Northeast Florida was "discovered" by Ponce de Leon in 1513. He and his Spanish crew landed about 25 miles from today's Jacksonville, and named it Pascua Florida as a reminder that his landing occurred during the Feast of Flowers. He claimed the territory for the Spanish crown, then sailed off in search of a magic potion of eternal youth rumored to be a hidden treasure of this new land.
The French arrived on Florida's east coast in 1562. Jean Ribault met the native Timuqua, exchanged gifts, and claimed possession in the name of the king of France by implanting a stone monument visible to subsequent ships.
A colony was established in 1564, only to be eliminated by Spanish forces from nearby St. Augustine in 1565. Florida's northeast coast was under Spanish control. The French did not attempt another colonization. Nothing remains of the original Fort de la Caroline. And St. Augustine, not Jacksonville, is now known as the nation's oldest city.
The Jacksonville Historical Society says that June 15, 1822, was the date on the petition sent by local settlers to the U.S. Secretary of State asking that Jacksonville be named a port of entry. That is the earliest known use of the name Jacksonville here. Jacksonville's first charter, creating a town government, was approved by the Florida Legislative Council on Feb. 9, 1832.
Lumber was a major business in Jacksonville prior to the Civil War. Tourism was big business in the 1880s. After the building of the jetties in the late 1890s, port business grew. Jacksonville was the first film center during the silent movie era. The development of military bases after World War II had a dramatic effect on the economy, as did the attraction of insurance and banking headquarters.
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