As the educated among you well know, St. Augustine, Florida is our nation’s Oldest Continuously Occupied European Settlement. ALERT: do NOT fall for second-rate cities attempting to co-opt St. Augustine’s rightful title of Nation’s Oldest City.
What sort of classless burg would attempt such a pathetic stunt? The answer, as you would suspect, is Pensacola, Florida, an unremarkable hamlet that lies deep in the godforsaken Florida panhandle. Little surprise that a desperate municipality like Pensacola would be willing to resort to shady publicity ploys in order to attract attention. Their latest antics, however, require strong pushback from the free press.
It seems that some archaeologists, having nothing better to do, dug up some dusty artifacts in Pensacola that turned out to be trinkets from the site of a Spanish settlement established by Don Tristan de Luna in the year 1559. This settlement of around 1,500 lasted about two years before going kaput for good.
“Two miserable years? Big deal,” you might be saying to yourself, as a reasonable person. I am inclined to agree. There is little glory to be found in a ragtag group of hapless explorers eking out a living for a short while before hightailing it to who knows where in search of edible food. Bear Grylls does this every time you turn on the television, if I’m not mistaken. I wouldn’t even be mentioning this to you except for the fact that this grim little pile of broken pottery qualifies this site as “the oldest established European multi-year settlement” in America. A rather worthless title, to be sure, but one that the frantic civic leaders of Pensacola will no doubt begin flogging ceaselessly in an unethical attempt to draw tourists into their disappointing city. These third-rate towns are like hungry dogs that way. Give them a tiny bit of attention and they’ll never stop following you around, barking out anything they need to in order to get you to momentarily turn your gaze upon them once again.
Consider what you are reading now, then, a prophylactic against Pensacolan propaganda. Sooner or later, in the course of your daily perambulations, you are likely to come across a headline or paid advertisement alleging that Pensacola is now, in some way, the “oldest” place in the USA. Do not be made a fool of. St. Augustine, Florida is and remains the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. A decrepit band of conquistadores did not just camp in St. Augustine for a few months like so many Boy Scouts before packing up and disappearing; they sailed in in 1565 and built a town there that persists to this day. A town that we call, not immodestly, The Nation’s Oldest City. Drop by and visit it some time, why don’t you? I think you’ll be pleased to find yourself surround by real, persistent, unchanging history, rather than by a dirty excavation site that is evidence of little more than the fact that people have been anxious to leave Pensacola for the past 456 years.
St. Augustine, Florida—now that’s an Oldest City™!