By: Kathy Collins
The Tampa Bay History Center will celebrate the 450th birthday of America’s oldest city, St. Augustine, with a fabulous new exhibit. St. Augustine at 450: A Look at the Oldest European City in the U.S., is on view in the Touchton Map Gallery at the Tampa Bay History Center beginning on Saturday, May 23 and running through fall 2015.
Did you know that by the time the first Pilgrims set foot in New England, Spanish settlers had been strolling the cobblestone-lined streets of St. Augustine in La Florida for five decades? This new exhibit is a fantastic opportunity to see rare maps and prints of America’s oldest permanent European settlement.
The exhibit will feature more than 40 original maps, charts and color lithographs of the city, which was originally settled by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. The oldest map in the exhibit dates to the late 1500s and depicts Florida from the viewpoint of artist Jacques LeMoyne, who was part of a French settlement near present-day Jacksonville that prompted Spanish officials to send Menéndez to Florida. The exhibit also includes an engraved powder horn that likely dates to the 20-year British occupation of St. Augustine from 1763 to 1783. In addition, there are several 19th century lithographs depicting street scenes of the ancient city.
“People often forget that the oldest permanent European settlement in North America is right here in Florida,” said Rodney Kite-Powell, Curator of History at the Tampa Bay History Center. “The exhibition gives us a chance to mark the founding of Florida’s oldest city,” added Kite-Powell.
The Tampa Bay History Center includes three floors of permanent and temporary exhibition space focusing on 12,000 years of Florida history. The Tampa Bay History Center features a Museum Store, the Witt Research Center (a branch of the Hillsborough County Public Library System), a map gallery, an event hall and the Columbia Cafe. The Tampa Bay History Center is one of Tampa’s premier cultural venues. The Tampa Bay History Center’s hands-on, cutting-edge interactive exhibits and programs offer a fun, educational experience for all ages.
The Tampa Bay History Center is located at 801 Old Water St. in downtown Tampa right next to the Amalie Arena. For more information contact the Tampa Bay History Center at 228-0097 or www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.