Panzacola was a name of Native American origin (see below) given to Pensacola Bay and subsequently to the Spanish settlements built thereupon in the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically the Presidio San Miguel de Panzacola. It is the antecedent of the modern name Pensacola. Thanks Wikipedia!
Pensacola, Florida (1698), is a unique city, like many other unique cities in the area. Unique to me at least. There are no signs of typical sprawling malls, fast food joints or gas stations on every corner. Not to say there are none. I just can't see them!
Streets are tree-lined with small businesses and fancy insurance offices, housed in stunning historic homes, peeking through. Local restaurants and bars abound, making lovers of McDonalds fighting to find one.
I can't tell you what local neighborhoods look like because they too are tucked away amongst the trees. It makes Pensacola feel quite expansive, yet it only boasts a population of barely over 50,000.
Even once we reached downtown, the city was quiet on a chilly Saturday in mid December.
I'm not sure the snowbirds have really discovered this little piece of heaven as yet. Works for me!
One thing is immediately obvious when you visit the area. The navy is king.
Naval Air Station Pensacola, established in 1914, now employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel. This includes: Naval Aviation Schools Command, Naval Air Technical Training Center, Marine Aviation Training Support Group 21 and 23, the Blue Angels, and the headquarters for Naval Education Training Command, a command which combines direction and control of all Navy education and training.
Everywhere you look, you see references to the navy, the Blue Angels and the military in general. Reminds me a lot of Victoria, BC and Halifax, NS.
The history here is palpable. If you look at the list of Florida's oldest buildings, Pensacola is second only to St. Augustine (our March destination), with still standing homes dating back to 1805.
Pensacola is the oldest European settlement in the United States, but the area itself was inhabited by Native Americans thousands of years before any ship laid eyes on its shores. In August 1559, Spanish explorer Tristan de Luna sailed into its harbor. His fleet of 11 vessels was soon reduced to three after a hurricane swept through the area. Those surviving three soon thereafter headed south to Mexico!
History after this is somewhat frenzied. According the Smithsonian.com: It wasn't until 1698 that Spain established another garrison in Pensacola, where soldiers began to lay out a colonial town. In May 1719, Spaniards in Pensacola surrendered to the French, who were at war with Spain. Over the next century, a succession of competing powers—French, Spanish, British, then Spanish once more—would plant their flags in Pensacola sand until, in 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States.
Located on the westernmost tip of the Florida panhandle, it shares the coastline with its neighbor, Alabama.
Along Palafox Street, there are so many historic places that the Registry entered them as a group - Palafox Historic District. It is comprised of 100 buildings, including Rosie O'Grady's, the current-day restaurant in the Seville Quarter which was created with $1100 by Bob Snow while in town taking naval flight training in 1967. It has done nothing but grow in popularity since opening!
Seville Quarter is proud to be the Gulf Coast’s Entertainment Destination since 1967. We’ve got a rich history dating back over five decades, when Bob Snow took a dilapidated 19th century warehouse on East Government Street and transformed it into “Rosie O’Grady’s Warehouse,” a beer-and-peanuts saloon offering up heaping portions of Dixieland jazz and good times.
Since then, Seville Quarter has grown to include seven rooms — the original Rosie O’Grady’s, Phineas Phogg’s, Lili Marlene’s, Apple Annie’s, Fast Eddie’s, End o’ the Alley and Palace Café — each with its own theme and atmosphere. There’s also the Seville Party Plaza, an outdoor concert venue, and Heritage Hall, a spacious banquet and event facility.
Unlike the port cities of Vancouver, Victoria or Sydney, Australia, the waters were eerily quiet. It has waterfront dining options, a marina and the Port of Pensacola with ships of varying sizes in differing states of repair. But it wasn't the flurry of activity that I expected to see. No ferries. No huge housing developments. No seaplanes making loud, bouncy landings. Barely any people!
Few places have the 'let's go back' stamp of approval, only because there is so much to see in Canada and the U.S. that time probably won't allow too many repeat visits to places so far afield. Pensacola and Perdido Key, however, are now officially on that list.
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