isolated outpost of St. Augustine some stability for a few years. On May 28 and 29, 1586, soon after the Anglo-Spanish War began between England and Spain, the English privateer Sir Francis Drake sacked and burned St. Augustine. [24] The approach of his large fleet obliged Governor Pedro Menéndez Márquez and the townspeople to evacuate the settlement. When the English got ashore, they seized some artillery pieces and a royal strongbox containing gold ducats (which was the garrison payroll). [25] The killing of their sergeant major by the Spanish rearguard caused Drake to order the town razed to the ground. [26] [27]

In 1609 and 1611, expeditions were sent out from St. Augustine against the English colony at Jamestown. [28] In the second half of the 17th century, groups of Indians from the colony of Carolina conducted raids into Florida and killed the Franciscan priests who served at the Catholic missions. Requests by successive governors of the province to strengthen the presidio’s garrison and fortifications were ignored by the Spanish Crown which had other priorities in its vast empire. The charter of 1663 for the new Province of Carolina, issued by King Charles II of England, was revised in 1665, claiming lands as far southward as 29 degrees north latitude, about 65 miles south of the existing settlement at St. Augustine. [29] [30]

The English buccaneer Robert Searle sacked St. Augustine in 1668, after capturing some Spanish supply vessels bound for the settlement and holding their crews at gun point while his men hid below decks. Searle was retaliating for the Spanish destruction of the settlement of New Providence in the Bahamas. Searle and his men killed sixty people and pillaged public storehouses, churches and houses. [31] This raid and the establishment of the English settlement at Charles Town spurred the Spanish Crown to finally acknowledge the vulnerability of St. Augustine to foreign incursions and strengthen the city's defenses. In 1669, Queen Regent Mariana ordered the Viceroy of New Spain to disburse funds for the construction of a permanent masonry fortress, which began in 1672. [32] Before the fortress was completed, French buccaneers Michel de Grammont and Nicolas Brigaut planned an ill-fated attack in 1686 which was foiled: their ships were run aground, Grammont and his crew were lost at sea, and Brigaut was captured ashore by Spanish soldiers. [33] The Castillo de San Marcos was completed in 1695, not long before an attack by James Moore's forces from Carolina in November, 1702. Failing to capture the fort after a siege of 58 days, the British set St. Augustine ablaze as they retreated. [34]

In 1738, the governor of Spanish Florida, Manuel de Montiano, ordered a settlement be constructed two miles north of St. Augustine for the growing Free Black community established by fugitive slaves who had escaped into Florida from the Thirteen Colonies. This new community, Fort Mose, would serve as a military outpost and buffer for St. Augustine, as the men accepted into Fort Mose had enlisted in the colonial militia and converted to Catholicism in exchange for their freedom. [35] [36]

In 1740, however, St. Augustine was again besieged, this time by the governor of the British colony of Georgia, General James Oglethorpe, who was also unable to take the fort. [37]

Loyalist haven under British rule

The 1763 Treaty of Paris, signed after Great Britain's victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years' War, ceded Florida to Great Britain in exchange for the return of Havana and Manila. The vast majority of Spanish colonists in the region left Florida for Cuba, Florida became Great Britain's fourteenth and fifteenth North American colonies, and because of the political sympathies of its British inhabitants, St. Augustine became a Loyalist haven during the American Revolutionary War. [38]

After the mass exodus of St. Augustinians, Great Britain sought to repopulate its new colony. The London Board of Trade advertised 20,000-acre lots to any group that would settle in Florida within ten years, with one resident per 100 acres. Pioneers who were "energetic and of good character" were given 100 acres of land and 50 additional acres for each family member they brought. Under Governor James Grant, almost three million acres of land were granted in East Florida alone. Second stories were added to existing Spanish homes and new houses were built. Cattle ranching and plantation agriculture began to thrive. [39]

During the twenty-year period of British rule, Britain took command of both the Castillo de San Marcos (renamed Fort St. Mark) and of Fort Matanzas. They permanently stationed a small group of men at Fort Matanzas. Once war broke out, loyalist St. Augustine residents burned effigies of Patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock in the plaza. Fort St. Mark became a training and supply base, as well a prisoner-of-war camp where three signers of the Declaration of Independence and South Carolina's lieutenant governor Christopher Gadsden were held. Local militia composed of Florida, Georgia, and Carolina inhabitants formed the East Florida Rangers in 1776 and were reorganized to form the King's Rangers in 1779. [39] Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez, harassed the British in West Florida and captured Pensacola. Fears that the Spanish would then move to capture St. Augustine, however, proved unfounded. [40]

