About the Pensacola, Florida Area
Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna arrived in Pensacola on August 15, 1559 with a contingent of more than 1,500 soldiers, servants, settlers, priests and Mexican Indians. Shortly after establishing the settlement, a hurricane destroyed supplies, eventually causing the Spanish to flee the area and not return until the late 1600s. In 1698, Presidio Santa María de Galve became the first permanent settlement in Northwest Florida. Remains of the fort can be found at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The city is proud of its rich heritage, historically significant events and landmarks.
• Having been ruled by Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy and the United States, Pensacola has earned the nickname City of Five Flags.
• Old Christ Church in Historic Pensacola Village is the oldest church in Florida still on its original site.
• Emmanuel Point II is the second-oldest ship wreck in the country. Discovered in 2007 by University of West Florida archaeology students, the ship belonged to Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna’s expedition, dating back to 1559.
• St. Michael’s Cemetery is one of the oldest extant cemeteries in the state of Florida, with burials dated back to the late 1700s.
• Pensacola was the original capital of Florida, and it was here that Gov. Andrew Jackson changed flags with Spanish Governor Jose Callava, bringing West Florida under the control of the United States.
• The first Catholic Mass in the United States was held on Pensacola Beach shortly after the sailors arrived in August 1559.
Our beaches are the perfect metaphor for Pensacola – everything is more than meets the eye. Standing on Florida’s whitest sand beaches, you’re standing on quartz sand that was on the Appalachian Mountains thousands of years ago before it was washed by mountain rivers to the Pensacola coast.
The names of our streets are a mixture of Spanish and English, attesting to our city’s special place in American history. Parade grounds for Spanish forts became English gardens and are now special public places.
Southern sensibilities merge with various cultural influences to produce a sophisticated downtown, a place where innovation and beach cultures co-exist, and where water and whimsy blend to produce the area’s unique personality.
In other words, Pensacola is a deep dive. That’s why it attracts people in search of adventure and self-discovery, whether it’s at the more than 400 underwater shipwrecks, including the world’s largest manmade reef, at archaeological digs of America’s first European settlements, at the meticulous precision of Blue Angel maneuvers, and in an array of water sports.
In truth, the people of Pensacola often define themselves by their relationships with water – whether it is gulf, bay, or river – and the outdoors – championship golf courses, tennis facilities, fishing, horseback riding, boating, hiking, and biking.
But there’s even more. The abundance and quality of culture, arts, museums, sports, and concerts in Pensacola exceed what you find in much larger cities. There’s our symphony, opera, theater, and ballet, not to mention our art and historic museums. There are our sports teams in hockey and baseball, and there are the headlining national acts that regularly appear at our state-of-the-art civic center.
From our days as the first settlement in the U.S. in 1559, Pensacola has been multi-cultural. That tradition is reflected today in Spanish-era architecture in the Seville Square Historic District, the Colonial English village of Historic Pensacola Village including Florida’s oldest church, and a lively downtown known for its shops and restaurants. There’s a reason that Pensacola has been called the only “real downtown” along the beach of the Gulf Coast.
In downtown, Pensacola is building a spectacular 30-acre, $70 million Maritime Park on the waterfront, and it will feature a 3,500-seat multi-purpose stadium, a conference center, a marine museum, offices, restaurants, and plenty of green space where you can do nothing but bask in the breeze and soak up the sound of the water.
The best way to learn about Pensacola is to experience it, but don’t take our word for it.
Here’s other proof:
• “Best Cities To Live” – CNN/Money Magazine, 2007
• “Boomtown” – Inc. Magazine, 2007
• “Best Southeastern College,” University of West Florida – Princeton Review
Pensacola is casual but its attitude is ambitious, offering opportunities for each person to create rituals that reinvent, refresh, and renew. Best of all, the constant juxtaposition in our city inspires our special sense of place and gives each of us the chance to customize our own lives.