Jacksonville, the largest city (land area) in Florida and in the contiguous United States. It is the seat of Duval County in northeastern Florida and is situated on the banks of the St. Johns River.
Excavations have discovered pot shards that place the Timucua Native Americans in the area at about 2500 BC. Europeans arrived in the area in the mid-1500s and in 1564, the area was the site of the French Fort Caroline, one of the earliest European settlements in the continental United States. In 1565, a Spanish force from the nearby colony of St. Augustine attacked and conquered Fort Caroline, solidifying St. Augustine as the most important colony in the region.
Spain ceded Florida to the British in 1763 after the Seven Years War in exchange for Havana, Cuba. The British soon constructed the King's Road, connecting St. Augustine to its colony in Georgia, with a cattle crossing at the shallows of the St. Johns, the area then called Cowford, today's Jacksonville. The area was ceded back to Spain by Britain at the end of the American Revolutionary War. Spain finally ceded the Florida Territory to the United States in 1821.
Downtown Jacksonville was ravaged by a blaze that started at a fiber factory. The 'Great Fire of 1901,' was one of the worst disasters in Florida history and the largest urban fire in the Southeast, leaving more than 10,000 residents homeless.
As the city was rebuilt, New York-based filmmakers were attracted to Jacksonville's climate, exotic surroundings, rail access and cheap labor. From about 1910-1920, more than 30 silent film studios were established, earning Jacksonville the title of 'Winter Film Capital of the World'. However, the city's ultra-conservative political climate and the emergence of Hollywood as a film production center ended the city's film industry. One movie studio site, Norman Studios, remains in Arlington. It has been converted to the Jacksonville Silent Film Museum at Norman Studios.
Jacksonville also has a Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as the Museum of Science and History. The Karpeles Manuscript Library contains a collection of original manuscripts and documents with many antique books.
The National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars are the most-prominent team on the local sports scene but there's also, the Suns, the Barracudas, and the women's football team the Dixie Blues.