The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which recognized the independence of the Thirteen Colonies as the United States, ceded Florida back to Spain and returned the Bahamas to Britain. As a result, some of the town's Spanish residents returned to St Augustine. Refugees from Dr. Andrew Turnbull's troubled colony in New Smyrna had fled to St. Augustine in 1777, made up the majority of the city's population during the period of British rule, and remained when the Spanish Crown took control again. This group was, and still is, referred to locally as "Menorcans", even though it also included settlers from Italy, Corsica and the Greek islands. [41] [42]

Second Spanish period

During the Second Spanish period (1784–1821) of Florida, Spain was dealing with invasions of the Iberian peninsula by Napoleon's armies in the Peninsular War, and struggled to maintain a tenuous hold on its territories in the western hemisphere as revolution swept South America. The royal administration of Florida was neglected, as the province had long been regarded as an unprofitable backwater by the Crown. The United States, however, considered Florida vital to its political and military interests as it expanded its territory in North America, and maneuvered by sometimes clandestine means to acquire it. [43] On October 5, 1811, a hurricane hit St. Augustine that caused extensive damage to the city. The damage was further exacerbated by the economic situation of Spanish Florida. [44] The Adams–Onís Treaty, negotiated in 1819 and ratified in 1821, ceded Florida and St. Augustine, still its capital at the time, to the United States. [45]

Territory of Florida

According to the Adams–Onís Treaty, the United States acquired East Florida and absolved Spain of $5 million of debt. Spain renounced all claims to West Florida and the Oregon Country. Andrew Jackson returned to Florida in 1821, upon ratification of the treaty, and established a new territorial government. Americans from older plantation societies of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas began to move to the area. West Florida was quickly consolidated with East and the new capital of Florida became Tallahassee, halfway between the old capitals of St. Augustine and Pensacola, in 1824. [46]

Once many Americans had begun to immigrate to the new territory, it became apparent that there would be continued skirmishes with local Creek and Miccosukee peoples and white settlers encroaching on their land. The United States government favored removal policies, but local indigenous groups in Florida refused to leave without fighting. The nineteenth century saw three Seminole Wars. In 1823, territorial governor William Duval and James Gadsden signed the Treaty of Moultrie Creek, forcing Seminoles onto a four million acre reservation in central Florida. The Second Seminole War (1835–1842) was the longest war of Indian removal and resulted when the United States government attempted to move the Seminole people from Central Florida to a Creek reservation west of the Mississippi River. As a result of the Seminole War, Seminole prisoners, including the prominent leader Osceola, were held captive in the Castillo de San Marcos, renamed Fort Marion after General Francis Marion, who fought in the American Revolution, in the 1830s. [46] [47] [48]

By 1840, the territory's population had reached 54,477 people. Half the population were enslaved Africans. Steamboats were popular on the Apalachicola and St. Johns River and there were several plans for railroad construction. The territory south of present-day Gainesville was sparsely populated by whites. [46]

In 1845 the Florida Territory was admitted into the Union as the State of Florida. [49]

Civil War

Slave Market, St. Augustine, Florida in 1886 The Old Slave Market, St. Augustine, Florida- (6892781474) (cropped).jpg
Slave Market, St. Augustine, Florida in 1886

On January 7, 1861, only three days before Florida would secede and join the Confederacy, a group of 125 Florida militia marched on Fort Marion. The fort was guarded by a single sergeant, who surrendered the fort after being provided with a receipt. Gen. Robert E. Lee, who was commander of coastal defenses at the time, ordered that the fort's cannons be removed and sent to more strategic locations, such as Fernandina and the mouth of the St. Johns River. [50]

The town raised a militia unit, known as the Florida Independent Blues or the Saint Augustine Blues. [51] They were soon joined by the Milton Guard, another militia unit. [52]

