I receive much of my information from living on the First Coast, so what and where exactly is the first coast?
Florida’s First Coast is a region of the U.S. located on the Atlantic coast of North Florida. The First Coast refers to the same general area as the region of Northeast Florida. It comprises the five counties surrounding Jacksonville: Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns, largely corresponding to the Jacksonville metropolitan area, and depending who you ask includes nearby areas Putnam and Flagler counties in Florida and Camden County in Georgia. As its name suggests, the First Coast was the first area of Florida colonized by Europeans. The name originated in a marketing campaign in the 1980’s.
The name refers both to the area’s status as the first coast that 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 and settlement. Juan Ponce de León may have landed in this region during his first expedition in 1513, and the early French colony of Fort Caroline was founded in present-day Jacksonville in 1564. Significantly, the First Coast includes St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European-established city in the continental U.S., founded by the Spanish in 1565.
The First Coast marketing campaign and identity has been very popular with its spread to other nearby areas, being found as far south as Flagler Beach in Flagler County, Palatka in Putnam County, and as far north as St. Mary’s, Georgia.