Pensacola [88] is a historic beach city in northwest Florida, in the United States of America. It is in Escambia County, Florida’s westernmost county, at the tip of the “panhandle”. The city is home to the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the National Museum of Naval Aviation and many historic districts that skirt the downtown area. Surrounded on three sides by water, the Pensacola area is full of history, shipwrecks, beaches and spectacular vistas.Pensacola should not be confused with its neighbor, Pensacola Beach, covered in a separate article.Pensacola has the nickname “The City of Five Flags.” Only the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce actually uses that name, but it’s a convenient short-handed way of describing the city’s history. Over the past 450 years, Pensacola has been owned by five nations: Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Confederate States. It was also inhabited by various Native American tribes, but sloganeers never seem to include them.When the Panzacola Indians arrived in Pensacola thousands of years ago, they found old growth pine forests, thicketed with massive pine trees so large, it would take two or three men to wrap your arms around the trunk. These trees provided so much shade that there was almost no undergrowth on the forest floor, and traveling through the woods was easy. Since there isn’t much food to be found in pine forests, the tribes tended to live near the water, where fishing was plentiful. Not much is known about these early inhabitants of the area: they left few artifacts behind, and all of the tribes that lived in Pensacola prior to European colonization have gone extinct. European colonization began with the Spanish: Juan Ponce de León (of Fountain of Youth fame) sighted the area first, and later Spanish explorers were excited by the well-protected, deep water bay. They recommended settlement, and in 1559, Tristán de Luna y Arellano arrived at the bay and founded the first European settlement in the United States. He named it… Puerto de Santa Maria. It failed miserably. He sent his men on worthless scouting missions into the desolate pine forests, lost all of his ships in a hurricane (with the supplies still on board!), and was so incapable and uninspiring that his men mutinied. He lived, thanks to the intervention of Catholic missionaries in the town, but once Spanish ships arrived a few months later, the remaining Spaniards quickly abandoned the settlement. Spain didn’t return…Until 1698. They had rediscovered the bay five years earlier during a mapping expedition. Since the bay was still a tempting harbor, and there were many old growth pines at the nearby Blackwater River that would be perfect for shipbuilding, Spain decided to resettle the bay. This time, the settlement was named Bahía Santa María de Filipina. Still not Pensacola! However, the name ‘Panzacola’ was written on explorer’s maps for the area, and the name was starting to gain informal use. The settlement was poor, small, populated mostly by prisoners, and suffered many setbacks. It remained this way for many years, when…In 1719, France, led by the governor of French Louisiana captured Pensacola from the Spanish at the outset of the War of the Quadruple Alliance. There was almost no resistance from Pensacola: no one had bothered to tell the Pensacolians that they were at war! The befuddled city greeted the French with open arms, expecting the ships from Mobile to trade supplies, not bullets. After taking control, they didn’t do much with the city. The French burned Pensacola during their retreat in 1722, and the Spanish resumed control of the (pillaged, charred) city…Until 1763, when Great Britain won Florida from the Spanish as a concession following the French and Indian War/Seven Years’ War. In exchange, Spain was allowed to keep Cuba, and was also given Louisiana as a gift from the French, in exchange for their help during the war. Not a bad trade. Great Britain was proud of its new city, and they put a lot of effort into improvement. It was declared the capital of the new colony of British West Florida, and they built most of the streets in downtown Pensacola that are still used today. This period of British prosperity didn’t last too long though, because…In 1781, Spain recaptured Pensacola, along with the rest of Florida, as an ally of the United States in the American Revolutionary War. Bernardo de Gálvez, the general of Spanish Louisiana, was instrumental in winning the city during the Battle of Pensacola. When the Spanish fleet commander lost a ship and refused to send any more into Pensacola Bay, Gálvez used his powers as governor to commandeer one of the ships from Louisiana and personally sailed it into the harbor, under constant cannon fire from the British. The other ships in the fleet soon followed, somewhat emasculated, one imagines. With Florida now in Spanish control, Spain controlled all of the Gulf Coast, and parts of the Mississippi River, which resulted in a lot of discontent among United States settlers in the south. They wanted water access, and their agitation for a seaport eventually inspire a young general named Andrew Jackson, who…In 1821, finally succeeded in capturing Pensacola, and Florida, for the fourth and final time: it was now owned by the United States of America. The Adams-Onís Treaty made the acquisition official, giving Pensacola and all of Spanish Florida to the Americans. This was a boon for Mississippi and Alabama, which finally gained access to the sea. It wasn’t so great for General Jackson, who was made Governor of