St Augustine, Florida is the oldest city occupied by European and English settlers in the United States. It was founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles a Spanish admiral, in 1565. A decree was issued to Menendez by the Spanish Crown granted the admiral expansive privileges to exploit the lands and to explore the Atlantic Coast region and report on his findings. The objective was to find a suitable spot to establish a colony and a location the Spanish could defend their territory from other European powers.
On August 28, 1565, Pedro Menendez first saw the land that is now St. Augustine from his ship. Immediately, he named his colony’s settlement San Agustin. This was in the honor of the patron saint of his hometown, Aviles.
Menendez’s endeavor was to construct fortifications around San Agustin to protect his people and supplies. The fortification would also serve as a post for further Spanish expansion in the region.
A year after establishing the settlement, the first European child was born in San Agustin. The child was named Martin de Arguelles.
In 1566 St. Augustine settlement was burnt by the Saturiwa, one of the two main chiefdoms in the area which had remained hostile to the European settlers. This forced the relocation of the settlement, but it was again attacked in 1668, an outfit led by an Englishman named Robert Searle.
Attacks went on and in 1740, the British forces attacked St. Augustine. This was the largest and most successful of this attacks which was organized and lead by General James Oglethorpe of Georgia. During the British occupation of St. Augustine, Andrew Turnbull founded the settlement of New Smyrna in 1768. The conditions of the area became so harsh that the settlers rebelled and in 1777. After walking for 70 miles from New Smyrna, the rebel settlers gained refuge in St. Augustine.
In 1783 Treaty of Paris gave the Americans colony North of Florida their independence and gave up Florida to Spain. This cemented the English settlement in St. Augustine leading to a new era when Henry Flagler arrived.
Henry Flagler arrived in St. Augustine in the 1880s. His objective was turning the city into a winter resort for the wealthy north elite. Flagler bought a couple of local railroads which he incorporated into Florida East Coast railways.
The state of St. Augustine today is frequented by travelers from Canada, Europe and the United States. The city is a well-maintained example of Spanish-style buildings and 18th and 19th-century architecture. It also has a number of oceanfront parks.