The history of St Petersburg Florida is a short one, at least as far as the city itself is concerned. Before St Petersburg's incorporation as a city on February 29, 1892, much of the peninsula on which the city lies was relatively undeveloped. In 1875, a General from Detroit came to the peninsula and purchased 2,500 acres of land on the shores of beautiful Tampa Bay. General John Williams had a grand city in mind when he purchased the land on which St Petersburg sits, and the plans for his city included lovely parks and wide avenues. St Petersburg might not be as grand as founder John Williams likely wanted it to be, but it is quite dazzling nonetheless. You'll definitely find plenty of inviting parks and broad streets in downtown St Petersburg, which helps to make it one of the more attractive downtown areas in the entire country.
John Williams wasn't the only founder of St Petersburg. He shared that honor with a Russian aristocrat by the name of Peter Demens. When it comes to interesting facts about St Petersburg, it is interesting to note that Demens was instrumental in bringing a railroad terminus to the city in 1888. This was the impetus that led to St Petersburg's eventual growth. The name of the city also brings up one of the more interesting facts about St Petersburg, though, it might be more legend than fact. According to legend, city cofounders, John Williams and Peter Demens, flipped a coin to see who would get the honor of naming the city. Demens won, and thus he named the city after his native St Petersburg Russia.
If you are looking for attractions that reflect the history of St Petersburg Florida, you can check out the Detroit Hotel while touring about the downtown area. Now home to condominiums, the building that once housed the Detroit Hotel still stands to this day. As for the city's oldest running hotels, they include the Pier Hotel and The Heritage Hotel. The former, which was built in 1921, was lovingly restored in 2000 and is elegant as ever. As for The Heritage Hotel, it dates back to 1926 and offers a vintage feel that some visitors appreciate. For those who are really interested in St Petersburg Florida history, exploring some of the city's historic districts is recommended. The North Shore Historic District is one such district that history buffs won't want to miss. It's also an excellent district to explore for architecture enthusiasts, thanks to its rich mix of architectural styles. Just west of the downtown area is the historic neighborhood of Kenwood. Many of the homes in the Kenwood neighborhood date back to the 1920s, and you'll find a high concentration of bungalows here.
The year 1914 is one of the more interesting years when it comes to intriguing facts about St Petersburg history. It was in this year that the birth of commercial aviation happened in St Petersburg, and it was also in this year that the city became a prime spring training destination for Major League Baseball teams. It was the St Louis Browns that arrived to train in St Petersburg first, and baseball continues to be a big deal in the city to this day. The Tampa Bay Rays play their home games in St Petersburg at Tropicana Field. As for the birth of commercial aviation, it involved the establishment of airplane service between St Petersburg and nearby Tampa. Pilot Tony Jannus was the first person to fly across Tampa Bay in 1914, and he did it in only 23 minutes.
The 1920s bungalows that can be found in the Kenwood neighborhood really reflect the history of St Petersburg Florida, as their construction coincides with the city's first big growth. It was in the 1920s that tourism started to become a top local industry, and it continues to be a major industry to this day. Visitors from the colder northern states have been flocking to St Petersburg for decades now, seeking out the warm sun and the spectacular area beaches. St Petersburg boasts around 360 sunny days every year, which definitely has a lot to do with the fact that tourism is so big here. One of the city's top tourist attractions boasts quite a history of its own, and you won't want to miss it when in town.
The St Petersburg Pier can be found at the end of 2nd Avenue N.E., and it has long been a renowned downtown landmark. Originally built back in 1889, the Pier in St Petersburg served as a railroad pier in its younger days. Over time, the Pier underwent numerous renovations. Today, it boasts a five-story inverted pyramid design that is among its major calling cards. While the St Petersburg Pier has changed its appearance on numerous occasions, it has never changed its identity as a popular local amenity. There is a small museum at the Pier, and it offers insight into the structure's history. For a more comprehensive look at St Petersburg Florida history, a visit to the St Petersburg Museum of History will be in order. You can find this excellent history museum south of the Pier at 335 Second Avenue NE.
St Petersburg Florida history is definitely interesting, and learning all about it at the Museum of History upon your arrival to the city is recommended. While visiting the beaches on Pinellas County's west coast, you can also learn about the history of the barrier islands at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum in St Pete Beach. The building that houses the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum was originally the first church to be built on the barrier islands of Pinellas County.
Image: City of St. Petersburg