In an effort to help blockade runners avoid capture, the Confederate government ordered all lighthouses to be extinguished. In St. Augustine, the customhouse officer, Paul Arnau, organized the "Coastal Guard," a group who worked to disable the lighthouses along Florida's east coast. They started by removing and hiding the lenses from the St. Augustine Light before moving south. After successfully dismantling the lighthouses at Cape Canaveral, Jupiter Inlet, and Key Biscayne, Arnau returned to St. Augustine. He would then serve as mayor from 1861 until early 1862, just before the Federals took over the city. [53]

The Confederate authorities remained in control of St. Augustine for fourteen months, although it was barely defended. The Union conducted a blockade of shipping. In 1862 Union troops gained control of St. Augustine and controlled it through the rest of the war. With the economy already suffering, many residents fled. [54] [55]

Henry Flagler and the railroad

Henry Flagler, a co-founder with John D. Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Company, spent the winter of 1883 in St. Augustine and found the city charming, but considered its hotels and transportation systems inadequate. [56] He had the idea to make St. Augustine a winter resort for wealthy Americans from the north, and to bring them south he bought several short line railroads and combined these in 1885 to form the Florida East Coast Railway. He built a railroad bridge over the St. Johns River in 1888, opening up the Atlantic coast of Florida to development. [57] [58]

Flagler finished construction in 1887 on two large ornate hotels in the city, the 450-room Hotel Ponce de Leon and the 250-room Hotel Alcazar. The next year, he purchased the Casa Monica Hotel (renaming it the Cordova Hotel) across the street from both the Alcazar and the Ponce de Leon. His chosen architectural firm, Carrère and Hastings, radically altered the appearance of St. Augustine with these hotels, giving it a skyline and beginning an architectural trend in the state characterized by the use of the Spanish Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles. With the opening of the Ponce de Leon in 1888, St. Augustine became the winter resort of American high society for a few years. [59]

When Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad was extended southward to Palm Beach and then Miami in the early 20th century, the wealthy stopped in St. Augustine en route to the southern resorts. Wealthy vacationers began to customarily spend their winters in South Florida, where the climate was warmer and freezes were rare. St. Augustine nevertheless still attracted tourists, and eventually became a destination for families traveling in automobiles as new highways were built and Americans took to the road for annual summer vacations. The tourist industry soon became the dominant sector of the local economy. [60]

Civil Rights Movement

In late 1963, nearly a decade after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation of schools was unconstitutional, African Americans were still trying to get St. Augustine to integrate the public schools in the city. They were also trying to integrate public accommodations, such as lunch counters, [61] and were met with arrests [62] and Ku Klux Klan violence. [63] [64] Local college students held non-violent protests throughout the city, including sit-ins at the local Woolworth's, picket lines, and marches through the downtown. These protests were often met with police violence. Homes of African Americans were firebombed, [65] black leaders were assaulted and threatened with death, and others were fired from their jobs.

In the spring of 1964, St. Augustine civil rights leader Robert Hayling [66] asked the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and its leader Martin Luther King Jr. for assistance. [67] From May until July 1964, King and Hayling, along with Andrew Young, organized marches, sit-ins, and other forms of peaceful protest in St. Augustine. Hundreds of black and white civil rights supporters were arrested, [68] and the jails were filled to capacity. [69] At the request of Hayling and King, white civil rights supporters from the North, including students, clergy, and well-known public figures, came to St. Augustine and were arrested together with Southern activists. [70] [71] [72]

St. Augustine was the only place in Florida where King was arrested; his arrest there occurred on June 11, 1964, on the steps of the Monson Motor Lodge's restaurant. The demonstrations came to a climax when a group of black and white protesters jumped into the hotel's segregated swimming pool. In response to the protest, James Brock, the manager of the hotel and the president of the Florida Hotel & Motel Association, poured what he claimed to be muriatic acid into the pool to burn the protesters. Photographs of this, and of a policeman jumping into the pool to arrest the protesters, were broadcast around the world.

The Ku Klux Klan responded to these protests with violent attacks that were widely reported in national and international media. [73] Popular revulsion against the Klan and police violence in St. Augustine generated national sympathy for the black protesters and became a key factor in Congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, [74] leading eventually to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, [75] both of which provided federal enforcement of constitutional rights.

