Florida Today 8, Florida Frontiers “Ponce de León Landed HERE!!”
Five hundred and one years ago, Juan Ponce de León set sail from Puerto Rico in search of undiscovered land, slaves, and gold. His fleet of three ships included the Santiago, the San Cristóbal, and the Santa María de la Consolación.
The ships reached the northern end of the Bahamas by March 27, 1513, which was Easter Sunday. Ponce and his crew sailed for another few days until they sighted land on April 2. Because it was the Easter season, which the Spanish called the “Festival of Flowers,” and because of the beautiful landscape, Ponce named the land he saw “La Florida”—the land of flowers. The next day, on April 3, 1513, Ponce came ashore to claim this land for Spain.
But where was he? Where, exactly, did Ponce come ashore? That is the question explored in the original courtroom drama “Ponce de León Landed HERE!!” The production can be seen online at myfloridahistory.org/ponce.
For centuries, scholars, historians, students, and others have been arguing about where, exactly, Ponce de León landed on Florida’s east coast in 1513, when he gave our state its name.