St. Augustine: Spanish Settlement

St. Augustine was founded in 1565, 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown and 55 years before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Spanish explorer Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles established this presidio against British expansion from the north. The city is the oldest, continuously-occupied European settlement in the continental United States. The Spanish built Castillo de San Marcos, 1672-1695, which served as an outpost of the Spanish Empire and to protect the sea route for Spanish ships. During the 18th century, the Castillo went from Spanish control to British and back to the Spanish, until the area was purchased by the United States in 1821. This fortified settlement (with city  gates) had 5,000 people of which 530 were soldiers who needed to be skilled workers to survive on this frontier. Spanish introduced cattle ranching, citrus, and pigs


 
The iron-grid street pattern of Spanish settlements is evident in St. Augustine but only a few restored buildings represent the cultural landscape of a Spanish town, such as Oaxaca, Mexico. In the 1740s one quarter of the houses were wooden -- poor construction, blew down in storms, but cheaper to build than using tabby (sea shells mixed with lime). Cooking was done outside -- this was a poor, marginal settlement. House were built right up to the street and were enclosed with walls with a large gate for livestock and carts.  

Created by Ingolf Vogeler on 1 May 2003; last revised on 15 May 2003.