Florida Stories: A Walking Tour of Pensacola

    Tom Scherberger                                                                 

    Want to explore the cultural, historical, and architectural treasures of Pensacola, Fla.? There’s an app for that.

    Just go to Florida Stories Walking Tours, and download the app created by the Florida Humanities Council.

    With this app you can learn, at your own pace and on your own schedule, what some of Florida’s most unique towns and cities have to offer.

    Here’s an overview of what you can experience via the Pensacola app:

    Where: Pensacola
    Number of stops: 12
    Total time: 45 minutes
    Author: Robert Overton Jr., University of West Florida Historic Trust executive director
    Start: T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum

    Overview

    From Spanish explorers in wooden sailing ships to Blue Angel jet fighters, Pensacola’s rich history spans more than 450 years, and is still being written.

    The westernmost city in Northwest Florida, it is a time zone away from Peninsular Florida, more Southern than big city Miami or tourist-centric Orlando.

    Its nickname "The City of Five Flags" reflects the five governments that have ruled over Pensacola: Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America.

    The walking tour is compact, centered in the Seville Historic District in downtown Pensacola and focusing primarily on the Colonial history of the city, when the British and Spanish fought for control.

    Highlights

    The tour starts at the three-story T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, in the former City Hall built in 1908.  The quirky collection here includes a 450-year-old anchor and a petrified cat.

    Plaza Ferdinand VII underscores Pensacola’s Colonial history under both the British and Spanish, ending in 1821 when Andrew Jackson and his troops marched across this ground to receive the Spanish flag transferring Florida from Spain to the United States.

    Beneath the surface of today’s Seville Square lie the remains of structures from Pensacola’s colonial history from 1756 to 1821, including Apalachee Indians who moved here in 1761 after Creeks burned their mission towns, and the British Fort of Pensacola, built by the British in 1775, which enclosed several earlier versions of the fort, including the original Spanish Fort San Miguel.

    St. Michael’s Cemetery, one of the oldest in Florida, is an oak-shaded eight acres with more than 3,000 marked graves marked in French, Spanish and English, with shells nestled next to some the markers suggesting the person buried there may have African or Native American ancestry.

    Quotable

    “Well, kill me! Kill me, because if you don’t kill me now, I will come back to recover my clothes, and I will kill you and anyone who is with you.” -- A Creek warrior’s threat during the 7-year war.

    Fun Fact

    Gen. Andrew Jackson and his troops occupied Pensacola three different times, in 1814, 1818 and 1821. Jackson eventually became Florida’s first territorial governor.

    Things to Do

    The “World’s Whitest Beaches” beckon, of course, and if you head there be sure to check out the Flora-Bama Lounge, a true Florida cultural landmark on Perdido Key, famous for the annual Interstate Mullet Toss.

    Climb the 177 steps up the Pensacola Lighthouse, the 1859 landmark at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Check out as well the National Naval Aviation Museum.

    Plenty of dining options are to be found in and around the Seville Historic District, including Jackson’s Steakhouse, in an 1860s building across from Plaza Ferdinand. Or, try Seville Quarter, a popular entertainment complex opened more than 40 years ago with seven themed rooms under one roof.

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