Florida: The Sunshine State’s Hidden Histories

  • French Fort Caroline: Before the Spanish established St. Augustine, the French built Fort Caroline in 1564 near present-day Jacksonville. This was one of the first attempts by the French to colonize the southeastern United States.
  • The Great Freeze of 1894-1895: This devastating freeze wiped out much of Florida’s citrus industry, leading many growers to move their operations further south. It significantly impacted the state’s economy and agricultural landscape.
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  • The Pensacola Navy Yard: Established in 1826, the Pensacola Navy Yard was one of the earliest naval shipyards in the United States. It played a crucial role in naval operations during the Civil War and later became the first U.S. Naval Air Station site.
  • The First Scheduled Airline Flight: In 1914, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line operated the world’s first scheduled commercial airline flight. This pioneering flight marked the beginning of the commercial aviation industry.
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  • Rosewood Massacre: In 1923, the small town of Rosewood in Levy County was destroyed during a racially motivated massacre. The tragedy remained largely unknown until the 1990s, when survivors and descendants brought it to public attention, leading to reparations from the state of Florida.