Viva Florida 1513-2013: Get Involved for Florida's 500th Anniversary Commemoration

Five hundred years ago Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed on our peninsula’s eastern shore and christened it “La Florida.” This historic event led to an exchange between old and new worlds, centuries of conflicts and colonizing, and, ultimately, our American cultural melting pot. To help commemorate Florida’s 500th anniversary, the Florida Humanities Council is sponsoring these numerous programs, events, and resources.

Mapping our Past


Put this on your must-see list! The Tampa Bay History Center is featuring Florida's history as told through maps, an exciting exhibit running through Feb. 16.  And for a related Newspaper in Education supplement, which we helped fund, visit.

Dreamers & Schemers


History will come alive on stage in 2013 during our statewide roadshow, “Dreamers & Schemers: An Evening with Great Floridians.” Historical figures will describe their hopes for Florida—and for themselves. Show times and places.

Autographed posters available


We have a limited number of “Viva Florida” posters signed by acclaimed Florida artist Christopher Still. This official, autographed poster, commemorating Florida’s 500th anniversary, is $25 in our online store.

Read All about It!

Delve into our “Viva Florida” FORUM to learn about the stories (and myths) of Spanish Florida. Read “The View from the Shore” to get a glimpse of the ancient cultures that were here first.  Order your copies here.

Florida's Early Railroads
 

Secretary of State Ken Detzner discusses how railroads played a major role in shaping the future of our state before the advent of highways.

Click for more.

 

We're Teaching Florida


Check out our fascinating new website, TeachingFlorida.org, designed for Florida teachers and anyone else interested in knowing more about Florida history and culture.

Florida on the Move

Author Steve Noll traces the history of Florida through planes, trains & automobiles (and steamboats, too!).  Bring him and other presenters from our Speakers Bureau to engage your community in Florida’s 500th anniversary commemoration. 

Explore Florida's Spanish Flavor!

Buen Provecho is a one-hour public television documentary that traces the Hispanic influence on Florida's cuisine. The documentary will premiere Sunday, June 30 at 7pm on WPBT2. Produced by WPBT2 with a Florida Humanities Council Grant. More details

The World of Florida’s Spanish Colonial Past Poster

We created a colorful poster, which chronicles Spanish colonial history in Florida, for use by teachers in the classroom.

Download a FREE PDF version:
English, click here.
Spanish, click here.

More for you

  • What you can do. Download
  • Learn more. Download
  • Visit the state's Viva Florida website.
  • Spanish-Florida Timeline. Download
  • Watch videos of “Florida at the Crossroads: 500 Years of Encounters, Conflicts, and Exchanges.”
  • Read this ebooklet about first encounters of the Old and New worlds.

Florida History Moments

David Levy Yulee

by Secretary of State Ken Detzner

Among Florida’s many remarkable pioneers, David Levy Yulee – entrepreneur and legislator – is one of the most intriguing.

David Levy Yulee

Henry B. Plant

by Secretary of State Ken Detzner

Henry Flagler opened Florida’s Atlantic coast with a railroad line. Who did the same for the Gulf coast?

Henry B. Plant

Henry Flagler

by Secretary of State Ken Detzner

Magnate Henry Flagler spurred Florida development with a railroad plunging south from Jacksonville. It eventually reached Key West.

Henry Flagler

Florida's Cracker Cattle

by Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Florida’s tough Cracker cow came from Spanish explorers and colonists, who brought the first cattle in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Florida's Cracker Cattle

Florida's Wild Hogs

by Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Florida’s half-million wild hogs aren’t native; Hernando de Soto imported them from Europe.

Florida's Wild Hogs

Florida's Historic Naval
Stores Industry

by Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

In the early 1900s, Florida led the world in the production of naval stores – products derived from pine resin.

Florida's Historic Naval Stores Industry

Florida's Citrus
Industry Begins

by Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

In 1565, Spanish explorers and colonists planted orange trees at St. Augustine – Florida’s first citrus grove.

Florida's Citrus Industry Begins

Florida's Nursery and Horticulture Industry

by Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Named for its floral beauty, Florida for centuries has had a reputation for lush and abundant plant life.

Florida's Nursery and Horticulture Industry