St. Augustine makes the cut: City ranked No. 6 on Best Historic City list


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The voting is complete and the Ancient City finished No. 6 in the Best Historic City contest, an online event hosted by 10Best, a division of USA Today Travel.

The top five include Montgomery, Ala.; Annapolis, Md.; Williamsburg, Va.; Savannah; and Charleston, S.C. “I think a lot of people would have named those other cities. But for St. Augustine to be there, I think that’s a feather in our cap,” said Paul Williamson, director of public affairs for the city of St. Augustine.

“It says they know that Jamestown was important, Plymouth was important, and now they are realizing that St. Augustine is important too … because we were first.”

Richard Goldman, executive director of the St. Johns County Visitors and Convention Bureau, also credits St. Augustine’s historical importance.

“Of course we think St. Augustine should be first; after all, we are the Nation’s oldest continuously occupied European city,” Richard Goldman said.

“But rather than fretting that we are not higher, I am more impressed by the destinations we are ahead of … Behind us at seven through 10 are, in order, Boston, Santa Fe, Philadelphia and New Orleans. Every one of those markets has more people and bigger budgets than Florida’s Historic Coast.”

Goldman also made it a point to say that the poll is based on website visits and social media engagement campaigns by USA Today’s 10Best.

As a Best Historic City nominee, the website had this to say about St. Augustine: “Nicknamed the ‘Old City,’ St. Augustine was the first European settlement in the U.S., discovered in 1565, some 55 years before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. History is in evidence throughout the city, from the preserved walls of 17th-century Castillo de San Marcos to the beautiful Flagler College, built as a hotel by Henry Flagler during St. Augustine’s rise in popularity as a winter resort town in the late 19th century.”

A photo with the article shows two horse-and-carriages in front of the Casa Monica Hotel and Lightner Museum from, the Visitors and Convention Bureau site.

With more than 40 sites in St. Johns County on the National Register of Historic Places list, residents and visitors have plenty of hands-on history to view.

“Historically, the Castillo has had the highest attendance — 596,821 in 2013. The next highest were the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the Alligator Farm,” Goldman said.

“Our museums, including the Lightner, Pirate and Treasure and World Golf Hall of Fame, would make up the next tier of attractions based on attendance.”

According to Goldman, affordable attractions and world-class golf are a significant draw to visitors, along with 42 miles of unobstructed beaches.

Williamson believes the list speaks more to the everyday person because the voters were giving their opinion on historic places they see as significant.

“It’s not only that it (the list) is good for tourism, but it shows that regular folks know about us (St. Augustine), too. They can come here and see the historic backdrop of our buildings and the setting,” Williamson said.

“People feel like they are in a historic environment. Even though some may not be deeply appreciative of history, when they come out of a restaurant or lounge, they see those towers (on area historic buildings) and the bridge (the Bridge of Lions) … and that’s probably why people think of us.”

Irene Arriola Real Estate, Inc.
81 King Street, Suite B Saint Augustine, FL 32084
Email: [email protected] | Office phone: 904.829.2002
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