Florida Turns 500 Years Old!

Filed under: Florida News,Vacation Tips |

Five hundred years ago this week, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed on a pristine beach somewhere on the east coast of the Florida Peninsula.

The folks in St. Augustine like to believe it happened there but there’s also a strong claim from those who believe that Melbourne was the actual place the Spaniard landed. No one knows exactly where the adventurer and his crew landed, but their last reported navigational fix was taken at noon on April 2, 1513, offshore at 30 degrees, eight minutes north.

Florida was a simple place back in 1513 and the only residents were Native Americans. Legend has it that de Leon was on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth but history tends to suggest he was hunting for undiscovered islands to claim. The explorer made his claim of the shoreline for Spain and, since it was Easter (Pascua Florida in Spanish), he named it La Florida.

Half a century later, another Spanish explorer came and this time he stayed. In 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés founded the settlement of St Augustine, now the “oldest permanently occupied European settlement in North America”.

In 1845, Florida was admitted to the union as the 27th US state and since then it’s made steady progress in being called the “Sunshine State of America.”

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