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The Florida Panhandle with counties

The Florida Panhandle, also known as West Florida,[1] is the region of the state of Florida which includes most of the northwestern part of the state. It is a narrow strip lying between Alabama on the north and the west, Georgia also on the north, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Its eastern boundary is arbitrarily defined along some chosen county lines, and it includes Tallahassee and the eastern Big Bend sub-region.

Contents

Physical features

The Apalachicola River is the largest river of the Panhandle. It is formed by the junction of several rivers, including the Chattahoochee and the Flint, where Alabama, Georgia, and Florida meet. From there, it flows due south to the town of Apalachicola.

The largest city of the Panhandle is Tallahassee, the state's capital. Major military bases include the Naval Air Station at Pensacola (the home of Naval Aviation in the United States), Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, near Ft. Walton Beach, and Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City.

U.S. Interstate 10 is the only interstate highway in the panhandle connecting the extreme west with North Florida and Jacksonville. It also has a section of the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, linking Jacksonville on the East Coast with Santa Monica, California on the West Coast. Other older east-west routes include U.S. Hwy-90 and U.S. Hwy-98. Important north-south highways include U.S. Hwy-29, U.S. Hwy-331, and U.S. Hwy-231, all linking to Alabama and Interstate 65.

Culturally and in terms of history and climate, like the First Coast region (of northeastern Florida) and North Central Florida, this region is more closely tied to the Deep South than to the Peninsula of Florida.

History

In the 1830s, before Florida became a state, the people of the Panhandle voted to join the State of Alabama. However, before this action could be implemented, a financial scandal broke out in the Alabama Legislature, and the annexation was not carried out.

Shortly after the Civil War, residents of Florida's peninsula considered ceding the state's entire western arm to Alabama for a million dollars. Alabama's leaders decided that the land was "a sand bank and gopher region" as a result the Panhandle remained a part of Florida.

Counties

The following counties are in the Panhandle:

Cities in the Panhandle include Tallahassee, Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City. The beach towns, many of which play host to college students during spring break, in the Panhandle are sometimes known by the informal moniker – the Redneck Riviera.[citation needed] The quartz sand on the beaches of the Panhandle is so white that some traders reportedly sold it as sugar in World War II.[2] Florida State Road 20 stretches from Niceville, FL to Tallahassee, FL, covering the majority of the Panhandle, while U.S. Road 98 runs along the coast, stretching from Pensacola to St. Marks.

The Panhandle can be divided into three major sections - East, Central and Western.

The Western Florida Panhandle is dominated by coastal development and military bases, to include Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, Whiting Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, and Tyndall Air Force Base. Significant towns include Pensacola, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City.

The Central Florida Panhandle, stretching through Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties, has been marked by upscale developments in recent decades. These include Seaside, Sandestin, and countless others. In fact, development in the coastal area has become so commonplace that very little beachfront property remains untouched, unless it is under the stewardship of the Federal or State Government.

The Eastern Florida Panhandle is mostly defined by Tallahassee and its surrounding environs, including Wakulla County.

The Panhandle has a land area of 29,276.055 km² (11,303.548 sq mi), or 20.96 percent of the state's land area. Its population at the 2000 census was 1,222,492 residents, or 7.649 percent of the state's population at that time.

Some cities and counties are in Eastern Time Zone, but most are in Central Time Zone.

Major communities


References

External links

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For a list of other U.S. states with similar geographic extensions, see Panhandle
File:Panhandle
Map showing Florida counties that may be included in references to the Panhandle; the eastern extent of the Panhandle is arbitrarily defined and may vary.

The Florida Panhandle, an informal, unofficial term for the northwestern part of Florida, is a strip of land roughly 200 miles long and 50 to 100 miles wide (320 km by 80 to 160 km), lying between Alabama on the north and the west, Georgia also on the north, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Its eastern boundary is arbitrarily defined.

As is the case with the other eight U.S. states that have panhandles, the geographic meaning of the term is inexact and elastic. References to the Florida Panhandle always include the ten counties west of the Apalachicola River, a natural geographic boundary, which was the historic dividing line between the British colonies of West Florida and East Florida. These western counties also lie in the Central Time Zone, while the rest of the state is in the Eastern Time Zone. Pensacola, home of the University of West Florida, is the largest metropolitan area west of the Apalachicola (453,451 in 2007).

References to the panhandle may also include some or all of eight counties immediately east of the Apalachicola known as the Big Bend region, along the curve of Apalachee Bay. Tallahassee, the state capital, is the largest metropolitan area in this subregion (357,259 in 2008).[1][2]

The terms West Florida and Northwest Florida are generally synonymous with the Panhandle. Emerald Coast, a marketing term, refers specifically to the beaches and coastal resorts from Pensacola to Port St. Joe but is sometimes used to refer, by extension, to the Panhandle as a whole, especially west of the Apalachicola.

Contents

Physical features

The Apalachicola River is the largest river of the Panhandle. It is formed by the junction of several rivers, including the Chattahoochee and the Flint, where Alabama, Georgia, and Florida meet. From there, it flows due south to the town of Apalachicola.

