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First Coast

The First Coast.PNG


Location in the state of Florida

Major cities Jacksonville

Fernandina Beach
St. Augustine
Orange Park
Palm Coast

Area
 - Total
 - Water

9,530 km² (3,680 mi²)
1,448 km² (560 mi²) 15.19%
Population
 - Total (2006)
 - Density
 
1,575,971
120.71/km² (312.59/mi²)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5

The First Coast is a region of Florida, in the United States. It extends along the Atlantic, or eastern, coast of the state, from the Georgia border, past the southern end of Anastasia Island, to Marineland.

The name First Coast is an intentional double entendre – it refers to both the first permanent European settlement (St. Augustine) which lies within its boundaries, and also that it is the "first coast" within the state of Florida that one would encounter while traveling southbound along the Atlantic seaboard.

The name was coined in the 1970s, when a group of representatives from local Chambers of Commerce wanted to market the region of Northeast Florida in a manner similar to other Florida regions, which had chosen such appellations as "Sun Coast", "Emerald Coast", and "Treasure Coast". Though it could have faded into oblivion like many other marketing ideas, the name took off during the mid-1980s. The name became more official when First Coast High School opened in Jacksonville in 1990. When the newscasts of the NBC and ABC affiliates in Jacksonville merged in 2000, they chose the name First Coast News, adding to regional and national recognition of the name.

The region includes all of the counties of Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, and St. Johns. The principal cities of Florida's First Coast include Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville, Orange Park, and St. Augustine. The terrain consists of a coastal plain with low hills along the bluffs of the St. Johns River. Trail Ridge, an ancient seashore, borders the western boundary of the First Coast and separates the region from the Okefenokee Swamp. Culturally, the region is much closer to the Deep South than much of peninsular Florida. As of 2000, the region had a population of 1,500,950.

History

The history of the First Coast can be traced back over 12,000 years, when the area was first inhabited by indigenous Native Americans. At the time of initial European contact in the mid-16th century, the Timucuan people were settled here. Modern European colonization began in 1564, when René Goulaine de Laudonnière founded the French Colony of Fort Caroline, near the mouth of the St. Johns River, close to modern-day Jacksonville. On August 28, 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded the city of St. Augustine for Spain. After defeating the French in skirmishes around the area, Spanish forces firmly established the area as their own.

Spanish rule continued until 1763, when Spain ceded control of Florida to Great Britain. As the territory was taken over by the British, most of the Spanish population left the area, many of them going to Louisiana and other French territories. Many of the remaining native population also migrated before encroachment by Anglo-American colonists. After the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783, Britain ceded Florida back to Spain, beginning the second period of Spanish rule. During this time, many pioneer settlers emigrated to the First Coast from the United States. The town of Cowford, now Jacksonville, was settled in 1791.

In 1819, Spain signed the Adams-Onís Treaty with the United States, giving all of Spanish Florida to the U.S. for $5,000,000.

American settlement of the First Coast expanded rapidly after the Treaty. The city of Jacksonville was formally established in 1832; this period also saw the founding of many of the cities along the First Coast.

The Civil War brought minor actions to the area. After Florida's secession, which occurred on January 10, 1861, Union forces occupied and controlled most of the region early in the war. Jacksonville was an important Southern port. By mid 1862, most of the First Coast was in Union hands, and would remain so for the rest of the war.

In the postwar years, more people began to settle along the coast. Through the end of the 19th century, the area's beaches and warm weather drew an increasing number of tourists from the Northeast and Midwest. The construction of Henry Flagler's railroad to Miami led to a decline in the First Coast's tourist industry. Some cities have remained popular destinations to this day. Amelia Island and St. Augustine are especially popular for their beaches and historic importance.

No known hurricanes made landfall on the First Coast until 1964 when Hurricane Dora came ashore near St. Johns County in the early morning hours of September 10, 1964.

Major professional sports finally arrived on the First Coast in 1995 when the Jacksonville Jaguars began play in the National Football League.

See also

External links








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