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The Nations Oldest City St. Augustine

Brief Description

For this preservation-based resilience planning initiative, The Craig Group worked with the City of St. Augustine historic preservation office, local engineers, landscape architects, and archaeologists to develop an adaptation strategy, including a public policy toolkit for flooding adaptation and a storymap for resilience planning.



Integrating Historic Preservation

St. Augustine, founded in 1565, ranks as the nation’s oldest continuously occupied settlement of European and African American origin in the continental United States. The ten-square-mile area, with a current population of 14,280, is abundant in cultural heritage. Archaeological resources provide evidence of pre- historic and Native American heritage dating back more than 4,000 years. Many properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and several are National Historic Landmarks such as those in the St. Augustine Town Plan. Thousands of buildings are more than fifty years old which heightens the city’s unique sense of place. These heritage assets attract more than six million visitors annually.


Part of the charm and beauty of St. Augustine is its proximity to meandering waterways and lengthy coastlines (Figure 1.2). Simultaneously, these features put the city at risk to flooding from tides, storms, and sea level rise. Within an eleven-month time span, St. Augustine suffered impacts from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, and two years later, Hurricane Dorian. These storms caused significant physical and economic damage. In addition to major storm events, the city suffers from nuisance flooding and will continue to combat rising waters from the impacts of sea level rise. These hazards threaten the historic assets that define St. Augustine. 


Integrating historic preservation considerations into hazard mitigation planning is a necessary strategy for the city’s continued resilience and high quality of life. City-wide vulnerability assessments, adaptation strategies, and mitigation planning for flooding and sea level rise, continue to evolve and are valuable sources of information for the City’s policymakers and the community’s property owners. This project, sponsored in part by the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources through a Small Matching Grant, focuses on creating a document that identifies methods for prioritizing archaeological sites threatened by rising seas, outlines the economic impacts of previous and future flooding events, and recommends potential solutions such as mitigation strategies and policy revisions.

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