PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) – The city of Pensacola, Fla. Celebrated its 200th anniversary on Saturday as part of the United States, marking the date that the then territory passed from Spanish rule.
Penscola News Journal reports that events to commemorate the occasion included re-enactments of battles, a performance of an African drumming and dancing troupe, the establishment of a new historical marker and a flyby of Navy planes.
On July 17, 1821, Territorial Governor and future President Andrew Jackson saw the Spanish flag replaced by the American flag in Pensacola. The territory had also been under French and British control on several occasions.
Florida was admitted to the union as the 27th state in March 1845. Historians say the territorial period beginning 200 years ago on Saturday marked a major change for Pensacola and Florida as a whole.
“This territorial period which began in 1821 and spanned 1845 was a time when all of Florida culture shifted from Spanish colonization to the United States,” said former University of West Florida president and archaeologist retired Judy Bense, co-chair of the anniversary committee.
“Everything has changed. Religion, culture, architecture. Of course, the political scene,” Bense said.
St. Augustine, founded in 1565 on the Atlantic coast, is widely regarded as the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States. Pensacola dates back to 1698, when the Spaniards returned after a previous plan to colonize the area more than a century earlier was destroyed by a hurricane.
Today, Pensacola is home to a well-known naval air base. Historians say its roots go back to the Pensacola Navy Yard established in 1824.