The first European settlement in North America was established on a bluff overlooking the St. John's River, 12 miles east of what is now downtown Jacksonville, half a century before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.
On May 1, 1562, French Huguenots, Followers of the Protestant reformer, John Calvin, started the short-lived colony named Fort Caroline, while America's oldest permanent settlement, St. Augustine, was still a military encampment situated 35 miles to the south. Three years later, however, the Spanish founder of St. Augustine destroyed the French colony, and for the next 250 years, France, Spain and Great Britain fought one another and the Timucua Indians for control of the peninsula.
During the British ownership of Florida, a particular river crossing on the St. John's, used for taking cattle to grazing land, was known as "Cowford". It was at this point, near where Bay and Liberty streets intersect today in downtown Jacksonville, that farms and plantations were first settled. Not long after the Spanish ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, Issiah D. Hart founded a town at Cowford and named it Jacksonville, in honor of Andrew Jackson, the new territory's provisional governor.
After Jackson became President, he made the city a port of entry in 1831. Jacksonville survived the Civil War with only one major battle, The Battle of Olustee, fought nearby, and it prospered until 1888, when a yellow fever epidemic killed hundreds and forced thousands to flee for their lives. As the city recovered, tragedy struck again on May 3, 1901, when the Great Jacksonville Fire destroyed practically all of the downtown area. The resilient spirit of the coummnuity persisted, and the rebuilt Jacksonville was the leading city of Florida for more than 40 years.
Shipbuilding flourished in Jacksonville, and by the end of World War II, there were three Naval stations in Duval County. In the years since the war ended, Jacksonville has become a mojor banking,insurance and healthcare center in Florida.
In 1968, Jacksonville consolidated its' city and county governments becoming the largest city in the world in terms of square mileage. With consolidation, Jacksonville began a new era in its' history. Public services were expanded, property taxes were reduced and a clean up of the St. John 's River was completed. By 1994, Jacksonville's population rose above 1,000,000.
Jacksonville is in the midst of economic and cltural growth complimented by increased coummunity involvement. The city's average of 320 days of sunshine each year and an anticipated future development have prompted an influx of people from all over the world to come to Jacksonville. It is a clean and beautiful city with job opportunities, culture, sports and close to the beach. Jacksonville is very proud of their NFL football team, the "Jaguars", and very happy to host the Super Bowl in 2005.