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DUVAL COUNTY In 1564, the French Huguenots established a settlement at the


site of Fort Caroline. However, raids by nearby Spanish settlers destroyed the ill-fated colony. The Spanish were the first to settle the Jacksonville Beach area, establishing missions from Mayport to St. Augustine. Over time, the region saw a struggle of control by European powers, a developing United States and Native Americans. Before the Spanish decided to cede the territory in 1821 to the United States, Jacksonville was known as Cowford. In the late 1700s, the British built the King’s Trail (now U.S. 1), a route that connected St. Augustine to Georgia. The settlement now known as Jacksonville was the narrowest place along the trail to ford livestock across the St. Johns River, thereby earning the region the Cowford name. In honor of Andrew Jackson's service as Florida territory’s military governor, Cowford was renamed Jacksonville and officially incorporated in 1932.


After a period of accelerated post-war reconstruction,


Jacksonville became a popular winter destination for the wealthy. Marketed as the "Winter City in a Summer Land," grand hotels surrounded Hemming Park in Downtown as well as resorts at the beach. However, yellow fever outbreaks in the late 1800s and Henry Flagler’s ever-expanding railroad caused a decline in tourism. Jacksonville’s main commodities then became lumber, turpentine, cigars and citrus. On May 3, 1901, Jacksonville was devastated by the third largest metropolitan fire in the nation. The "Great Fire of 1901" destroyed 2,368 buildings in the downtown area and left over 10,000 people homeless; miraculously, only seven died. Despite this monumental loss, the aftermath led to a major reconstruction and architectural renaissance. More than 13,000 buildings were constructed between 1901 and 1912 with


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innovations such as the elevator and escalator making their Southern debut. While Jacksonville was transitioning, the beaches area was changing as well. The completion of Atlantic Boulevard, in 1910, connected the beaches with south Jacksonville, creating a residential boom. Pablo Beach, which was incorporated in 1907, witnessed the start of the boardwalk era in 1915. Businessman Martin Williams Sr. built dance pavilions, restaurants and other forms of entertainment on the boardwalk. With the community seeing prosperous growth, Pablo Beach was renamed Jacksonville Beach in 1925 and the town of Atlantic Beach was incorporated in 1926. Residents of a sparsely populated section of Jacksonville Beach voted to secede from the city due to an inadequate return of services for their taxes. As a result, on Aug. 11, 1931, the community of Neptune Beach became its own municipality.


Prior to 1940, the U.S. Navy had a minor presence protecting


the ports in and around Jacksonville. After the Great Depression, however, the Navy began its tenure as a primary employer and economic force in the region. Seven decades later, thousands of Navy personnel and their families still call the First Coast home, with three major bases now in the area. Jacksonville and Duval County governments consolidated in 1968, although Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Baldwin remained separate municipalities. The move made Jacksonville the largest city by land area in the continental United States. Today, the city’s stable economy continues to be supported by its naval facilities, health care centers, manufacturing and the growing financial services sector.


First Coast Relocation GuideTM


2013


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