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It might be argued that in terms of the built environment, Americans love what is new and are, at times, dismissive of that historic urban fabric of their past. As many parts of the country continue to be reinvigorated with new urban developments, it also becomes increasingly difficult to preserve those unique developments that are an integral part of a place's history. One city that is currently having a difficult time grappling with these issues happens to be St. Augustine, founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1565 and the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in North America. The city has approximately 1,200 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular tourist destination for persons looking to visit both the oldest fort in the United States (Castillo de San Marcos) and the city's extensive historic quarter, whose very layout reflects its Spanish colonial past. Currently the city is faced with dealing a number of development pressures, including the fact that Jacksonville (which is located north of St. Augustine) continues to grow quickly and other institutions in the city proper are looking to expand in the coming years. Echoing the concerns of many in the community, Bill Adams, the city's preservation director, recently commented that "Ultimately, the attrition of time will wear away at these national treasures and they'll gradually disappear, like footprints in the sand."The first link will take visitors to a recent USA Today news piece that explains the difficulties St. Augustine is facing as it tries to develop an effective way to preserve its heritage. The second link leads to the homepage of the Florida Office of Cultural and Historical Programs, which provides ample and engaging information about the various preservation and archaeological programs that occur under the Office's direction. The third link leads to a site offered by the City of St. Augustine's Department of Heritage Tourism where visitors can learn about various walking tours and the colonial Spanish Quarter. The fourth link will take visitors to the homepage of Citizens for the Preservation of St. Augustine, which is a "citizens action group committed to the preservation of St. Augustine's historic and scenic resources." The fifth link leads to a rather timely and germane document from The National Trust for Historic Preservation which offers some sober and reflective recommendations regarding the heritage tourism potential and possibilities for the city. The final link leads to a site provided by the National Park Service on the monumental Castillo de San Marcos, which was built by the Spanish from 1672 to 1695.
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