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Eight flags have flown over Amelia Island, where one of Florida’s oldest cities still retains its colonial character. Brick buildings and narrow streets evoke the 1700s in the historic seaport of Fernandina Beach at the island’s northernmost tip, which developed around a naturally deep harbor. The first true trade city in Florida, it was a stopping point for steamships — including the one that John Muir disembarked from in 1867 to walk across Florida and complete his 1,000 mile walk to the Gulf — and the northern terminus of the Florida Railroad, opened in 1861. As befits a city that has welcomed pirates and adventurers, it is home to the ...

Eight flags have flown over Amelia Island, where one of Florida’s oldest cities still retains its colonial character. Brick buildings and narrow streets evoke the 1700s in the historic seaport of Fernandina Beach at the island’s northernmost tip, which developed around a naturally deep harbor. The first true trade city in Florida, it was a stopping point for steamships — including the one that John Muir disembarked from in 1867 to walk across Florida and complete his 1,000 mile walk to the Gulf — and the northern terminus of the Florida Railroad, opened in 1861. As befits a city that has welcomed pirates and adventurers, it is home to the oldest continuously operating saloon in Florida (since 1903) and oldest hotel inside its 50-block National Historic District, plus one of its oldest forts, Fort Clinch. The Victorian “Silk Stocking” district is one of the grandest in the South. The southern end of Amelia Island was shaped in modern times by luxury resorts, including the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island and Amelia Island Plantation. In between are long-standing residential beach communities, among them American Beach, established in 1935 as a destination for African-American vacationers.

Sandra Friend
About the Expert

Sandra Friend has written 12 books about Florida, including the Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press) series to Florida.

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