Jacksonville, FL History

A Brief History Of The City Of Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida is a very large city, having the most square miles of any other city in the continental US. It also has a large and culturally varied population of over 800,000 people that have come from various other parts of the US and abroad. Since it is in the Southern US it has a fairly warm climate year round but it can average 42F nights and 64F daytime highs in January or 72F nights and 91F days in July which is warmer than many states to the north. For this reason, there are a lot of retired people that spend their winters in Florida to escape the extreme cold and then return north in the summer, they are sometimes called “Snow Birds” because of this habit. Let’s take a quick look at the history of Jacksonville, Florida to understand why it has become the multicultural city that it is today.

Jacksonville, FL HistoryThe Oldest Native American Village In The US Is In Jacksonville

The pottery remnants date back to around 2500 BC and were discovered by the researchers from the University of North Florida. After that, several different Native groups occupied the area, mostly part of the Mocama Tribe and their villages centered around the mouth of the St. Johns River and into downtown Jacksonville. At the time Europeans landed the village was called Ossachite.

In May of 1562 the French explorer Jean Ribault charted the St Johns river and named it in French “The River of May” and there is still a stone statue at the site for when he claimed the territory for France. Two years later the first European settlement was established by the French by Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere and was named Ft. Caroline. Then King Phillip of Spain ordered the fort attacked to protect their interests and killed most of the French soldiers there. The Spanish renamed the fort San Mateo and remained in control until the entire state of Florida was ceded to the British in 1763.

With British control came the cultivation of sugar cane, fruits, and the cutting of trees for lumber exports. This was an increase in economic prosperity for the entire region meaning more jobs, more ships, and more opportunity for all. But, after just 20 years, in 1783, the British relinquished control back to the Spanish when they were defeated by the Americans in the Revolutionary War. Then Spain ceded the area once again, this time to the Americans in 1821, who began laying out plans for a larger town rather than just a fort. Jacksonville is named after the 7th president of the US, and first governor of the Florida Territory, Andrew Jackson.

During the American Civil War, the town of Jacksonville traded hands several times. It was an important shipping point for the Confederates so the Union army continued to try and control the area. After the war, several presidents realized the area was a great attraction because of the mild climate in the winter and Grover Cleveland even attended the Sub-Tropical Exposition in Jacksonville in 1888. During that era, there were many trips made to the city by rich northerners using steamboats and eventually railroad as its popularity began to grow.

In modern times the demographics have changed due to immigrants from other parts of the US and the Caribbean as well. There has been an influx of retirees from many colder climates in the US, especially the North East. In addition to that, there are also plenty of Caribbean immigrants that have come from the various islands around the area and continue to do so over time.

If you haven’t been to Jacksonville, FL lately you’ll note that the city has grown and is still growing faster than many others in the US. There continues to be plenty of people seeking the warm tropical climate as well as the slower, more laid back culture that can be had in this great city. If you do happen to be in the area be sure to stop by our Jacksonville office on Baymeadows Rd.

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