Fourteen thousand years ago, Florida would have made an ideal location for the show Land of the Lost — that is, if there were actually dinosaurs down here. Not so much. During the age of dinosaurs, the Florida peninsula was underwater and did not exist as a land mass. Therefore, no dinosaur remains were ever deposited in Florida.
in 1998, archaeologists discovered a slew of artifacts in downtown Miami in an area now known as The Miami Circle. With origins dating back at least 2,000 years, it was discovered that the artifacts belonged to the Calusa or Tequesta tribes.
Once Ponce de León laid his eyes on Florida in 1513, a slew of competitive Conquistadors made futile efforts to find gold there and colonize the region. The first to establish a fort in Florida were the French, actually, but it was ultimately destroyed by the Spanish, who introduced, horses, and cattle to the region.
The Brits weren’t interested in gold — they were all about Florida’s bounty of hides and furs and they’d stop at nothing to get them. After taking control in 1763, the Brits divided Florida into two. Because Florida was subsidized by the English, Floridians remained loyal to Mother England during the American Revolution — that is, until the Spanish returned and regained West Florida in 1781 and, 2 years later, East Florida.
Florida became an organized territory of the United States on March 30, 1822. The Americans merged East Florida and West Florida (although the majority of West Florida was annexed to Orleans Territory and Mississippi Territory), and established a new capital in Tallahassee, conveniently located halfway between the East Florida capital of St. Augustine and the West Florida capital of Pensacola. The boundaries of Florida’s first two counties, Escambia and St. Johns, approximately coincided with the boundaries of West and East Florida, respectively.
It wasn’t long after Florida became the 27th state in the union (in 1845) that Miami began to emerge as a city — or somewhat one. During the war, the U.S. created Fort Dallas on the north bank of a river that flowed through southern Florida. When the soldiers left, the fort became the base for a small village established by William H. English, who dubbed it Miami, from the Indian word Mayami, meaning “big water.”
Fort Lauderdale is named after a series of forts built by the United States during the Second Seminole War. However, development of the city did not begin until 50 years after the forts were abandoned at the end of the conflict.
Palm Beach County was created in 1909. It was named for its first settled community, Palm Beach, in turn named for the palm trees and beaches in the area. The county was carved out of what was then the northern half of Dade County. The southern half of Palm Beach County was subsequently carved out to create the northern portion of Broward County in 1915. Henry Flagler was instrumental in the county’s development in the early 1900s with the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway through the county from Jacksonville to Key West. After Flagler came Addison Mizner, an architect with a flair for Mediterranean styles.
The name “Treasure Coast” is derived from a number of Spanish galleons (especially those of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet) that wrecked off the coast during the 17th and 18th centuries. Artifacts from these ships are still being recovered today, by both amateur and professional treasure-hunters.
For 2 centuries, Spain sent fleets twice a year to collect treasure from her New World colonies. In 1715, 11 Spanish ships crashed into the treacherous reefs off the Florida coast. The survivors swam to the beaches but the violent winds sucked many back into the water. Daybreak found more than 700 men missing, with wreckage and bodies scattered across 30 miles.
The senior surviving officer ordered a damaged lifeboat repaired, and then sent the chaplain and a young pilot for help. Three days later they landed 120 miles to the north.
The Spanish attempted to salvage the treasure for the next 4 years; however, the hazards of sharks, barracudas, buccaneers, and Indians led them to abandon the operation. Records indicate that only 30 percent of the treasure was recovered; the rest lay buried in the sands of the Treasure Coast.