Modern St. Augustine

In 1965, St. Augustine celebrated the 400th anniversary of its founding, [76] and jointly with the State of Florida, inaugurated a program to restore part of the colonial city. The Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board was formed to reconstruct more than thirty-six buildings to their historical appearance, which was completed within a few years. When the State of Florida abolished the Board in 1997, the City of St. Augustine assumed control of the reconstructed buildings, as well as other historic properties including the Government House. In 2010, the city transferred control of the historic buildings to UF Historic St. Augustine, Inc., a direct support organization of the University of Florida.

In 2015, St. Augustine celebrated the 450th anniversary of its founding with a four-day long festival and a visit from Felipe VI of Spain and Queen Letizia of Spain. [77]

On October 7, 2016 Hurricane Matthew caused widespread flooding in downtown St. Augustine. [78]

Geography and climate

View of St. Augustine from the top of the lighthouse on Anastasia Island St. Augustine Anastasia Island north pano01.jpg
View of St. Augustine from the top of the lighthouse on Anastasia Island

St. Augustine is located at 29°53′41″N81°18′52″W / 29.89472°N 81.31444°W / 29.89472; -81.31444 (29.8946910, −81.3145170). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.7 square miles (27.8 km2), 8.4 square miles (21.7 km2) of which is land and 2.4 square miles (6.1 km2) (21.99%) is water. Access to the Atlantic Ocean is via the St. Augustine Inlet of the Matanzas River.

St. Augustine has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) typical of the Gulf and South Atlantic states. The low latitude and coastal location give the city a mostly warm and sunny climate. Unlike much of the contiguous United States, St. Augustine's driest time of year is winter. The hot and wet season extends from May through October, while the cool and dry season extends November through April.

In summer, highs are in the 80s to 90s and lows are in the 70s. The Bermuda High pumps in hot and unstable tropical air from the Bahamas and Gulf of Mexico, which help create the daily thundershowers that are typical in summer months. Intense but very brief downpours are common in summer in the city. Fall and spring are warm and sunny with highs from 74 °F to 87 °F and lows in the 50s to 70s.

In winter, St. Augustine has generally mild and sunny weather typical of the Florida peninsula. The coolest months are from December through February, with highs from 67 °F to 70 °F and lows from 47 °F to 51 °F. From November through April, St. Augustine often has long periods of rainless weather. April can see near drought conditions with brush fires and water restrictions in place. St. Augustine averages 4.6 frosts per year. The record low of 10 °F (−12 °C) happened on January 21, 1985. Hurricanes occasionally impact the region; however, like most areas prone to such storms, St. Augustine rarely suffers a direct hit by a major hurricane. The last direct hit by a major hurricane to the city was Hurricane Dora in 1964. Extensive flooding occurred in the downtown area of St. Augustine when Hurricane Matthew passed east of the city in October 2016. [79]

Climate data for St. Augustine, Florida (St. Augustine Light), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1973–2016
Record high °F (°C)86
Average high °F (°C)67.5
Daily mean °F (°C)57.6
Average low °F (°C)47.8
Record low °F (°C)10
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.74
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)
Source: NOAA [80] [81]


Historical population
1830 1,708
1840 2,45043.4%
1850 1,934−21.1%
1860 1,914−1.0%
1870 1,717−10.3%
1880 2,29333.5%
1890 4,742106.8%
1900 4,272−9.9%
1910 5,49428.6%
1920 6,19212.7%
1930 12,11195.6%
1940 12,090−0.2%
1950 13,55512.1%
1960 14,7348.7%
1970 12,352−16.2%
1980 11,985−3.0%
1990 11,692−2.4%
2000 11,592−0.9%
2010 12,97511.9%
2020 14,32910.4%
U.S. Decennial Census [82]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 12,975 people, 5,743 households, and 2,679 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,376.2 people per square mile (531/km2). There were 6,978 housing units at an average density of 549.4 per square mile (211.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 84.2% white, 11.6% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.1% of the population.

There were 5,743 households, out of which 14.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.7% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.4% were non-families. 37.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 and the average family size was 2.67.

In the city, 13.1% of the population was under the age of 18, 15.3% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 19% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,424, and the median income for a family was $56,055. Males had a median income of $32,409 versus $30,188 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,485. About 7.6% of families and 21.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 24.4% of those age 65 or over.

