Our Nation's Oldest City: St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine is a city located on the northeast coast of Florida. It is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. The city was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Earlier settlements in the area failed. This was due mostly to famine and hurricanes. The first child of European parents born in the continental United States was born here in 1566.

St. Augustine was attacked and burned by British explorer Sir Francis Drake twenty years later. The Spanish residents of St. Augustine built the Castillo de San Marcos. It was a masonry-walled military fort. The walls were made of sedimentary rock called coquina, which was made of ancient shells bonded together. The fort was designed to protect the city from invaders. It was completed in 1695 after 23 years of construction.

The British attacked the fort in 1702. They attacked again in 1704, but the Spanish survived. The British finally gained control of St. Augustine in 1763. Florida was returned to Spain in 1783 in the Treaty of Paris. That was the end of the Revolutionary War. Spain gave Florida to America in 1821. In return, America gave up claim to other lands in the West.

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