Historic St. Augustine- America’s oldest City

Click here to view my full Historic St. Augustine Album on Flick
St. Augustine is America’s oldest City and not surprising has a ton of interesting History. It was founded in 1565 by the Spanish and served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years.  Eventually Florida was ceded to the US in 1819. After much stagnation, the City experienced a late 19th century renaissance when  Henry Flagler, a co-founder with John D. Rockefeller of the Standard Oil Company, spent the winter of 1883 in St. Augustine and found the city charming. He dedicated much effort to modernizing the City’s hotels and transportation systems to make St. Augustine a winter resort for wealthy Americans. This lead to the construction of two ornate hotels, many churches, and the incredible Flagler College. After a post WWII period of decline, the City doubled done on its historic architecture and preserved much of its architecture helping to create Historic St. Augustine as a major tourist destination.

Historic St. Augustine (especially between Cordova and the Matanzas River) is highly walkable lined with cute shops and lots of restaurants, bars, and historic sites. The City converted St. George St. into a pedestrian only way and invested heavily in public space including its waterfront and Plaza de la Constitution. What is still missing from an urban perspective is more neighborhoods serving retail (i.e. supermarket & large retail), bike infrastructure, quality public transit, and affordable housing. There is still room for modern in-fill along the northern edge and western half of St. George Street, which still hosts a fair amount of surface parking and auto centric uses.

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* While transit and bike infrastructure is poor, this is still a highly walkable neighborhood.
* Good economic and generational diversity.
* Park amenities include a modest but attractive waterfront, a great historic Spanish plaza (Plaza de la Constitution) and a large sports themed park. Also some nice quad space in Flagler College.
* Culturally lots of bars, restaurants & cafes, historic sites & museums, and live music venues. Flagler College also brings a lot of cultural activities especially in the performing arts. Because of the tourism the many annual festivals as well.
* Lots a typical tourist stores like boutiques, gift shops, clothing ,specialty and home good stores. .Some more traditional stores like banks, post office, and small gourmet grocerias. No larger retailors nor a supermarket or drug stores.
* Excellent ADA infrastructure bolstered by a dwtn pedestrian street (St. George St.).
* Strong sense of place with a combination of distinctive historic architecture, pedestrian paths and pretty good neighborhood boundaries.
* Overall great urban form, but still pockets of surface parking and more auto centric streets on the edges of the district.
* Great pedestrian activity in the historic district. Less so in the more residential portion of the neighborhood west of Cordova St.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Dwtn Jacksonville is over a 45+ drive with poor transit access. Some jobs in dwtn St. Augustine with Flagler College and the tourist industry.
* Public transit is pretty limited.
* No dedicated bike lanes but there is a dockless system in the City.
* For sale housing rather expensive. 2-bedrooms start in the mid 200ks and 3-bedrooms sell generally btwn the 300Ks-500Ks. 4-bedrooms are 500k or higher. Really no 1-bedroom condo product. Rental product is pretty limited and a bit on the expensive side.
* Both a quality public and catholic elementary school within walking distance. But no middle or high schools.
* Modern architecture is limited.

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