The United States Census Bureau's 2013 estimate of the city's population was 13,679, while the urban area had a population of 71,379 in 2012. [83]

Government and politics

St. Augustine is the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida. [84] [85]

The city of St. Augustine operates under a city commission government form with an elected mayor, vice mayor, and city commission. Additionally, the government includes a city manager, city attorney, city clerk, and various city boards. [86]



Major roadways, St. Augustine and vicinity St. Augustine Major Roadways.jpg
Major roadways, St. Augustine and vicinity


Bus service is operated by the Sunshine Bus Company, based in St. Augustine Beach. [87] Buses operate mainly between shopping centers across town, but a few go to Hastings and Jacksonville, where one can connect to JTA for additional service across Jacksonville.


St. Augustine has one public airport 4 miles (6.4 km) north of the downtown. It has three runways and two seaplane lanes. [88] There is currently no scheduled service to the Airport following ViaAir's suspension of service to Charlotte in 2018. Various private jets and tour helicopters also operate from the airport. Northrop Grumman runs a large manufacturing plant on the grounds, where the E-2 Hawkeye is produced. Jacksonville International Airport is 40 miles to the north along I-95.

Points of interest

First and second Spanish eras

British era

Pre-Flagler era

Flagler era

Historic churches

Lincolnville National Historic District – Civil Rights era

Other points of interest


Ray Charles Center and the Theodore Johnson Center, at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind St Aug Fla School Deaf Blind pano01.jpg
Ray Charles Center and the Theodore Johnson Center, at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind

Primary and secondary education in St. Augustine is overseen by the St. Johns County School District.

There are four zoned elementary schools with sections of the city limits in their attendance boundaries: John A. Crookshank (outside the city limits), [89] R. B. Hunt, [90] Ketterlinus, [91] and Osceola (outside the city limits). [92] There are two zoned middle schools (both outside the city limits): R. J. Murray Middle School, [93] and Sebastian Middle School. [94] There are no county high schools located within St. Augustine's current city limits, but St. Augustine High School is the designated senior high school for residentially-zoned land in St. Augustine. [95] Additionally Pedro Menendez High School, and St. Johns Technical High School are located in the vicinity.

The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, a state-operated boarding school for deaf and blind students, was founded in the city in 1885. [96] The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine operates the St. Joseph Academy, Florida's oldest Catholic high school, to the west of the city. [97]

There are several institutions of higher education in and around St. Augustine. Flagler College is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1968. It is located in the former Ponce de Leon Hotel in downtown St. Augustine. [98] St. Johns River State College, a state college in the Florida College System, has its St. Augustine campus just west of the city. Also in the area are the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, and Florida State College at Jacksonville in Jacksonville. [99]

The institution now known as Florida Memorial University was located in St. Augustine from 1918 to 1968, when it relocated to its present campus in Miami. Originally known as Florida Baptist Academy, then Florida Normal, and then Florida Memorial College, it was a historically black institution and had a wide impact on St. Augustine while it was located there. During World War II it was chosen as the site for training the first blacks in the U. S. Signal Corps. Among its faculty members was Zora Neale Hurston; a historic marker is placed at the house where she lived while teaching at Florida Memorial [100] (and where she wrote her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road .) [101] [102]

Notable people

United States Senator David Levy Yulee David Levy Yulee - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator David Levy Yulee
Author Zora Neale Hurston Hurston-Zora-Neale-LOC.jpg
Author Zora Neale Hurston

Sister cities

St. Augustine's sister cities are: [103]

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacksonville, Florida</span> Largest city in Florida, United States, located in Duval County

Jacksonville is a city located on the Atlantic coast of Florida, the most populous city in the state and is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States as of 2020. It is the seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968. Consolidation gave Jacksonville its great size and placed most of its metropolitan population within the city limits. As of 2020, Jacksonville's population is 949,611, making it the 12th most populous city in the U.S., the most populous city in the Southeast, and the most populous city in the South outside of the state of Texas. With a population of 1,733,937, the Jacksonville metropolitan area ranks as Florida's fourth-largest metropolitan region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean Ribault</span> French navigator and colonizer

