Jacksonville History

A city once named "Cowford," Jacksonville' s name is not the only thing that has changed significantly over the years. Spanning farther back than 2000 B.C., well into the unknown ages, the tribes of the Timucua people lived on a massive parcel of land which, over hundreds of years, evolved into Jacksonville, Florida. This part of Jacksonville history is paid tribute to through the naming of one of the largest, and most well-protected natural areas in northeastern Florida—Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve. This conservation area lies north of Kingsley Plantation and Jacksonville's renowned strip of beaches.

Initial explorers in the Jacksonville area were the French, who sailed swiftly into the St John's River in the mid-sixteenth century. The best way to see scenic parts of the river today is from popular Jacksonville Landing. Just north of Jacksonville's modern day downtown, the French established Fort Caroline, a stronghold taken by the Spanish in a bloody battle in 1565. No other battle in the history of Jacksonville was known to be as gruesome.

There are many unofficial facts about Jacksonville over the following three hundred years. Great Britain, France, and Spain waged wars on each other throughout this period, according to recorded historical facts about Jacksonville. One of the facts about Jacksonville that is also known about that period is both Amelia Island and Talbot Island were also discovered in the mid 1500s and were part of the battles between the three European nations. In 1821, Jacksonville became an official territory belonging to the United States. During this period of Jacksonville history, the city was still known as "Cowford."

The name Cowford pertained to a narrow area along the St John's River where cows were shipped across by ferry. Isaiah Hart, a prominent plantation owner, moved to the area with specific plans for establishing the city of Jacksonville. Around that time in the history of Jacksonville, General Andrew Jackson was the provisionary governor of the territory of Florida and it was after him that Jacksonville was named. Beginning as a very small town, the first electoral events were held in 1832 and Jacksonville inaugurated its very first major. Florida officially became a state in 1845 and fourteen years later it was documented as a city. Also a thriving sea port, major exports shipped from the shores near Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach.

Jacksonville history illustrates a period during the Civil War when the city was all but destroyed by Union Forces. Though not a part of the Confederacy, land was fiercely fought over and the Union Army did occupy Jacksonville in four separate events. At this time of strife and destruction in the history of Jacksonville, residents made a surprisingly quick recovery, rebuilding the city as fast as they were able.

After the mid-nineteenth century, with a population of not more than 8,000, Jacksonville began attracting annual tourists in record numbers. This jolt in tourism resulted in massive growth and prosperity, one of the most significant facts about Jacksonville and its strong founding roots. During the late 1800s on the Jacksonville history timeline, shipping and lumber industries were developing. As the railroads were built, so were scores of new beach communities. Beach hotels, luxury hotels, and large resorts followed suit.

In the early 1900s Jacksonville became a hub for the film industry, attracting movie makers with a warm climate and low costs of housing and labor. Industrial diversity was the focus during the 1960s and 1970s. This period in the history of Jacksonville also saw great development throughout downtown, which now includes the Riverwalk, innumerable dining and shopping options, and a wealth of Jacksonville hotels. Awarded the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise in 1993, Jacksonville drew thousands more people to the area. Jacksonville has only continued to boom since then, offering Florida vacations packed with great nightlife, exciting attractions, and many things to do all throughout the city and beaches.

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