'First Coast' of Florida
Florida's FIRST COAST is located on the Atlantic coast of North Florida beginning south of the Georgia/Florida border and stretching approximately 75 miles of coastline from Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island southward through Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra, Palm Coast and south of Saint Augustine to Daytona Beach. The FIRST COAST roughly comprises the five counties surrounding Jacksonville: Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns, largely corresponding to the Jacksonville metropolitan area. The principal cities of Florida's First Coast include Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville, Orange Park, St. Augustine and Daytona Beach.
The term originated in a marketing campaign in the 1980s. The concept of the FIRST COAST was developed for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce by the William Cook Advertising Agency in 1983, coined by William Cook staff members Kay Johnson, Bryan Cox, and Bill Jones, and was officially introduced in the "First Coast Anthem" at the 1983 Gator Bowl. The name refers to both the fact that this is the "first coast" many visitors reach when entering Florida, as well as to the region's history as the first place in the continental United States to see European contact.
The term "First Coast" became very popular through the 1980s, surprising even its creators. By 2002 nearly 800 organizations and businesses included "First Coast" in their name. Lamme and Oldakowski found that in 2007 18% of Floridians surveyed were familiar with the FIRST COAST, making it one of the best known vernacular regions by Floridians. In 2013, The Florida Times-Union noted that the FIRST COAST sometimes extended as far south as Flagler Beach in Flagler County, and that within the area, St. Johns County had begun to brand itself as the "Historic Coast". The FIRST COAST was the first area of Florida colonized by Europeans, which includes St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European-established city in the continental U.S., founded by the Spanish in 1565. The early French colony of Fort Caroline was founded in present-day Jacksonville in 1563.
FIRST COAST beaches have remained basically unspoiled and accessible while other Florida coastal areas have undergone years of development. The FIRST COAST has over 400 miles of river, waterways, creeks, ponds and lakes and 75 miles of Atlantic coastline and . The area has a unique diversity of waters, marine species and tidal conditions/wetlands. The Atlantic Ocean, intra-coastal waterway and St. Johns River offer endless choices for outdoor recreation, with some of the best inshore and offshore fishing and boating in the country.
The city of St. Augustine is well-known for being the oldest established colony in the U.S. Visiting the city is a wondrous excursion into the past. Included in Florida's FIRST COAST areas are many popular attractions and beaches, loaded with a rich heritage, historical significance and all out atmosphere of family fun, offering a diversity of fine dining, lodging and entertainment.
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