Located in the southeastern region of the Country and claiming Tallahassee as its capital city, the most accurate description of the peninsula-shaped 27th State, admitted to the Union on March 3, 1845, is that it has become a famously wellknown, overwhelming large, Retiree and Snowbird haven.
Native American Indians:
Bordered by Alabama, Georgia, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean many tribes of Native American Indians inhabited the area that became Florida several thousands of years before Europeans settled there including the Apalachees in the Panhandle, the Ais along the Indian River, the Timucua of northern Florida, the Tocobago around Tampa Bay, the Calusa that occupied the State’s southwest coast, the Lake Okeechobee Mayaimis, the Jaegas around Palm Beach County, the Tequertas who lived around the southeastern Atlantic coast, the Alafees, the Amacanos, the Appalachicolas, the little known Boca Ratones and Bonitos, the Chatot, the Guale, the Hitchiti, the Joroco, the Florida Key Indians, the Mikasuki, the Miccosukee, the Micanopy, the Oconee, the Choctaw, the Pensacola, the Shawnee, the Surruque, the Mayaca, the Mocama, the Acuera, the Agua Fresca, the Ocale, the Potano, the Yamasee, the Yuchi, the Creek, and the Seminoles of which about three thousand members were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, and more.
On April 2, 1513 Spanish Explorer Juan Ponce de Leon named Florida during Pascua Florida, the Spanish Feast of Flowers Celebration, with a name that means “flowering Easter,” or “flowered land,” and the State became known as La Florida, which is the oldest European place-name in the United States, and in 1630 the State was known as Tequesta.
In 1559 the short lived Pensacola was established as the first European settlement in the Continental United States, and in 1565 Saint Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European city, and oldest port in the Country, was established along Florida’s First Coast. Florida was also the home of the first completely Black settlement in the United States comprised mostly of runaway ex-slaves residing in Garcia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, now a National Historic Landmark two miles north of Saint Augustine, known as the Fort Mose Historic State Park.
United States Possession:
England gained control of Florida through the 1763 Peace of Paris, in exchange for Havanna, Cuba that had been captured during the Seven Years War, and divided the Colony into West Florida, with Pensacola its capital city, and East Florida, with Saint Augustine its capital city, but lost the Colony after the American Revolutionary War, and the 1783 Treaty of Versailles. The 1817-1818 First Seminole War allowed the United States to gain East Florida, and under the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty, Spain ceded West Florida to the United States in exchange for the Texas Territory gained with the Louisiana Purchase and five million dollars.
On January 10, 1861 Florida seceded from the Union and became a Founding Member of the Confederate States of America, but was restored back to the Union on June 25, 1868, and remained the least heavily populated Southern State until the middle of the nineteen hundreds when a favorable climate, air conditioning, and a low cost of living enticed the population to explode into Florida becoming the most heavily populated Southeastern State, the second most heavily populated Southern State, and the fourth most heavily populated of the United States.
Florida has more than four hundred in-service airstrips, many remaining from the days of World War Two, 131 public airports, and more than 700 private airports, airstrips, and seaplane bases located throughout the third largest State in terms of water area.
The Florida Platform, containing the peninsula, is a bedrock karst limestone plateau, with underwater caves, springs, sinkholes, and many world famous beaches. Britton Hill, at an elevation of 345 feet, is the highest point in the State and the lowest highpoint of any American State. Vistas, coastlines, rolling hills, Sugarloaf Mountain in Lake County, the Florida Keys, the Gulf of Mexico, Lake Okeechobee, and the Everglades can also be found in Florida.
Major bodies of water found in the State include the Indian River, the Eau Gallie River, the Saint Mary’s River, the Saint John’s River, the Ocklawaha River, the Econlockhatchee River, the Trout River, the Ribault River, the Saint Lucie River, the Wekiva River, the Halifax River, the Apalachicola River, the Alafia River, the Chipola River, the Blackwater River, the Manatee River, the Sopchoppy River, the Suwannee River, the Santa Fe River, the Flint River, the Wacissa River, the Crystal River, the Homosassa River, the Weeki Wachee River, the Silver River, Black Creek, Dunns Creek, Crane Creek, Turkey Creek, Elbow Creek, and many more.
