Florida’s earliest inhabtants had no way of foreseeing how culturally rich the area
would one day become. The settlements of the first Native Americans, followed by the
arrival of the Spanish, French, and English in the 16th century and later of people from
other parts of Europe, the United States, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, created the
cultural mosiac so evident in Florida today.
Northeast Florida was first inhabited by Timucuan Indians, who lived along the
region’s creeks and waterways. The Spanish arrived in 1513, led by Juan Ponce de Leon,
who named the area La Florida.
In 1564, the french built Fort Caroline in what is now Jacksonville, establishing the
first Protestant colony in America. But the spanish soon vanquished the French foothold
and built a settlement in nearby St. Augustine in 1565.
These are just a few of the Florida firsts recounted at Jacksonville’s Museum of
Science and History. The newest exhibit, “Currents of Time: A History of Jacksonville
and Northeast Florida,” explores the cultural makeup of the region through artifacts,
period furnishings and costumes, architectural facades, and rare photographs and
Tallahassee was chosen to serve as Floridas capital by the United States in the early
1800s to replace St. Augustine and Pensacola, which served as dual capitals during the 20
years that britain ruled Florida.
Tallahassee’s Museum of Florida History features exhibits ranging from prehistoric
Florida through recent history. Permanent exhibits include a nine-foot mastodon, Spanish
galleon treasures, Civil War memorabila, and a reconstructed stearboat.
In Daytona Beach, the Halifax Historical Museum features Native American and
Spanish artifacts found at nearby plantations. Latterday history is not overlooked:
memorabilia from the early days of baech automobile racing, a tradition that dates back
nearly 100 years, is also on view.