U.S. Interstate 10 is the only interstate highway in the panhandle connecting the extreme west with North Florida and Jacksonville. Other older east-west routes include U.S. Highway 90 and U.S. Highway 98. Important north-south routes west of the Apalachicola River include U.S. Highway 29, U.S. Highway 331, and U.S. Highway 231, all linking to Alabama and Interstate 65.

Florida State Road 20 stretches from Niceville to Tallahassee.

The major railroad line through the Panhandle, running from Pensacola to Jacksonville, is owned by CSX railroad. (See Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad.) Regional short-line railroads serving the Panhandle are the Alabama and Gulf Coast Railway, the Bay Line Railroad and the AN Railway.

Like the First Coast and North Central Florida, this region is more similar in culture and climate to the Deep South than to the lower Peninsula of area of South Florida.

History

For the colonial history of the area before 1821, see West Florida

19th century

Throughout the 19th century, the Panhandle was sparsely populated, dotted in places with small farming communities, none of which had as many as a thousand residents. Many Panhandle residents had, in fact, migrated to the area from Alabama and had relatives there; it was also easier to trade with and travel to southern Alabama than to reach East Florida by slow, arduous journey across the thick cypress swamps and dense pine forests of the Panhandle. It was natural for West Floridians to feel that they had more in common with their nearby neighbors in Alabama than with the residents of the peninsula, hundreds of miles away.[3]

In 1821, Pensacola was the only city (in 19th-century terms) in West Florida, with a population estimated to be about 3,000. In the 1850 census, the enumerated population of Pensacola was 2,164 (including 741 slaves and 350 "free Negroes").[4]

Alabama annexation proposals

During the course of the century, proposals for ceding the Florida counties west of the Apalachicola River to Alabama were often raised:

  • In 1811, while Florida was still a Spanish possession, American residents sent a petition to Congress asking to be incorporated into the Mississippi Territory, which at that time included present-day Alabama.[5] (See West Florida article.)
  • In 1819, the constitutional convention of Alabama asked Congress to include West Florida in their new state.[5]
  • In 1822, only a year after the U.S. acquired the entire Florida territory from Spain, residents of West Florida sent a petition to the U.S. House of Representatives asking that their section be annexed to Alabama, and Alabama Senator John Williams Walker also promoted the idea.[4]
  • In 1826, the Pensacola Gazette published a number of letters advocating annexation to Alabama, though the editor remarked that some Pensacolians opposed the idea.[4]
  • In 1840, a public meeting in Pensacola produced a demand that West Florida be united with Alabama. In the same year, the territorial Legislature notified Congress that it opposed allowing Alabama to annex West Florida, but in 1844, the year before statehood, the Legislature reversed its stance and asked that West Florida be separated.[4]
  • In 1856, advocates of annexation were able to get a bill passed by the Legislature authorizing a referendum on the issue but the Governor James E. Broome vetoed the measure. The Pensacola Gazette reported that "annexation is desired by a large majority of the people" of the area.[4]
  • In 1858, the Alabama Legislature unsuccessfully tried to open negotiations with Florida on the subject.[5]
  • The annexation issue was eclipsed by the Civil War and the war's effects on the region, but in 1868, with Pensacola now connected by the Panhandle's sole railroad line to the Alabama cities of Mobile and Montgomery, the issue came to a head again and was finally put to a vote of the people. In that year, the Alabama Legislature approved a joint resolution authorizing their Governor to negotiate with the Governor of Florida about the annexation of West Florida. An offer of one million dollars in Alabama state bonds, paying 8 percent interest for thirty years, was included. Both states appointed commissioners to make detailed recommendations on the matter.[6]
  • On November 2, 1869, a referendum was held in the West Florida counties (except Jackson, which was in the throes of bloody racial violence[7]), with a result of 1162 to 661 in favor of annexation.[3] However, political objection developed in Alabama (still under carpetbag rule) to the high price, and the Legislature took no action on the results of the referendum.[5][8]
  • In 1873, a similar proposal was made in the Alabama Legislature, which the state senate approved, though it did not pass a separate proposal to finance the measure by selling all of Alabama's territory west of the Tombigbee River, including the city of Mobile, to Mississippi.[9] However, nothing came of this action.
  • In 1901, Alabama made yet another offer when the Legislature appointed a commission to negotiate with Florida about annexation, but this attempt, too, was unsuccessful.[5]

The building of the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad, completed in 1883, finally linked Pensacola and the Panhandle solidly with the rest of the state and ended the region's isolation, although from time to time during the twentieth century there were still occasional calls for annexation that generated some public discussion but no legislative action.

20th century

The area was a prime target of the 1993 Storm of the Century.

Counties

The following counties west of the Apalachicola River are always included in references to the Panhandle:

Some or all of the following counties east of the Apalachicola, in the Big Bend subregion, are sometimes considered part of the Panhandle:

Cities

Cities in the Panhandle include Tallahassee, Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City.

