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Old August 29th, 2010, 05:07 AM   #1
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Not Seen Enough: St. Augustine, FL

Welcome to the photo tour you history buffs and fans of Europe have been waiting for: St. Augustine, FL. Please research St. Augustine on your own terms as there is too much history for me to put down here. First settled in 1565, the Spanish plotted and laid out the city. It was the first American colonial settlement to be laid out in a typical Spanish plan, and the first European settlement period in the United States (yes it technically predates Williamsburg, and there are plenty of structures still around in St. A that are every bit as old and even older than the colonial buildings in Williamsburg).

The closest thing that I can think of that St. A reminds me of is actually the French Quarter of New Orleans (I guess the Spanish and the French were more similar than the Spanish and the British). St. A has had three major periods of development, but has been ruled by more than 3 countries and has changed rule something like 8 times.

The first period was from 1565 to about 1748 when the Spanish laid out the city and began building it. The second period of development followed Spanish architecture, but happened under British rule until the early 1800s. The final icing on the cake period of development happened when Henry Flagler (Rockefeller’s partner in Standard Oil) extended his FEC railway from Jacksonville (then known as America’s winter resort) down to St. Augustine and built 3 opulent resorts in the 1880s. Today Henry Flagler is buried in a church photographed in the tour here in St. Augustine, along with his family.

2 million+ people come to St. Augustine’s historic Spanish Quarter every year for the history, and tons more people from Massachusetts, New York, PA, and Jersey come to live in St. Augustine during the winter. St. Augustine is only 15-30 minutes south of Jacksonville (basically a suburb) and while comparatively speaking to some other parts of FL, Jacksonville is not a winter resort and snowbird hub while St. Augustine certainly is. When you visit, you will most likely see a ton of NE license plates and plates from all over the country, and no matter the time of year, the day, or the time of day, traffic is dense. Everyone needs to go at least once in their life. A week long vacation is easy in St. A. There are so many attractions in the historic district and on Anastasia Island (Alligator Farm, Lighthouse, and just south Marineland). There is the beach, and there are two of the country’s best outlet malls at the entrance to St. A on 95. Temps in the summer (which lasts from early April to late October) range from 75 at night to 90 in the day, and there is a comfortable period from Late October to Christmas, 2 months of winter (temps range from 45-50 at night, sometimes colder, to 60-70 in the day), and 1 month of spring. Temps in Jax are similar since they are next to each other.

Anyway on to the tour.

One of the visitor centers, yes it is an old building.

The garage one parks in to walk into the historic Spanish Quarter.

Some city gates probably dating to the 1500 or 1600s

One of many side streets off of the main artery, St. George

Hey buddy, put a shirt on.

Columbia Restaurant, in the family since 1905. The original is actually in Ybor City, Tampa, but this restaurant was second and came shortly after. It’s run by the Cuban great grandchildren of the original owners.

1710 Governor’s house

The original cathedrals were all torched on numerous occasions by the British (Sir Francis Drake was one of them). The current cathedral was fully completed in 1793 (started earlier, though). I couldn’t get a picture inside because it was Sunday and there were services.

I like taking pictures of tropical plants, forgive me, the King Sago growing nicely at the highest latitude it can grow (basically coastal Jacksonville, no higher). At the base are some tropical palms.

Don’t know what happened to my lens. A huge storm had just passed through though.

Has a sort of French look. The French may have ruled here at one point. I know they settled Jacksonville at Fort Caroline in 1563, 2 years before Menendez settled St. Augustine.

Some Foxtails that barely survived our last winter (worst winter in NE FL since probably the 1980s). Foxtails can’t really survive in temperatures lower than 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so even in St. Augustine and Jacksonville, they need to be near water which keeps the local property warmer in the winter and they need to be under larger trees and protected from the west by fencing. It’s a challenge, but worth it. We had foxtails at my house in Jacksonville for years until this winter.

Residential district where the houses date to the 18th and 19th centuries. (some date to the 17th century, too)

Areca palms barely holding on after this winter. Again, they can’t handle temps below 30 degrees.

Barracks. Couldn’t tell you if they were Spanish, French, British, or even American back in the day.

Can you see the lighthouse on Anastasia Island?

The oldest surviving Spanish colonial dwelling in Florida. It dates to the 1600s and is named the Gonzalez-Alvarez house. It has been a museum since 1893.


A convent.

