Jacksonville History

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Are you looking for a brief history of Jacksonville, Florida? If so, then you've come to the right place. Keep reading to learn some, but certainly not all, of the history of this city sitting on the Atlantic coast of the Sunshine State. 

The population center now known as Jacksonville was inhabited by local Native American tribes for thousands of years prior to European colonization and settlement. That started in the late 18th century, as British colonists settled a place they called Cow Ford. 

The first major burst of development happened towards the end of the 19th century, as the location started becoming a tourist destination for winter vacations for those living in the Midwest and the North. 

That initial development ran into trouble for many decades in the early and mid 20th century, as things were slowed or halted by a combination of the Great Fire of 1901, followed by the Florida Land Bust in the 1920s, and the general economic woes in the 1960s and 1970s. 

However, since the later stages of the 20th century, the city has enjoyed continual growth. As a reflection of the city's growing stature, a new federal building was built in the downtown area in 2003.

Jacksonville has been one of the major domestic ports for the United States Navy, going all the way back to 1940. 

Nowadays, the city is a bustling area that more than a million call home. The region has a consolidated government structure blending the county and city in one entity. At the time of writing, Jacksonville held the top spots for both the biggest municipal population of any city in Florida as well as having more land area than any particular city across the Lower 48 states.

Pottery around the area has been scientifically dated back as far as 2500 BC. That's almost as old as anything found in the United States, second only to artifacts that have been found in the area of the Savannah River. 

The period or historical records started in the 1500s. Documents show that the area was occupied by a tribe known as the Mocama, which was a coastal subgroup of indigenous people more broadly known as the Timucua. 

When Europeans made contact with them, many of the Mocama villages in what is now known as Jacksonville were cumulatively part of a locally powerful chiefdom called the Saturiwa. This was largely centered near the mouth of the flowing St. Johns River, particularly on Fort George Island.

The Spanish were the first Europeans to come to the area, as explorers and missionaries arrived. 

French colonists arrived decades later trying to find safety from religious persecution, and the Spanish and French wound up fighting over the area multiple times, until the French and Indian Wars. The conclusion of that conflict had the Spanish cede the area over to the British.

The British wound up giving control of Florida back to Spain in the year of 1783, and American settlers started flooding into the region illegally. Spain sold the territory of Florida to the United States in 1821. Jacksonville was named in honor of General Andrew Jackson the following year. He was a military governor over the Florida Territory before going on to be the President of the United States.

The city and port of Jacksonville exchanged hands between the Union and Confederate forces several times during the Civil War. 

The next time the city played a critical military role would be in the ramp up to World War II and during it, as it became a major naval station. At one point, nearly half the residents of the city were either stationed there, worked there, or were related to someone who did. 

This eventually led to the Jacksonville International Airport being constructed and opened in 1968. 

The city also has a century of history as serving as a production spot where movies have been filmed.

Now that you have read this article, you know a brief version of the history of the Florida city of Jacksonville. Use this knowledge as a starting point to learn more, conversational material to impress locals if you visit, something to help you find historical points of interest to go to, or just help you appreciate the story behind the place that you live.