Saint Augustine, a city, port of entry, and the county seat of St. John's co., Florida, on the E. coast, 33 m. S. S. E. of Jacksonville; pop. in 1870, 1,717, of whom 594 were colored; in 1875, about 2,000. It occupies a peninsula, formed by the Matanzas river on the east and the St. Sebastian on the south and west. Directly in front is Anastasia island, forming a breakwater. Along the E. front of the city, about a mile, is a sea wall 4 ft. wide, built by the United States in 1837-'42, affording a delightful promenade on moonlight evenings. On the N. end of Anastasia island (S. side of the entrance to the port) is a revolving light, lat. 29° 53' N., lon. 81° 16' W. The streets, which are generally narrow, cross each other at right angles. In the centre is a fine public square, called the "Plaza de la Consti-tucion," on which are the custom house and post office, an imposing structure, formerly the residence of the Spanish governor, remodelled by the United States; the Roman Catholic cathedral, a large edifice in the Moorish style, erected in 1793; the Episcopal church, the old convent, and the ancient markets. Until within a few years the only material used in building was the coquina rock, a conglomerate of small sea shells, quarried on Anastasia island, and dried hard in the sun.
The barracks are among the finest and most complete in the country. The building was formerly a Franciscan monastery. The old Spanish wall, which extended across the peninsula from shore to shore, and protected the city on the north, is in ruins. The principal object of interest to visitors is the old fortress of San Marco, now Fort Marion. It is of coquina, is well preserved, and will accommodate a garrison of 1,000 men. It was finished in 1756, after having been more than a century in construction, and was built entirely by Indian slaves. On account of the mildness of its climate, St. Augustine is much resorted to in the winter from the north; the number of visitors in 1874-'5 was more than 7,000. The mean annual temperature is 70°; frosts seldom occur, and semi-tropical fruits flourish. The chief business is the manufacture of "palmetto straw" work, which is largely shipped to the north. There is some coasting trade. Two lines of sailing packets run to New York. A railroad, 14 m. long, extends to Tocoi on the St. John's river, whence steamers ply to Jacksonville. There are four hotels, with accommodations for 700 guests; two free schools, one conducted by the sisters of charity, the other supported by the Peabody fund, each having about 200 pupils; two weekly newspapers; a public library of about 1,000 volumes; two convents; and five churches, viz.: Baptist (colored), Episcopal, Methodist (colored), Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic. About four fifths of the white inhabitants are of Spanish origin, and belong to the Catholic church. - St. Augustine is the oldest town in the United States, a fort having been built here by the Spaniards under Menendez in 1565. It was several times attacked by the French, English, and Indians. With the rest of Florida it came into the possession of the English by the treaty of 1763, was ceded to Spain in 1783, and transferred to the United States in 1819.