Pensacola is the seat of Escambia County, Florida and is the westernmost city in the state. It covers an area of almost forty square miles and has a population of over fifty-four thousand residents. The city is a sea port on Pensacola Bay and is known as the “City of Five Flags” because five governments have flown their flags over the city during various times in its history. These included Great Britain, the United States, Spain, France and the Confederate States of America. Other nicknames for the city include “Cradle of Naval Aviation”, “World’s Whitest Beaches”, “Emerald Coast”, “Red Snapper
Capital of the World” and “America’s First Settlement”.
Pensacola was the first European settlement in the United States and was established by Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano in 1559. Less then a month later, the settlement and its fleet were destroyed by a hurricane. Two years later, the settlement was abandoned and the settlement was re-established by Spain and went on to become the largest city in Florida. in 1719, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, governor of French Louisiana claimed Pensacola for France. Jean-Baptiste arrived at the city with his fleet and a large army of Native Americans. Outmatched, the Spanish commander Metamoras surrendered the city. Three years later, another hurricane struck the city and the French abandoned it. Spain reclaimed it and moved the town from the barrier island to the mainland. In 1763, the British took control of the city and under its guidance prospered. The British made it the capital of British West Florida and the town was designed in its present form by engineer Elias Durnford.
After the French and Indian War, the British expelled the French from the North American mainland. Louisiana was transferred to the Spanish and Western Florida was transferred to the British. During the Battle of Pensacola, the Spanish captured West Florida from Britain and made it a possession of Spain. After the sale of the Louisiana territory to the United States, Florida was surrounded by the American territories. Anglo American development of West Florida increased and the Spanish were unable to fortify the region due to their preoccupation with Mexican and South American rebellions. In 1810, American settlers living in western Florida declared the area to be an independent state. In 1812, West Florida was annexed into the state of Louisiana.
Six years later the United States captured Florida and by 1821, all of Florida belonged to the United States. In March of 1845, Florida was admitted into the Union as a state.
Today, the city has a booming tourist trade and attracts many visitors with its collection of landmarks and attractions. A popular attraction in the city is the National Museum of Naval Aviation. The National Museum of Naval Aviation is an aerospace museum that is situated at the Naval Air Station of Pensacola. This museum opened in 1962 and is dedicated to the history of naval aviation. It contains over one hundred and fifty aircraft and space craft and the museum covers an area of three hundred thousand square feet and is situated on thirty-seven acres. Items in its collection includes a Curtiss A-1 Triad, ZPG-2 Control Car, Lockheed S-3 Viking, Ford RR-5 Trimotor, Lockheed P-3 Orion, Timm N2T Tutor, Curtiss N2C Fledgling, Grumman J4F Widgeon, Kaman H-2 Seasprite, Sikorsky HNS Hoverfly, North American FJ-2 Fury, McDonnell F3H Demon, Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, Sopwith F.1 Camel, Grumman C-1 Trader, Martin AM Mauler, Bell AH1 Sea Cobra and a Grumman AF Guardian. The museum also contains an IMAX theater, a cafe and a museum store. Also located here is the National Flight Academy, a program designed to teach middle and high school students the importance of math and science in aerospace careers.
Another popular attraction in Pensacola is the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum. This museum was built in 1907 and the building is built in a Spanish mission architectural style. The museum contains an interesting, and occassionally odd, assortment of exhibitions which include kitchenware, tools, furniture, books, photographs, textiles, toys and machinery. The only art museum that is located in the city is the Pensacola Museum of Art. This art gallery was opened in 1954 and is dedicated to modern and contemporary art. It contains sculptures, paintings and drawings from artists such as Alexander Calder, Salvador Dali, Fairfield Porter, Alex Katz, John Marin, Thomas Hart Benton, Milton Avery, Miriam Schapiro and Lynda Benglis.
Other attractions in the city of Pensacola include Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola Beach, Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas, Historic Pensacola Village, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Veterans Memorial Park, Rave Motion Picture Theater, Colonial Archaeological Trail Center, Discovery Gallery, Osceola Municipal Golf Course, Pensacola Big Game Fishing Club, Naval Live Oaks Reservation, Pensacola Historical Museum, Saenger Theater, Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier, Pensacola Zoo, Redfish University, The Moors, Santa Rosa Island, Buccaneer State Park, Fast Eddies Fun Center and Quayside. The city also contains an excellent collection of restaurants, nightclubs, bars and hotels.