Florida History Moment Commemorating 500 Years of Spain-Florida History

Florida’s 500-year relationship with Spain began in 1513 when explorer Juan Ponce DeLeón first set foot on Florida soil. Listen to or download our 2-minute audio programs commemorating this shared history.

America's First Thanksgiving

Historian Michael Gannon, University of Florida, describes our nation’s first Thanksgiving – in St. Augustine on September 8, 1565.

 

Florida's First Public School

Historian James Cusick, University of Florida, describes Florida’s first public school, founded in St. Augustine in 1786.

 

Ponce de Leon: Myth and Fact

Historian Michael Gannon, University of Florida, explores the myth and reality of Juan de Ponce de Leon's journey to La Florida.

 

Two English Pirates

Historian Michael Gannon, University of Florida, talks about St. Augustine's early days, English pirates twice plundered the Spanish settlement.

 

Shipwreck

James Cusick, University of Florida. Cast ashore after a shipwreck, an English crew, passengers, and slaves trudged 230 miles north to St. Augustine. One wrote a book, sometimes considered America's first adventure story.

 

Spanish Architecture in Florida

Historian Gary Mornino, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. Why did architects create fantastical “Med Rev” palaces and stylized Spanish structures in 1920s Florida?

 

Mission San Francisco

Historian Michael Gannon, University of Florida. Spanish friars built the nation’s first Indian missions in Florida—200 years before establishing missions in California.

 

de la Torre's Library

James Cusick, University of Florida. While most 18th-century people in colonial Florida were illiterate, many in the middle class could read and write in several languages!

 

Floridians Take Sides in the Spanish Civil War

Historian Gary Mornino, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. How did Tampa’s Spanish community help during the bloody Spanish Civil War in 1936?

 

The Yamassee War

Bonnie McEwan, Director of Archaeology, Mission San Luis Tallahassee. A tale of betrayal—when the British double-crossed the Indians who had helped destroy Florida’s Spanish missions.

 

St. Augustine Is the Story of America

Dana Ste. Claire is Director of Heritage Tourism and Historic Preservation of the City of St. Augustine. Hear why St. Augustine, our nation’s first permanent European settlement, is a living classroom of American history.

 

Moving the City

Susan Parker, Spanish Colonial Historian. Why did colonists move the town of St. Augustine to an island in 1566—and then move it back?

 
Jose Marti and the Spanish-American War

Below learn about fiery Cuban revolutionary, the doomed Jose Marti, and his connections to Tampa and Key West.

 
Literacy

Below learn about “magical” European writing – and how Indians learned to write in their language, Spanish, and Latin.

 
Francisco Menendez, free black militia captain

Below hear about an incredible character that emerged from Spanish Florida – intrepid Francisco Menendez, free black militia captain.

 
Five Decades of Failure

Below learn about decades of failure before one courageous explorer managed to found a colony in hostile Florida.


Flip That Governor’s Mansion

Below hear, and maybe laugh, about one of the first real estate speculators – an early governor of Florida!


The Minorcans

Below learn about the first civil rights success when in 1777, Greeks, Italians, and Minorcans marched for freedom.


La Florida – what’s in a name?

Below learn the origins of the mythologized name La Florida – and why it wasn’t about the lush landscape.

 
Florida’s Powerful Apalachees

Bonnie McEwan, director of Mission San Luis, describes the real wealth of the Apalachee Indians in the 16th century.

 
Ybor City’s Vibrant Culture

Historian Gary Mormino describes the vibrant Latin culture created by Spaniards, Cubans and, later, Italians, in Ybor City, founded in 1886.

 
Indians and Spanish missions

Some Florida Indians actually invited Spanish missionaries to live among them, says Bonnie McEwan, executive director of Tallahassee’s Mission San Luis.

 

Florida’s formidable seashell castle

Historian Michael Gannon tells how the 16-foot-thick shell-rock walls of St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos held up to cannon bombardment in the 1700s.

 

View from the Water

Archaeologist Darcie McMahon tells how Calusa Indians’ alacrity with seagoing canoes impressed ocean-conquering Spanish explorers.

 

Spain’s territory once bigger than Europe

Historian Michael Gannon describes the Spanish Borderlands that stretched along the southern part of our continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with Florida as its first occupant.

 

History Underfoot: Spanish St. Augustine

Archaeologist Darcie MacMahon describes peeling back layers of history to view the remains of an ancient Spanish colonial center underneath present-day St. Augustine.

 

Abundant seafood in 1500s Florida

Historian Susan Parker describes a Spanish priest’s 1595 report of harvesting clams as big as his fists off the coast of St. Augustine.


Florida’s First Art?

Archaeologist Darcie MacMahon describes the painted wooden masks, animal figurines, and other art left behind by Florida’s first people.

 

St. Augustine: The First America

Historical writer Dana Ste. Claire notes that Plymouth’s pilgrims were latecomers when compared to St. Augustine’s Spanish settlers.