National Park Service Sites:
National Park Service sites found in Florida include the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville that contains the Fort Caroline National Memorial, the Kingsley Plantation, and critical wetland habitats, the Big Cypress National Preserve west of Miami that borders the prairies of the Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands Region off the southwest coast of Florida, that was the first National Preserve in the United States National Park system, Biscayne National Park east of Homestead, that preserves Biscayne Bay, one of the Country’s top coral reef scuba diving areas, the Gulf Islands National Seashore along the barrier islands of the Gulf of Mexico, the 1924-built Fort Matanzas National Monument and the 1740 Spanish Fort Matanzas, on Florida’s northern Atlantic coast, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Canaveral National Seashore, home of the Kennedy Space Center, Playalinda Beach, Klondike Beach, the nudist beach known as Apollo Beach, and Mosquito Lagoon, the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, known as Fort Saint Mark from 1763 to 1784, and as Fort Marion from 1821 to about 1942, a Spanish-built fort in Saint Augustine, the Fort Caroline National Monument, established June 22, 1564, as the first French Colony in the United States, the Dry Tortugas National Park of the Florida Keys, known for coral reefs, sealife, shipwrecks, sunken treasures, and Fort Jefferson that is made of more than sixteen million bricks, the De Soto National Monument west of Bradenton that commemorates the 1539 De Soto landing and first exploration of the southern United States, and the Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical Wilderness in the country, and the third largest National Park in America, that was created to protect approximately thirty-six Threatened wildlife species including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, the West Indian manatees, wading birds, three hundred species of fish, forty species of mammals, fifty species of reptiles, the Biscayne Aquifer, and the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere.
National Forests located in the State of Florida include the Osceola National Forest of pine and cypress swamps in northeastern Florida, including part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, the Ocala National Forest, the second largest National Forest in the United States, the oldest National Forest east of the Mississippi River, and the southernmost National Forest in the country, the Choctawhatchee National Forest near the Emerald Coast, known as the “Redneck Riviera,” and the “Playground Area of the Gulf Coast,” and the Apalachicola National Forest, the largest National Forest in Florida, that contains two Wilderness Areas known as Mudswamp/New River and Bradwell Bay, as well as the Fort Gadsden Historic Site.
Florida beaches comprise a perpetual list of Who’s Who in the beach world, and perhaps none of them is any more popular than Daytona Beach, an approximately 23-mile long, family-friendly collection of joined beaches that form a huge sea-side park, as well as offer a mecca for motorsports and driving on the beach. The headquarters of NASCAR, the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and the United States Tennis Association can be found in Daytona Beach, the home of many annual events including Bike Weeks, Biktoberfests, Speedweeks, and the Coke Zero 400. With beachside hotels, motels, condominiums, and about eight million visitors each year, along with being susceptible to hurricanes, tornadoes, and rogue waves like the one on July 3, 1992 that was 27-miles long, Daytona remains the world’s most famous beach of all. Other extremely popular Florida beaches include Panama City Beach, a wellknown Spring Break destination, Miami Beach, Pensacola Beach, Bradenton Beach, Clearwater Beach, Saint Pete Beach, Saint Augustine Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Naples Beach, Sanibel Island Beach Captiva Island Beach, Anna Maria Island Beach, Longboat Key Beach, Lido Key Beach, Key Largo Beach, Indian Shores Beach, Redington Beach, Mederia Beach, Boca Grande Beach, Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and many more.
There are approximately 168 State Parks scattered around the State of Florida featuring alligators, birds of prey, black bears, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, biking, picnicking, and several other activiities, which can be found in locations including the Amelia Island State Recreation Area with horseback rides along the Atlantic Ocean, the Blue Springs State Park with Winter manatee sightings, the Blackwater River State Park, the Crystal River Preserve State Park, the Dade Battlefield State Historic Site, the De Leon Springs State Recreation Area, Old Sugar Mill, and 100-mile long Lakes-N-Hills Bike Route, the Falling Waters State Recreation Area, the Florida Caverns State Park, the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, the Hontoon Island State Park, the Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, the Lake Griffin State Park, the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve, the Manatee Springs State Park, the Ponce de Leon State Park, the Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area, the Silver River State Park, the Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center, the Three Rivers State Recreation Area, the Wekiva Springs State Park, and the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins State Historic Site.
Comprised of about 1700 islands the Florida Keys begin at the end of the peninsula south of Miami, and reach in a southwestern arch through the Florida Straits, to Dry Tortugas dividing the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico and defining Florida Bay, which is located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and considered to be the “Waterspout Capital of the World,” because of the nearly five hundred waterspouts found there each year.
