Long ago, Northeast Florida was
first inhabited by Timucuan Indians who lived along
creeks and waterways. The Spanish came into the area
in 1513, led by Juan Ponce de Leon. He named the
area La Florida and, in doing so, established the
region's rich tradition of history and heritage. In
1564, the French built Fort Caroline in what is now
Jacksonville, establishing the first Protestant
colony in America. They lost their foothold in
Florida to the Spanish, who conquered the French and
built a settlement in nearby St. Augustine in 1565,
55 years before the Mayflower landed in Plymouth,
A major page of history turned
when Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821 and a
year later at "Cowford" a narrow spot on
the St. Johns River to ferry cows across, the town
of Jacksonville was established (named after General
Andrew Jackson.) By the time Florida achieved
statehood in 1845, Jacksonville was an important
port in the cotton and timber trades.
During the mid-to-late 19th
century, Jacksonville was billed as the "winter
city in summerland" and became a haven for
those seeking respite from colder northern climate.
The sunny weather, beautiful beaches, a major
shipping port, and the busy waterways drew tourists
from around the world.
A raging fire in 1901 destroyed
2,368 downtown buildings but launched a renaissance
which set the city on its modern-day course.
Although slowed somewhat by the depression,
Jacksonville rebounded during World War II with the
building of military installations. In 1968, the
city and county governments were joined to create
the geographically largest city in the contiguous 48
states. At about the same time, modern skyscrapers
and additional bridges were built making way for
major development south of the river.
For the next 25 years, Jacksonville's
river and its ocean port again served as the
lifeblood of the area, attracting many new
residents, businesses and visitors. The city quietly
evolved into a major business center of the South.
In 1993, the quiet ended. The National Football
League awarded a franchise to Jacksonville, pushing
the city into the national spotlight and toward a
Today, Jacksonville is an
exciting vibrant city that maximizes its natural
attributes and reaches out to welcome visitors.