Florida, a job he hated, and later quit. By this time, Pensacola had become the largest city in Florida, and was one of the most important ports on the Gulf Coast. In 1845 the territory became the 27th United State. The United States invested a lot in Florida, building forts here, increasing a military presence. They built shipyards, which a hundred years later would become Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. In 1861 Florida seceded from the United States to join the Confederate States of America. For four years, Florida fought with the South as part of the American Civil War. Contrary to initial expectations, this war did not end well for the South. Even worse for Pensacola, the Confederacy single-handedly destroyed the city’s economy. Confederate Colonel John Beard, afraid that Union troops would capture Pensacola, ordered his men to “destroy every foot of lumber, all saw-mills, boats, etc.,” along with anything else that may be of use to “the enemy.” The city’s economy never fully recovered.Pensacola rejoined the United States in 1865, beginning a long decline for the city. The lumber industry began to rebuild, but by the 1930s, every old-growth tree in northwest Florida had been cut down, leaving nothing but small, newly-planted pines. Pensacola Bay, the entire reason for the city’s existence, was unable to accommodate modern ships, which required deeper water. The city council declined to dredge the bay to make the water deeper, and the harbor declined to near nothingness. Most of the shipping moved to Mobile.Today, the military is a driving force in Pensacola’s economy. The Pensacola shipyards were re-purposed, and became the first naval air station in the United States in 1913. NAS Pensacola is home to the Blue Angels and the National Museum of Naval Aviation. All naval aviators are, at some point in their career, trained at NAS Pensacola. The base employs more than 23,000 people.Often described as having three-and-a-half seasons, Pensacola has a subtropical climate with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. Typical summer conditions have highs in the low 90s F (32-34 C) and lows in the mid 70s (23-24 C). Afternoon or evening thunderstorms are common during the summer months. Due partly to the coastal location, temperatures above 100 F (37.8 C) are rare, and last occurred in June 2011, when two of the first four days of the month recorded highs of over 100 F.In winter, expect brisk, cool, dry days. The average high in January is 61.2 F (16.2 C), and the low is 42.8 F (6.0 C), though freezing temperatures occur on an average fifteen nights per season. If you come from a northern climate, you can survive a Pensacola winter with nothing more than a sweater or light jacket. Pensacolians, on the other hand, drag out the parkas when it hits fifty degrees.Spring and fall are both mild times to visit. The temperatures tend to stay around sixty to eighty degrees, there’s less risk of tropical storms, there’s less humidity, and the thunderstorms are less powerful. It’s a good time to sunbathe too, when the sun is bright but mild. No matter what time of year you visit, you should bring an umbrella. Pensacola is one of the rainiest places east of the Mississippi, and there is no dry season or wet season: rain can hit at any time of the year. The city receives 64.28 inches (1,630 mm) of precipitation per year, with a rainy season in the summer. The rainiest month is July, with 8.02 inches (204 mm), with April being the driest month at 3.89 inches (99 mm). Spring and summer have ‘popcorn showers,’ a peppy euphemism for thunderstorms that seem to exist solely to soak you unexpectedly, then disappear, leaving you to enjoy the sunshine again. Always, when visiting Pensacola, have some plans for indoor activities, in case your outdoor plans get rained out. There are many popular indoor activities that will keep you entertained.June to November is known as hurricane season. Hurricanes are powerful tropical storms with high wind speeds, rain, and coastal flooding. While Pensacola is vulnerable to hurricanes, they don’t hit every year, and most of them are pretty weak. After nearly 70 years without a direct hit, Pensacola, Florida was hit directly by Hurricane Erin (catagory 2) in August 1995 and major Hurricane Ivan (catagory 3) in September 2004. Hurricane Dennis brushed the area in July 2005 causing moderate damage. Visitors will usually have plenty of notice if they keep up with the media.Pensacola International Airport (IATA: PNS), [89]. Pensacola International Airport is currently served by six airlines providing direct service to 20 destinations. The airport is served by all major airline alliances as well as several budget carriers. From the airport, you can rent a car, order a cab, or use the Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) bus system. Numerous companies offer car rental service from PNS, and this will be your best option for traveling around the city. Alamo [90], Avis [91], Budget [92], Dollar Rent-a-Car [93], Hertz [94], and National Car Rental [95] all offer services at the airport. In addition, Enterprise Rent-a-Car [96], and Thrifty Car Rental [97] have locations just off of airport property, and offer complimentary shuttle service to their offices.Taxi cabs, there is an $11 minimum charge for the use of a taxi from the airport. However, this charge is lower than most cities in the United States, and in fact Pensacola taxi cab fares are among the lowest in the nation

Airport: NPA Pensacola Naval Air Station/Forrest Sherman Field Cities in United States

Country: United States