US Highway One, known as the Overseas Highway, travels the full length of the Keys including Soldier Key, Sands Key, Ragged Key, Boca Chita Key, Old Rhodes Key, Elliott Key, Totten Key, Adams Key, Rubicon Key, Reid Key, Key Largo, Plantation Key, Windley Key, Islamorada, Rattlesnake Key, Spanish Harbor Key, No Name Key, Big Pine Key, and more that are connected by forty-three bridges including the famous Seven Mile Bridge between Knight’s Key and Little Duck Key.
Approximately 488 known hurricanes have struck the State of Florida over the years, more than any other State has experienced, and since 1851 only eighteen Hurricane Seasons have passed without at least one storm making landfall in Florida.
Hurricanes have struck the State in every month of the year except for January and March, with August, September, and October, the height of the Hurricane Season that officially runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, the most active months for the storms, and Monroe County, in the Florida Keys, has been struck at least twenty-six times, the most of any County in the United States.
The first recorded Florida hurricane occurred in 1523 on the western coastline of the State, and 159 hurricanes are known to have struck Florida before 1900.
The strongest hurricane to ever make landfall was the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, that had a registered pressure of 892 millibars, making it the strongest one in the history of the United States.
Some of the major hurricanes that have made landfall in the State of Florida include the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, the 1926 Miami hurricane, and Hurricanes Donna, Dora, Easy, King, Cleo, Betsy, Isbell, Andrew, Eloise, David, Opal, Charley, Jeanne, Dennis, Ivan, Wilma, Elana, and Katrina, all of which were Category Three, or stronger, hurricanes when they landed.
More than 75 million tourists visit Florida every year to experience some of its most popular Attractions including Universal Studios, Sea World, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove, Fantasy of Flight, Gatorland, the Kennedy Space Center, the Orlando Science Center, Silver Springs and its world famous glass-bottom boats, Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, Islands of Adventure, the Magic Kingdom, the Disney Hollywood Studios, the Key West Shipwreck Historeum Museum, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, the Miami Metrozoo, the Viscaya Museum and Gardens, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Little Havana, the Miami Childrens Museum, the Stranahan House and Museum, Fort Lauderdale’s oldest building, the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the Villa Zorayda Museum, the Museum of Southern History, the Jacksonville Zoo, the Pensacola Lighthouse, the Walking Ghost Tour of Amelia Island, and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to name a few of the more than 2500 activities the State has to offer.
Located in the First Coast region of northeast Florida, along the Saint John’s River, Jacksonville is the largest city in land area, and the twelfth most heavily populated city, in the contiguous United States.
Founded in 1791 as Cowford, and renamed in 1822 by Andrew Jackson one year after the United States acquired the Florida Colony from Spain, Ossachite, the Timucua Indian name for the settlement that ultimately became Jacksonville, about the early part of the Fifteenth Century, was settled by the French as Fort Caroline.
The Great Fire of May 3, 1901 that struck downtown Jacksonville was one of the worst disasters in Florida history, and the largest urban fire in the southeastern United States, requiring approximately thirteen thousand buildings being reconstructed.
More than thirty Silent Movies were filmed in Jacksonville during the decade 1910 to 1920 making the city the “Winter Film Capital of the World,” and the Jacksonville Silent Film Museum at Norman Studios remains from those days in Arlington, southeast of the Saint John’s River, outside Jacksonville.
Tourism, banking, insurance, and the US Navy became major industries in Jacksonville with Corporations like Prudential Insurance, Barnett Bank, Florida National Bank, Atlantic National Bank, Gulf Life, Independent Life, and American Heritage Insurance appearing.
Jacksonville can be divided into six main sections based on size including the Downtown Urban Core, Arlington, North Jacksonville, West Jacksonville, Northwest Jacksonville, and Southeast Jacksonville, and the city has also annexed several neighborhoods that were once independent towns including Springfield, Bayard, LaVilla, Mandarin, and others.
Featuring more than 335 sites located throughout the city, Jacksonville has the largest Urban Park System in the United States, including Hemming Plaza, the first and oldest park in Jacksonville, Kids Kampus, the Tree Hill Nature Center, the Veterans Memorial Wall, the Jessie Ball Du Pont Park, the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, and the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail.
Jacksonville is the home of several annual events including the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, better known as the Florida-Georgia College Football Game, the Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament, Planetfest, the Jacksonville Agricultural Fair, the Jacksonville Film Festival, the World of Nations Celebration, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, the Tree Hill Nature Center Butterfly Festival, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Automobile Event, the Blessing of the Fleet, the Gate River Run, the largest 15K run in the Country, and the United States National Championship 15K Race with several thousand participants.
