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You might be inclined to overlook PENSACOLA , tucked away as it is at the west end of the Panhandle. The city, on the northern
bank of the broad Pensacola Bay, is five miles inland from the nearest beaches, and its prime features are a naval aviation school
and some busy dockyards. Pensacola is, however, worth a visit - its white beaches are relatively untouched, and it is an historic center:
occupied by the Spanish from 1559. Only the hurricane two years later that ended their settlement prevented it becoming the oldest
city in the US. It repeatedly changed hands among the Spanish, French and British before becoming the place where Florida was
officially ceded by Spain to the US in 1821.
Pensacola was already a booming port by c.1900, when the opening of the Panama Canal was expected to boost its fortunes still
further. The many new buildings that appeared in the Palafox District , around the southerly section of Palafox Street, in the early
1900s - with their delicate ornamentation and attention to detail - reflect the optimism of the era. Between 1870 and 1930,
Pensacola's professional classes took a shine to the area called North Hill , just across Wright Street from Palafox, commissioning
elaborate homes in a plethora of fancy styles. Strewn across the fifty-block area are Neoclassical porches, Tudor Revival cottages,
low-slung California bungalows, and the rounded towers of the finest Queen Anne homes. Though none is open to the public, you
can see them on special tours.
In earlier times, Native Americans, pioneer settlers and seafaring traders had gathered to swap, sell and barter on the waterfront of
the Seville District , about half a mile east of Palafox Street. Those who did well took up permanent residence, and many of their
homes remain in fine states of repair, forming - together with several museums - the Historic Pensacola Village (Tues-Sat 10am-4pm).
Each ticket is valid for two days and allows access to all of the museums and former homes in an easily navigated four-block area.
Inside the US naval base on Navy Boulevard, about eight miles southwest of central Pensacola, the Museum of Naval Aviation exhibits
US naval aircraft. They range from the first flimsy seaplane acquired in 1911 to the Phantoms and Hornets of more recent times
(daily 9am-5pm; free, IMAX; tel 1-800/247-6289).
read full wikipedia reference about Pensacola, Florida
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