St. Augustine was sighted and named by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés exactly 446 years ago today, 28 August 2011.
Today’s date marks the day 446 years ago that Menéndez first sighted, and named, St. Augustine, though he didn’t make landfall until a week later, on September 7. So an early Happy Birthday to St. Augustine, the Ancient City and Oldest Port!
UPDATE: There have been some questions from our readers regarding the exact day that St. Augustine was founded. Many sources list it as September 8, including the webpage of the City of St. Augustine. Here is a definitive timeline from the Florida Museum of Natural History, which under Dr. Kathleen Deagan has conducted archaeological excavations of Menéndez’ first settlement and fortification, to help clear up some of the important date’s in St. Augustine’s first year of existence. You’ll see that a lot of dramatic and pivotal historical events happened very quickly in those first few week’s after Menéndez’ landfall:

• August 28 – Sighted land of Florida on St. Augustine’s feast day
• September 7 – Captains Morales and Patiño disembark with 30 men to dig an entrenchment to protect people and supplies while the site of the fort is more carefully chosen
• September 8 – Menendez formally claims Florida, unloads two of his ships
• September 20 – Menendez and 500 soldiers march on Ft. Caroline, capture the fort and rename it San Mateo
• September 27(?) – Menendez returns in triumph to St. Augustine, with 200 men
• September 29 – Massacre of French at Matanzas
• October 11 – Second massacre at Matanzas
• November 1 – Menendez takes 250 men to Cape Canaveral, captures French survivors there. Before leaving, Menendez marks out the fort at St. Augustine, and establishes a work schedule for the soldiers to build it. Their tools were iron poles, mattocks and hatchets.