Jacksonville Attractions include the Jacksonville Landing’s riverfront dining and shopping venue, the Jacksonville Riverwalk along the Saint John’s River, the Jacksonville Maritime Museum, the Museum of Science and History, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, the Karpeles Manuscript Library with the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents, the Catherine Street Fire Station on the National Register of Historic Places, the Palm and Cycad Arboretum, Shipwreck Island, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Alexander Brest Museum and Gallery, the Kent Gallery on the Florida State College at Jacksonville campus, the Wilson Center for the Arts, the University Gallery, and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Wellknown as a Global City, and located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida, Miami is the most heavily populated city in the State, and the fourth most heavily populated urban area in the Country.
Commerce, tourism, finance, print media, culture, fashion, music, arts and entertainment, and International Trade are major industries in Miami.
The home of the largest number of International Banks in the United States, and the headquarters of many International Companies, Miami is also the Number One passenger and cruise ship port in the world.
Originally inhabited by Tequesta Indians, then claimed by Spain in 1566, and with the smallest land area, approximately 35 square miles, of any American city with a metropolitan area in excess of two and one half million people, Miami is the only US city bordered by two National Parks, the Everglades National Park and the Biscayne National Park.
Containing many barrier islands including Miami Beach, and South Beach that separates the Atlantic Ocean from Biscayne Bay, with an extremely exclusive night life non-locals may have a hard time participating in, Miami was better known as the “Biscayne Bay Country,” when it became the only major US city founded by a woman.
Miami has been the set of many popular television shows and movies including CSI: Miami, Dexter, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Golden Girls, Miami Vice, the MTV Video Music Awards, Miami Animal Police, Hogan Knows Best, There’s Something About Mary, Marley & Me, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Police Academy 5, Scarface, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and Casino Royale.
Miami Attractions include the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the second largest Performing Arts Center in the United States, the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, the Jackie Gleason Theater, the Bass Museum, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, the Miami Art Museum, the Miami Childrens Museum, Jungle Island, the Miami Seaquarium, Bayfront Park, Bicentennial Park, the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, the Art Basel Miami Beach, known as the “Olympics of Art,” the world’s largest art exhibition and show, the Miami Fashion Week, and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami.
A Gulf Coast city, Tampa was originally inhabited by several Native American Indian tribes including the Tocobagas, but was not settled until 1824, when Fort Brooke was established by the United States Army to protect residents from Seminole Indian attacks.
The Tampa metropolitan area is the fourth largest in the Southeastern region of the Country, and has been ranked by Forbes Magazine as the 2008 Fifth Best Outdoor City In America, and by the New York University newspaper as a 2004 Top City For “Twenty-Somethings”.
In the Calusa Indian language the name “Tampa” means ” sticks of fire,” a possible reference to the numerous lightning strikes the city endures during the Summer months.
Tampa landmarks include the 1920s Sulpher Springs Water Tower, the Ybor City District, on the National Register of Historic Places, the Mediterranean-style architecture found on Davis Island, eighteen skyscrapers over 250 feet tall, sixty-nine high-rise buildings, and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge spanning Tampa Bay.
Finance, retail, real estate, and insurance are major industries found in Tampa, with the area serving as the headquarters for several Fortune 1000 Companies including TECO Energy, Walter Industries, Raymond James Financial, WellCare Health Plans, OSI Restaurant Partners, and more.
The Port of Tampa is the seventh largest in the United States, Florida’s largest by tonnage volume, and the second largest cruise ship port servicing three Cruise Lines, Carnival, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean.
Tampa Attractions include the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Aquarium, the American Victory Museum, the famous high-end restaurants of South Howard Avenue, known as SoHo Tampa, the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe and Casino, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Tampa Planetarium, the World War One Victory Ship known as the SS American Victory, the Tampa Bay House Center, Busch Gardens, the Adventure Island Water Park, the Lowry Park Zoo, the Tampa Bay History Center, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, the Saint Yago Knight Parade, the Guavaween Halloween Celebration, and the Florida State Fair.
Located between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and connected in part to the city of Tampa by the Gandy Causeway Bridge, the second largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the State of Florida is a popular vacation destination for tourists from around the world.
Founded in 1878, and Incorporated on February 29, 1892, Saint Petersburg is known as the “Sunshine City,” and is a preferred retirement community especially for Northerners from Detroit, Chicago, and New York.