Jean Ribault was a French naval officer, navigator, and a colonizer of what would become the southeastern United States. He was a major figure in the French attempts to colonize Florida. A Huguenot and officer under Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, Ribault led an expedition to the New World in 1562 that founded the outpost of Charlesfort on Parris Island in present-day South Carolina. Two years later, he took over command of the French colony of Fort Caroline in what is now Jacksonville, Florida. He and many of his followers were massacred by Spanish soldiers near St. Augustine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pedro Menéndez de Avilés</span> Spanish explorer and governor

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was a Spanish admiral, explorer and conquistador from Avilés, in Asturias, Spain. He is notable for planning the first regular trans-oceanic convoys, which became known as the Spanish treasure fleet, and for founding St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. This was the first successful European settlement in La Florida and the most significant city in the region for nearly three centuries. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited, European-established settlement in the continental United States. Menéndez de Avilés was the first governor of La Florida (1565–74). By his contract, or asiento, with Philip II, Menéndez was appointed adelantado and was responsible for implementing royal policies to build fortifications for the defense of conquered territories in La Florida and to establish Castilian governmental institutions in desirable areas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fort Caroline</span> 139 acres in Florida (US) managed by the National Park Service

Fort Caroline was an attempted French colonial settlement in Florida, located on the banks of the St. Johns River in present-day Duval County. It was established under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière on 22 June, 1564, following King Charles IX's enlisting of Jean Ribault and his Huguenot settlers to stake a claim in French Florida ahead of Spain. The French colony came into conflict with the Spanish, who established St. Augustine in September 1565, and Fort Caroline was sacked by Spanish troops under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés on 20 September. The Spanish continued to occupy the site as San Mateo until 1569.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Castillo de San Marcos</span> United States historic place

The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States; it is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of St. Augustine, Florida.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spanish Florida</span> Former Spanish possession in North America (1513–1763; 1783–1821)

Spanish Florida was the first major European land claim and attempted settlement in North America during the European Age of Discovery. La Florida formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire during Spanish colonization of the Americas. While its boundaries were never clearly or formally defined, the territory was initially much larger than the present-day state of Florida, extending over much of what is now the southeastern United States, including all of present-day Florida plus portions of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana. Spain's claim to this vast area was based on several wide-ranging expeditions mounted during the 16th century. A number of missions, settlements, and small forts existed in the 16th and to a lesser extent in the 17th century; they were eventually abandoned due to pressure from the expanding English and French colonial settlements, the collapse of the native populations, and the general difficulty in becoming agriculturally or economically self-sufficient. By the 18th century, Spain's control over La Florida did not extend much beyond a handful of forts near St. Augustine, St. Marks, and Pensacola, all within the boundaries of present-day Florida.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Jacksonville, Florida</span>

The city of Jacksonville, Florida began to grow in the late 18th century as Cow Ford, settled by British colonists. Its major development occurred in the late nineteenth century, when it became a winter vacation destination for tourists from the North and Midwest. Its development was halted or slowed by the Great Fire of 1901, the Florida Land Bust of the 1920s, and the economic woes of the 1960s and 70s. Since the late 20th century, the city has experienced steady growth, with a new federal building constructed in downtown in 2003.

Anastasia Island is a barrier island located off the northeast Atlantic coast of Florida in the United States. It sits east of St. Augustine, running north–south in a slightly southeastern direction to Matanzas Inlet. The island is about 14 miles (23 km) long and an average of 1 mile in width. It is separated from the mainland by the Matanzas River, part of the Intracoastal waterway. Matanzas Bay, the body of water between the island and downtown St. Augustine, opens into St. Augustine Inlet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matanzas Inlet</span> Ocean inlet in Florida, US

Matanzas Inlet is a channel in Florida between two barrier islands and the mainland, connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the south end of the Matanzas River. It is 14 miles (23 km) south of St. Augustine, in the southern part of St. Johns County. The inlet is not stabilized by jetties, and thus is subject to shifting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fort Mose Historic State Park</span> United States historic place

Fort Mose Historic State Park is a former Spanish fort in St. Augustine, Florida. In 1738, the governor of Spanish Florida, Manuel de Montiano, had the fort established as a free black settlement, the first to be legally sanctioned in what would become the territory of the United States. It was designated a US National Historic Landmark on October 12, 1994.

