America’s Oldest City Is Celebrating Its 450th Birthday

Kirstin Fawcett
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America’s first permanent settlement wasn’t in Roanoke or Jamestown—it was in St. Augustine, Fla. To honor its historic roots, St. Augustine is throwing a multi-day birthday bash this weekend that celebrates 450 years of existence.

Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles founded the city in 1565 and named it after St. Augustine, the patron saint of brewers. According to Smithsonian, Menendez hoped to link the Atlantic seaboard with the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, and Mexico. But although the city never become a full-fledged commercial empire, it did serve as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years.

Today, tourists flock to St. Augustine to stroll the scenic grounds of Flagler College and visit the park where Ponce de León is said to have discovered the Fountain of Youth. This week, they can also enjoy free concerts, a historical reenactment of Menendez’s landing, and a time capsule project that will be opened on the city’s 500th birthday.

With attractions like 17th-century Spanish forts and the oldest public plaza in the United States, St. Augustine is every bit as historic as Jamestown—but with better weather. Hopefully, their landmark 450th birthday will convince colonial buffs to take their next vacation down South.

[h/t Smithsonian]