Historic Markers Across Florida

History in St. Augustine Beach

Marker ID:  
Location: On the east side of A1A Beach Blvd, St Augustine, FL
County: St. Johns
Coordinates: N 29° 51.424    W 081° 15.969
  29.85706666    -81.26615
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WMKBDF


In 1562, the French explorer Rene Gouaine de Laudonniere was the first to arrive in Florida and successfully establish a colony. This colony was on the St. Johns River near present-day Jacksonville and christened Fort Caroline. Laudonniere's ships landed along the shores of what is now St. Augustine Beach and were met by a number of Native Americans who received then with kindness. The French named the St. Augustine inlet Fluven Delfinini (River of Dolphins), because of the great number of dolphins swimming there. In 1565, when Pedro Menendez de Aviles arrived, his sights set on creating a Spanish settlement, the French settlers were defeated. Menendez established the first permanent European settlement in what is now the United States.

Until the mid 18th century, the St. Augustine Beach area was used as pasture land for cattle and quarries for coquina. In 1730, a businessman from New York by the name of Jessie Fish claimed the coastal land south of the lighthouse and established the local citrus industry. The Fish family cultivated this land through 1730 to 1820's.

In the 1880's, St. Augustine Beach was called South Beach. The transportation from St. Augustine was provided via the South Beach Railroad. This train brought tourists to see the alligator farm, quarries, lighthouse and to relax along the beaches. In 1920, the first hotels in St. Augustine Beach brought tourists who enjoyed this pastoral escape from formal St. Augustine. There were no paved roads. The only way to travel was over the dunes or to drive on the beach.
The history of St. Augustine Beach is closely tied to the history of early exploration in North America. The settlements of the French, British and Spanish explorers in this area played an important role in the rich history of Florida and the United States.

Scenic & Historic A1A Coastal Byway-Source: St. Augustine Historical Society