On the dock of the bay
In the early 1900s, parcels of St. Petersburg, Fla.’s 33-mile waterfront were little more than blighted properties lined with shacks and deteriorating buildings. But, in 1908, the city council approved $5,120 to purchase four lots of waterfront property, according to the March 1945 issue of The American City. For the next 17 years, the city continued to acquire adjacent property, including four miles that it turned into Waterfront Park. In 1925, residents approved a $1 million bond issue to construct the 1,700-foot-long Municipal Pier, which extended from Waterfront Park into Tampa Bay. Opening in 1926, the pier included the Municipal Solarium — then known to be the largest in the world — a ballroom and observation deck.
By 1967, the original pier had deteriorated and was demolished, and, in 1973, the new St. Petersburg Pier opened. Commonly known as The Pier, the $15 million facility features a five-story inverted pyramid that houses restaurants, retail, galleries and The Pier Aquarium. The Pier is open year-round and is the site of nearly 300 events annually, including Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve celebrations, motorcycle shows, sightseeing boat tours and dances. Still owned and managed by the city, The Pier welcomes 1.2 million visitors annually.