Saint Petersburg Attractions include the Great Explorations Childrens Museum of Arts, the Holocaust Museum, the Salvador Dali Museum with the world’s largest collection of Dali’s paintings including “The Discovery of America By Christopher Columbus,” the Mahaffey Theater, the Florida Craftsmen Gallery, the Saint Petersburg Pier and Aquarium, a replica of the HMS Bounty, the BayWalk Shopping Complex, the Jannus Landing concert venue, the Kenwood United States Historic District, Sunken Gardens, the Boyd Hill Nature Park, Fort DeSoto, the 2008 TripAdvisor Number One ranked beach in America, the Florida International Museum, the Vinoy Park music venue, Tropicana Field, and the Honda Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg.
Located in the central region of the State, and sparsley populated before 1826 by Creek and Seminole Indians, Orlando was Incorporated on July 31, 1875, and became a city in 1885.
The location of the University of Central Florida, one of the largest colleges by student enrollment in the United States, and originally a major citrus-growing area, Orlando became the home of Theme Parks and the third most frequently visited American city for 2007.
Previously known as Jernigan, Orlando was mistakenly named by early settlers from what they believed to be a grave site marker for a Pioneer soldier found on a tree near Lake Eola.
Becoming the seat of Orange County in 1856, when it was divided off of Mosquito County, and Florida’s largest inland city, Orlando became a boom town in 1965 when Walt Disney announced his plans to build Walt Disney World, which opened in 1971, making tourism the major centerpiece of the Orlando economy.
Orlando Theme Parks and Entertainment Attractions include Walt Disney World, the Epcot Center, the Wide World of Sports Complex, the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, the Wet n” Wild Water Park, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, Discovery Cove, CityWalk, and the second largest number of hotel rooms in the Country to support them, making Orlando one of the top vacation destinations in the world.
Popular Orlando Theaters include the Amway Center, the Doctor P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, the Orlando Repertory Theater, the Mad Cow Theater, the Osceola Center for the Arts, the Winter Park Playhouse, the Ice House Theater, the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival, and the Florida Sunshine Opry for Live Country Music in Eustis.
Popular books, television shows, music, and movies recorded in Orlando include Alas, Babylon, Ernest Saves Christmas, Larry The Cable Guy, Never Back Down, Problem Child 2, Jaws 3, Lethal Weapon 3, The Waterboy, The Blair Witch Project, Coach, and the major Acts that derived from the mid-1990s Boy Band music fad including the Backstreet Boys, NSync, O-Town, Seven Mary Three, and Matchbox Twenty.
The original boyhood home of this Author has a French name meaning “rocky water,” from 1857 to 1969 Eau Gallie was an independent city that eventually merged with Melbourne, and from 1874 to 1878 was the County seat for Brevard County.
Eau Gallie won a 2003 National American Planning Award for downtown redevelopment and contains several museums including the Historic Rossetter House Museum, the Brevard Art Museum, the Roesch House, the Winchester Symphony House, and the James Wadsworth Rossetter House that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The United States Series I am writing here on associatedcontent.com provides an indepth look at all fifty States that make up this GREAT Country of ours and their five largest cities.
The current list of Articles for the United States Series I have published to date includes:
So This Is Sweet Home Alabama
Alaska – The Land of the Midnight Sun
Arizona – The Valley of the Sun
Arkansas – People of the South Wind
California – The Golden Gate, Earthquakes, and Grizzly Bears
Colorful Colorado – The Rocky Mountains, Skiing, and High Technology
Connecticut – The Land of Steady Habits
Delaware – The Small Wonder
Georgia – Goobers, Peaches, and Buzzards
Hawaii – Luaus, Pineapples, and Beaches
Idaho – The Gem of the Mountains and Potatoes State
Illinois – Mining, Factories, and Labor Unions
Indiana – Land of Steel and Ducks
Iowa – The Ethanol and Food Capital of the World
Bleeding Kansas America’s Flattest State
Kentucky – The Land of Tomorrow
Louisiana – The Child of the Mississippi
Maine – Lobsters, Lighthouses, and Black Bears
Maryland – The “Oh Say Can You See” State
Massachusetts – The Cradle of Liberty
Michigan – The Automotive State
Minnesota – The Bread and Butter State
Mississippi – Where Cotton Was King
Comments from readers are always welcome so let me know what you think about these Articles.
This article was compiled from websites that provide much more information on Florida including:
visitjacksonville.com, miamiandbeaches.com, visittampabay.com, stpete.org, and orlandoinfo.com.