Beaches

The beach towns, many of which play host to college students during spring break, in the Panhandle are sometimes known by the informal moniker – the Redneck Riviera.[citation needed] The quartz sand on the beaches of the Panhandle is so white that some traders reportedly sold it as sugar in World War II.[10]

Military bases

Major military bases include the Naval Air Station at Pensacola (the home of Naval Aviation in the United States), Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, near Ft. Walton Beach, and Tyndall Air Force Base, near Panama City.

Minor divisions

The Panhandle can be divided into three major sections - East, Central and Western.

The Western Florida Panhandle is dominated by coastal development and military bases, to include Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, Whiting Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, and Tyndall Air Force Base. Significant towns include Pensacola, Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City.

The Central Florida Panhandle, stretching through Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties, has been marked by upscale developments in recent decades. These include Seaside, Sandestin, and countless others. In fact, development in the coastal area has become so commonplace that very little beachfront property remains untouched, unless it is under the stewardship of the Federal or State Government.

The Eastern Florida Panhandle is mostly defined by Tallahassee and its surrounding environs, including Wakulla County.

Major communities

References

Florida portal

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The Florida Panhandle is a region of Florida.

The Panhandle region highlighted on a map of Florida.
The Panhandle region highlighted on a map of Florida.
  • Emerald Coast - The Emerald Coast, also called the Miracle Strip, includes Bay, Okaloosa and Walton counties. The Pensacola area (Escambia and Santa Rosa counties) is also often included in this area.
  • Forgotten Coast - This region is comprised of Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, and Wakulla counties, some of the most rural of Florida's coastal counties.
  • West Florida - This is the only part of an east coast state to be in the Central time zone and consists of the ten counties west of the Apalachicola River (Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington}. This region was once part of the Spanish and British colonies of West Florida (which included parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana as far west as the Mississippi). Its capital was Pensacola.
  • Middle Florida - This is the region of North Florida between the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers. It was once the core of antebellum Florida's slave-based cotton plantation economy. Only the western half of the Middle Florida region is actually in the Panhandle. It includes the six easternmost counties of the Panhandle (Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla) as well as some counties in the western part of the North Florida region.

Understand

The Florida Panhandle has hung onto its Southern culture better than probably any other region in Florida, so expect traditional Southern hospitality and more conservative values.

An exception to this general trend is Tallahassee, which, while retaining a great deal of that Southern charm, also contains pockets of the progressive, creative atmosphere typical of college towns.

  • Pensacola Regional Airport - located in Pensacola and is the gateway to the western Florida Panhandle. Pensacola Regional has many flights on many carriers to destinations across the eastern United States and within the state of Florida.
  • Interstate 10 and its scenic byways slice across the Panhandle parallel to, but several miles inland from, the coast. I-10 follows the route of the older Highway 90. Closer to the coast, Highway 98 is the most important route. Like much of the US a car is really a requirement to see this area. There is local bus service in most cities, and biking is popular both for getting around town or for longer tours of the coast.
St. Marks Lighthouse
St. Marks Lighthouse
  • Marianna is home to Florida Caverns State Park.
  • Torreya State Park in Liberty County.
  • Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County.
  • Saint George Island State Park in Franklin County.
  • Wakulla Springs south of Tallahassee.
  • Florida Lighthouses are numerous and beautiful in the Panhandle, take some time to visit these iconic images of the coast.

Do

Spectator Sports

Tallahassee is home to the Seminoles of Florida State University, and college football is a religion for many Panhandle residents, with Saturdays in the fall being the holy day. Pensacola is home to the semi-professional ice hockey team, the Pensacola Ice Pilots.

Festivals/Holidays

Major holidays in Pensacola include Mardi Gras and the Fiesta of Five Flags. Celebrations of note in Pensacola are the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival, the Seafood Festival, the Bushwhacker Festival, the Bill Fishing Tournament, and the Gay and Lesbian Memorial Day Festival. Fort Walton Beach is known for the Billy Bowlegs Festival, and Panama City for Spring Break. Niceville is know for its Mullet Festival.

Eat

In the Panama City and Panama City Beach area there are many great places for local fare. The most recognized restaurant is Captain Anderson's on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach. It's located on the lagoon and get there early to see the fishing fleet arrive and unload the day's catch.

Other restaurants of note include Pompano's on Front Beach Road, Saltwater Grill on Middle Beach (Hutchison Road) and Canopies. Canopies is a "fine dining" establishment overlooking St. Andrew's Bay in Panama City.

Drink

The Panhandle is home to two of Florida's four dry counties, where the sale of alcohol is prohibited (Washington and Liberty). However, alcohol of any variety can be found in abundance in the college town of Tallahassee and the Spring Break destination of Panama City Beach.

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Simple English

The Florida Panhandle is the region of the state of Florida which includes the westernmost 16 counties in the state. It is a narrow strip lying between Alabama and Georgia to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Culturally and in terms of history and climate, the region is more closely tied to the Deep South than to peninsular Florida.[1]

Shortly after the Civil War, residents of Florida's peninsula considered ceding the state's entire western arm to Alabama for a million dollars. Alabama's leaders decided that the land was "a sand bank and gopher region," and, as a result, the Panhandle remained a part of Florida. The region is a major source of revenue for the state today.

Other pages

References

  1. Florida, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, 2004, pg. 20


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