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Northeast Florida

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Title: Northeast Florida  
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Northeast Florida

First Coast

Location in the state of Florida


Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, St. Johns; sometimes including Flagler and Putnam

Major cities

Fernandina Beach
St. Augustine
Palm Coast
Jacksonville Beach

Florida's First Coast, or simply the First Coast, is a region of the U.S. state of Florida, located on the Atlantic coast of North Florida. 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 term originated in a marketing campaign in the 1980s, and has since emerged as one of Florida's best known vernacular regions. The First Coast refers to the same general area as the "directional" region of Northeast Florida, which may further include Putnam and Flagler Counties.


As its name suggests, the First Coast was the first area of Florida colonized by Europeans, but as with several other of Florida's vernacular regions, a popular identity covering the whole area originated with the tourism industry before being adopted by the community at large.[1] The concept of the First Coast was developed for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce by the William Cook Advertising Agency in 1983. Jacksonville itself already had other nicknames, but local officials wanted a comprehensive marketing campaign for the entire metropolitan areaDuval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns Counties – to better promote the region without overshadowing the identities of the particular localities involved. The term "Florida's First Coast" was 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.[2]

The First Coast is similar to Florida's various other "Coast" regions such as the Space Coast and the Gold Coast that emerged as a result of marketing campaigns.[1] 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.[3] 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 1563. 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.[2]

A 2007 survey by geographers Ary J. Lamme and Raymond K. Oldakowski notes that the emergence of the First Coast as a vernacular region has superseded two earlier geographical appellations: "Florida's Crown" and "South Georgia", attested in earlier surveys. The former term refers to the area's northern location and the shape of the Georgia border, while the latter emphasizes that the local culture was seen as more similar to that in Georgia and the South in general than to the rest of the Florida peninsula. A conscious push to supplant potentially uncomplimentary connotations may have led to the decline of "South Georgia" in favor of "First Coast"; this coincides with a waning of terms such as "Old South" and "Dixie" in much of the state. The name "First Coast" reinforces the region's connection to the rest of Florida, an important perceptual tie-in for attracting residents, businesses, and tourists.[3]

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.[2] 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.[4] 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".[5]

Northeast Florida

The "directional" region of Northeast Florida refers to largely the same area as the First Coast. Lamme and Oldakowski's 2007 survey noted that "North East Florida" had emerged as one of six common directional regions, along with North Florida, Central Florida, South Florida, North Central Florida, and South West Florida.[6] The survey found that the term was primarily used only in the north-easternmost parts of the state – Nassau and Duval Counties.[7]

However, Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development agency, identifies "Northeast Florida" as one of eight economic regions used by the agency and other state and outside entities. This definition includes all five counties of the Jacksonville metropolitan area (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns), as well as Putnam and Flagler Counties to the south.[8] This definition is used by organizations such as the Florida Department of Transportation, JaxUSA Partnership (the regional business development wing of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce), and the Northeast Florida Regional Council.[9][10] Similarly, in June 2013, the state established the Northeast Florida Regional Transportation Commission, which covers all these counties besides Flagler.[11]



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