Can anyone identify this plant?

Don’t know what this plant is.

Lightner Museum, one of Flagler’s original resorts built in the 1880s.

Flagler College, originally the Ponce Hotel built by Henry Flagler in 1886. It has 1,700 students, mainly from northern states, and is a small private liberal arts college. It’s like Rollins College in Winter Park near Orlando.

Castillo de San Marcos, constructed in the 1600s after Sir Francis Drake torched the city of St. Augustine. There is another fort south of the city called Fort Matanzas, which is equally as interesting. There is also a fort in Jacksonville that is even older called Fort Caroline, built by the French. Lastly, there is another LARGE fort on Amelia Island north of Jacksonville called Fort Clinch, built by the U.S. in the 1800s. All in the Jax metro has 4 substantial forts built over 4 centuries (1500s to 1800s) by 3 different colonizing empires.

In the Columbia Restaurant

One of several yachts docked in the area. Ft. Lauderdale may the be yacht capital of the world, but we are still in FL and NE FL marinas are cheaper than S FL marinas to harbor yachts of 100+ ft. Interestingly, this yacht is parked right next to the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, perhaps the most famous school to serve such disabled kids. Ray Charles went to that school and actually got started in the area (in the Harlem of the South, Lavilla in Jacksonville).

Henry Flagler and his family are buried here.

These next pictures were taken last winter from my car.

Newly reopened Bridge of Lions

4 star Casa Monica hotel built by Henry Flagler as one of his 3 original resorts in the 1880s.

Florida East Coast Railway HQ, Henry Flagler’s railway.

San Sebastien Winery

See my other photo threads—

Mansions in Ortega

FL’s largest historic district – Riverside and Avondale

Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhood – Springfield

Mediterranean Architecture and more FL Mansions/A Taste of Europe in FL

Extensive Downtown Jacksonville Tour with Aerials, Nightlife, a Lambo, and More
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Old August 29th, 2010, 12:49 PM   #2
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Really a good looking, very nice place
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Old August 29th, 2010, 06:45 PM   #3
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Very beautiful!
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Old August 29th, 2010, 10:07 PM   #4
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I have heard it is USA:s oldest city before, but it's rare to see pics of St Augustine. So thanks for those!
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Old August 30th, 2010, 01:43 AM   #5
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I have always thought it kind of strange that Florida is so full of new stuff, yet also has the oldest town in the US.

Nice pics.
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Old August 31st, 2010, 12:09 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Somnifor View Post
I have always thought it kind of strange that Florida is so full of new stuff, yet also has the oldest town in the US.

Nice pics.
I think you would be pleasantly surprised at how old parts of FL are. Jacksonville has the greatest extent of history since it was THE winter destination and metropolis of FL until Miami took over around the 1930s and 1940s, but there is a good bit of history in Palm Beach and south Miami in the Coral Gables area and in Miami Beach. Tampa has some history, but much of it has been wiped out unfortunately, and Pensacola has old Gulf Coast history/buildings like Mobile and New Orleans. Really the only purely new city is Orlando, and of course areas like SW FL, Destin, Daytona for the most part, and the Treasure Coast are all 1970s and beyond.

100,000 people were travelling to Jacksonville to winter every year by 1885, and in its heyday, Jacksonville Terminal, completed in 1919 and modelled after Penn Station had 124 trains and ~20,000 passengers come through every day.

Forgot to mention, the adopted home of Ernest Hemingway, Key West, is really quite old, too. Almost all of the buildings there and around Duval Street date to the 1800s.

Between St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Fernandina Beach (Amelia Island outside of Jacksonville), Sea Island, Savannah, Beaufort, and Charleston, there is a ton of extremely old history in just that ~300 miles coastal stretch. Coincidentally, the East Coast's largest ports (outside of NY-NJ) are here in Jax, Savannah, Brunswick (eh, still small), and Charleston.

Bottom line, it's an area you should visit
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Old August 31st, 2010, 01:38 AM   #7
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stunning charming city.
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Old August 31st, 2010, 01:58 AM   #8
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Nice photos from a nice town
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Old August 31st, 2010, 02:41 AM   #9
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wow, wonderful tour and really nice pictures. I have heard alot about St. Augustine, but never visited or have seen so many pictures displaying the city. Hopefully i'll make it down there instead of hitting up the usual beach resort towns in Florida.
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florida, jacksonville, st. augustine

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