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Florida’s Pensacola celebrates 200 years since US takeover

July 17, 2021 GMT

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Panhandle city of Pensacola celebrated its 200th anniversary on Saturday as part of the U.S., marking the date the then-territory shifted from Spanish rule.

The Penscola News Journal reports that events to commemorate the occasion included battle reenactments, a performance by an African drum and dance troupe, establishment of a new historic marker and a Navy aircraft flyover.

On July 17, 1821, territorial governor and future president Andrew Jackson watched as the Spanish flag was replaced by the U.S. flag in Pensacola. The territory also had been under French and British control at various times.

Florida was admitted to the union as the 27th state in March 1845. Historians say that territorial period beginning 200 years ago Saturday marked a major change for Pensacola and Florida as a whole.

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“This territorial period that started in 1821 and went through 1845 was a time when the entire culture in Florida transitioned from Spanish colonial to the United States,” said former University of West Florida president and retired archaeologist Judy Bense, who is co-chair of the anniversary commission.

“Everything changed. Religion, culture, architecture. Of course, the political scene,” Bense said.

St. Augustine, founded in 1565 on the Atlantic coast, is generally considered the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S. Pensacola dates from 1698, when the Spanish returned after a previous plan to settle the area over a century earlier was wrecked by a hurricane.

Today Pensacola is home to a well-known Naval Air Station. Historians say its roots trace to the Pensacola Navy Yard established in 1824.