Pensacola (pĕnsəkōˈlə) [key], city (1990 pop. 58,165), seat of Escambia co., extreme NW Fla., on Pensacola Bay; inc. 1822. It is a port of entry with a natural harbor and shipping and fishing industries. A manufacturing center of W Florida, the city has industries that produce synthetic fibers, chemicals, and naval stores. The Spanish established a short-lived settlement (1559–61) there; in 1698 a new Spanish colony was founded. Between 1719 and 1723 possession of Pensacola shifted between the Spanish and the French, but in 1763 the city passed to the British. It again became Spanish in 1783, after its capture (1781) by Bernardo de Gálvez. Although still Spanish, the city served as a British base in the War of 1812 until it was captured (1814) by Andrew Jackson. The United States took formal possession in 1821 after the purchase of Florida, and Pensacola remained the capital of West Florida until 1822. During the Civil War the city was abandoned (1862) to Confederate forces. Much of the life of the city is related to the U.S. naval air station, established there in 1914. Eglin Air Force Base is nearby. The Univ. of West Florida is in Pensacola. Of interest are several historical museums and the naval-aviation museum at the air station. The ruins of a number of old forts, some dating from the 1780s, lie on the shores of Pensacola Bay. The eastern section of Gulf Islands National Seashore is there. The Pensacola area suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
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