Gulfport is a city in Pinellas County,Florida, bordering St. Petersburg and Boca Ciega Bay. The population of Gulfport was 12,029 at the 2010 census.Gulfport is part of theTampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, the 19th largest MSA in the country.
The town was originally named Disston City in 1884 when Hamilton Disston purchased land in the area. The United States Postal Service would not recognize the name as it conflicted with a town in Hillsborough County. Instead, it was named Bonifacio. In 1890, the town name was changed to Veteran City. In 1910, the name officially changed to Gulfport.
Gulfport is distinguished by its high concentration of artisans inspired by the intense light and tropical scenery. A celebration the first Friday and third Saturday of each month calledArt Walk attracts locals and tourists. Many street performers, artists, and craftspeople show up to create a relaxed cultured atmosphere in the warm balmy evening breezes coming off the beach at the end of the street.
"Old Florida" is a phrase often evoked in describing Gulfport's waterfront district, with its mix of small-scale cottages and small independent shops, restaurants and other businesses, situated among mature oak trees and brick-paved streets. Gulfport's recognition as a primary dining destination in Tampa Bay is exemplified by the proximity of over a dozen restaurants within walking distance along a few blocks on or near Beach Boulevard.
Tuesdays are Fresh Market days in the Gulfport Waterfront district from 9 am to 3 pm, on Beach Blvd. The Fresh Market showcases fresh produce, cheese, seafood, honey, nuts, baked goods, plants, art and crafts, and local entertainment. The Fresh Market is a year-round event.
Annual festivals include "Get Rescued in Gulfport" on the fourth Saturday of February, a charitable street festival featuring pet rescue organizations from throughout the region, vendors of pet products and demonstrations. SpringFest occurs on the fourth Saturday of March and involves a day devoted to local artists, crafters, live music and more. The July 4th celebration includes a parade, vendors, live music, and a fireworks production staged at Williams Pier on the waterfront. Gecko Fest happens on Saturday of each Labor Day weekend and is the largest street festival of the year, including street performers, live music on multiple stages, and food, art and craft vendors.
The Catherine A. Hickman Theater of Gulfport is located on Beach Boulevard at 26th Avenue South and is a venue for live theatrical performances. The nearby Gulfport Senior Center offers activities throughout the week for residents within and outside of the city limits.
The Gulfport Casino Ballroom, located on the waterfront, is one of the main event venues in the city. The Casino hosts Swing, Latin, Argentine Tango, and Ballroom Dance events five days a week with a large turnout from all across the Tampa area. The venue is available for rent to the public and is popular for weddings, company functions, and holiday parties. The ballroom features a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) authentic 1930s style dance floor.
Adjacent to the Casino, Gulfport Beach offers an attractive swath of sand on Boca Ciega Bay for swimming, sunbathing and family gatherings. Beach pavilions, a bocce ball course, a playground, and a jogging circle near the Recreation Center offer amenities for all ages. Teams assemble nearby for beach volleyball, while others enjoy picnics with tots on park swings.
In 2011 Gulfport was named a finalist by Rand McNally for best food town in the U.S.
Location in Pinellas County and the state of Florida
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2). 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2) of it is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) of it (26.30%) is water.
Public education is provided by Pinellas County Schools. Gulfport has two public schools, Boca Ciega High School and Gulfport Elementary School. The closest middle school to Gulfport is Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School, located in St. Petersburg.
Gulfport Elementary was the first Montessori school in Pinellas County.
The Gulfport Public Library is located on Beach Boulevard, not far from the Gulfport Multi-Purpose Senior Center and the Catherine Hickman Theater. It is a member of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, which facilitates inter-library borrowing of materials in the county.
St. Petersburg College, a state college, has multiple campuses in the county and is available for those who aspire to a college degree. In addition, the city of St. Petersburg has a campus of the University of South Florida.
Stetson University College of Law, founded in 1900, is located in Gulfport (having moved there in 1954 from its original location in DeLand). Its tower is one of the best-known images to locals and has become an iconic part of the skyline.