Title page for ETD etd-04132007-094737

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Wilson, Harry James
URN etd-04132007-094737
Title The Urban Development of Spanish Colonial Pensacola, 1781-1821
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Andrew Curtis Committee Chair
Kent Mathewson Committee Member
Michael Leitner Committee Member
Paul Farnsworth Committee Member
  • Pensacola
  • Latin America
  • GIS
  • Morphogenesis
Date of Defense 2007-03-16
Availability unrestricted
Pensacola evolved through the second Spanish period (1781-1821) from a fledgling military outpost to an increasingly complex urban center. Local and regional demographic trends and environmental conditions prompted Pensacola to grow in a manner that differed from other Spanish colonial urban centers and created in Pensacola an unusual class structure and residential patterning. The primary goal of this dissertation is to show that Pensacola’s residential and landowning patterns never experienced the degree of socioeconomic residential clustering noted in other Spanish colonial urban centers. Social residential clustering was unusual in Spanish Pensacola, and socioeconomic classes and land values varied from lot to lot. Middle-class whites made up the overwhelming majority of landowners and owned property in every section of town, while elites and lower-class families bought less land in Pensacola and lived interspersed throughout the residential section.

The second goal of this dissertation is to illuminate three phases of urban development from a small colonial military town and scant landowning class congregated near the central fort before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, to a more traditional Spanish administrative regional center with increased population after the Purchase, to a town threatened by American influence and speculation after 1816. The third goal of this dissertation reveals the town’s socioeconomic class structure, a necessary step that provides context regarding Pensacola’s residents. Unlike other Spanish colonial urban centers, administrators and retired military officers dominated Pensacola’s small elite class. The middle class was approximately three times as populous as the elite class, and included a variety of Peninsulars and Creole professionals, high-status artisans, and landowners. Most residents were among the lower class, and consisted of Creoles, mulattos, and Blacks whose labors catered to the local military and administrative needs.

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