Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/St Augustine

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ST AUGUSTINE, a city of the United States, capital of St John's county, Florida, has the distinction of being the oldest city in the States built by Europeans, and has recently become a popular winter watering-place. By rail it is 36 miles south-east from Jacksonville. It stands on a narrow sandy peninsula, not more than 12 feet above the sea, formed by the Matanzas and San Sebastian rivers, and is separated from the ocean by the northern end of Anastasia Island. The streets are very narrow, the principal thoroughfares being only 12 or 15 feet wide, and the balconies of the old houses often project so as almost to meet overhead. Along the sea-front for nearly a mile extends a granite-coped sea-wall (1837-43), which forms a fine promenade. At its northern end stands the old fort of San Marco (now Fort Marion), a well-preserved specimen of Spanish military architecture (finished 1756), with moat and outworks, walls 21 feet high, bastions at the corners, heavy casemates, dungeons, and subterranean passages. It is in the form of a trapezium, and covers about 4 acres. Like most of the Spanish buildings, it is constructed of coquina, a curious shelly conglomerate from Anastasia Island, which was easily quarried, but grew very hard on exposure to the atmosphere. The same material was used for paving the streets, which were thus kept extremely clean and firm. At the southern end of the sea-wall is the old Franciscan monastery, now used as United States barracks. Of the Spanish wall which ran across the peninsula and defended the city on the north side there only remains the so-called city gate. In the centre of St Augustine is the Plaza de la Constitucion, which takes its name from the monument in the middle, erected in 1812 in memory of the Liberal Spanish Constitution. On this square stand the cathedral (1793), with a Moorish belfry, the old governor's palace, now used as a post-office and public library, and an Episcopal church in modern Gothic. Other buildings of note in the town are the convent of St Mary and the convent of the sisters of St Joseph. Modern villas and hotels have recently been erected in various parts. Palmetto straw goods are largely manufactured in St Augustine, the palmetto being one of the characteristic features of the surrounding landscape, to which orange and lemon trees also contribute. The climate is remarkably equable, the mean temperature for winter being 58°, and for the other seasons 68°, 80°, and 71° respectively. Frosts seldom occur, though that of 1835 killed many of the orange-trees. In 1880 the total population of the city was 2293, but in winter northern visitors swell the number to 7000 or 8000.

Menendez de Aviles arrived off the coast of Florida on 28th August

(St Augustine's day) 1565, and accordingly he gave the name of that saint to the city which he shortly afterwards founded. His first act was to attack the French settlement on St John's river, and two years later the French retaliated on St Augustine (see Florida, vol. ix. 340, and Ribault). In 1586 Drake attacked and plundered the town, and throughout the 17th century it frequently suffered from the raids of Indians, pirates, and the English settlers of South Carolina and Georgia. Occupied by the British from 1763 to 1783, it ultimately passed to the United States in 1821. During the

Civil War it changed hands three times.