Santa Elena, a Spanish settlement on what is now Parris Island, South Carolina, was the capital of Spanish Florida from 1566 to 1587. It was established under Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the first governor of Spanish Florida. There had been a number of earlier attempts to establish colonies in the area by both the Spanish and the French, who had been inspired by the earlier accounts by Chicora and Hernando de Soto of rich territories in the interior. Menéndez's Santa Elena settlement was intended as the new capital of the Spanish colony of La Florida, shifting the focus of Spanish colonial efforts north from St. Augustine, which had been established in 1565 to oust the French from their colony of Fort Caroline. Santa Elena was ultimately built at the site of the abandoned French outpost of Charlesfort, founded in 1562 by Jean Ribault.

Francisco Menéndez was a notable free Black militiaman who served the Spanish Empire in Florida during the 18th-century. He was the leader of Fort Mose, arguably the first free Black settlement in North America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siege of Fort Mose</span> 26 June 1740 action of the War of Jenkins Ear

The Battle of Fort Mose was a significant action of the War of Jenkins' Ear that took place on June 14, 1740 in Spanish Florida. Captain Antonio Salgado commanded a Spanish column of 300 regular troops, backed by the free black militia under Francisco Menéndez and allied Seminole warriors consisting of Indian auxiliaries. They stormed Fort Mose, a strategically crucial position newly held by 170 British soldiers under Colonel John Palmer. Palmer and his garrison had taken the fort from the Spanish as part of James Oglethorpe's offensive to capture St. Augustine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saturiwa</span> Timucua chiefdom in Spanish Florida

The Saturiwa were a Timucua chiefdom centered on the mouth of the St. Johns River in what is now Jacksonville, Florida. They were the largest and best attested chiefdom of the Timucua subgroup known as the Mocama, who spoke the Mocama dialect of Timucuan and lived in the coastal areas of present-day northern Florida and southeastern Georgia. They were a prominent political force in the early days of European settlement in Florida, forging friendly relations with the French Huguenot settlers at Fort Caroline in 1564 and later becoming heavily involved in the Spanish mission system.

Pedro Menéndez Márquez was a Spanish military officer, conquistador, and governor of Spanish Florida. He was a nephew of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who had been appointed adelantado of La Florida by King Philip II. Márquez was also related to Diego de Velasco, Hernando de Miranda, Gutierre de Miranda, Juan Menéndez Márquez, and Francisco Menéndez Márquez, all of whom served as governors of La Florida.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Timeline of Florida history</span>

This is a timeline of the U.S. state of Florida.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spanish assault on French Florida</span>

The Spanish assault on French Florida began as part of imperial Spain's geopolitical strategy of developing colonies in the New World to protect its claimed territories against incursions by other European powers. From the early 16th century, the French had historic claims to some of the lands in the New World that the Spanish called La Florida. The French crown and the Huguenots led by Admiral Gaspard de Coligny believed that planting French settlers in Florida would help defuse religious conflicts in France and strengthen its own claim to a part of North America. The Crown wanted to discover and exploit valuable commodities, especially silver and gold, as the Spanish had done with the mines of Mexico and Central and South America. The political and religious enmities that existed between the Catholics and Huguenots of France resulted in the attempt by Jean Ribault in February 1562 to settle a colony at Charlesfort on Port Royal Sound, and the subsequent arrival of René Goulaine de Laudonnière at Fort Caroline, on the St. Johns River in June 1564.

St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the continental United States, was founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. The Spanish Crown issued an asiento to Menéndez, signed by King Philip II on March 20, 1565, granting him various titles, including that of adelantado of Florida, and expansive privileges to exploit the lands in the vast territory of Spanish Florida, called La Florida by the Spaniards. This contract directed Menéndez to explore the region's Atlantic coast and report on its features, with the object of finding a suitable location to establish a permanent colony from which the Spanish treasure fleet could be defended and Spain's claimed territories in North America protected against incursions by other European powers.

Kathleen A. Deagan is an American archaeologist who primarily focuses on excavations in Florida and the Caribbean. Known for her historic archaeology which uncovered the colonial past of La Florida, and work in St. Augustine, she has received multiple awards and honors, including the Award of Merit in 1992 and the J. C. Harrington Award in 2004, both bestowed by the Society for Historical Archaeology.

African Americans have made considerable contributions to the history and development of Jacksonville, Florida. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population make up of African American in Jacksonville Florida is 31%.


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Further reading

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