Florida Guide > Florida History
St Petersburg: A History
In the 19th century, a gentleman called General John Williams acquired 2500 acres of land in the south east part of (what we now know as) Pinellas County. John had a vision to create a beautiful place to live and play with wide sunny streets to add to its natural attractions.
In 1888 Peter Demens (a high born Russian) brought the rail road into the land belonging to Florida and on the toss of a coin it was decided that Peter should name this City. Thus it was named St Petersburg after his birth place.
A big campaign started to promote the city as a healthy place to holiday on the back of which many hotels were built.
The waterfront was protected and expanded by interested local people and businesses lead by W. L. Straub.
The commercial activities were diverted away from the area and a yacht basin, park and sea wall were built.
In the 1920s there was a building boom which included 10 new hotels. This came to a halt in the latter half of the decade and was further damaged in the Depression era.
During the Second World War all the empty hotel rooms were commandeered for the troops; indeed, in one 12 month period around 100,000 of the military had spent time here.
Just as in Clearwater, many of these military personnel were so charmed by the place that they moved here after the war.
It also became popular as a retirement destination for pensioners and at times a quarter of the population were over the age of retirement.
Slowly St Petersburg lost its place as a holiday destination and became a popular residential area. The tourists moved their business to the many beach resorts.
In 1957 The Sky Way Bridge was built and linked Manatee County to St Petersburg. 6 years later The Howard Frankland Bridge was opened and in 1962, The Pinellas Bayway was opened. All these combined, made getting around was simpler and faster.
St Petersburg also led the way in water conservation and has one of the largest re claimed water systems in America.
Since the 1980s, St Petersburg has continued to grow and develop and provides its residents with a pleasant and vibrant place to live. They average 3 Downtown events a day which help to encourage 10 million visitors a year to this city
St Petersburg currently has around 250, 000 residents which makes it the 3rd largest City in Florida.
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