St. Petersburg is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. As of the 2013 census estimate, the population was 249,688, making St. Petersburg the 4th most populous city in the state of Florida and the largest city in Florida that is not a county seat (the city of Clearwater is the county seat). St. Petersburg is the second largest city in the Tampa Bay Area, after Tampa, composed of roughly 2.8 million residents, making it the second largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the state. It is also a popular vacation destination for both American and foreign tourists.
The city is often referred to by locals as St. Pete. Neighboring St. Pete Beach formally shortened its name in 1994 after a vote by its residents. St. Petersburg is governed by a mayor and city council.
The city is located on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is connected to mainland Florida to the north; with the city of Tampa to the east by causeways and bridges across Tampa Bay; and to Bradenton in the south by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (Interstate 275), which traverses the mouth of the bay. It is also served by Interstates 175 and 375, which branch off I-275 into the southern and northern areas of downtown respectively. The Gandy Bridge, conceived by George Gandy and opened in 1924, was the first causeway to be built across Tampa Bay, connecting St. Petersburg and Tampa cities without a circuitous 43-mile (69 km) trip around the bay through Oldsmar.
With an average of some 361 days of sunshine each year, and a Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine (768 days), it is nicknamed "The Sunshine City". Due to its good weather and low cost of living, the city has long been a popular retirement destination, although in recent years the population has moved in a much more youthful direction. American Style magazine ranked St. Petersburg its top mid-size city in 2011, citing its "vibrant" arts scene.
|City of St. Petersburg|
Downtown St. Petersburg in August 2008
|Nickname(s): "St. Pete"; "Florida's Sunshine City"|
|Motto: "Always in Season"|
Location in Pinellas County and the state of Florida
The city was co-founded by John C. Williams, formerly of Detroit, who purchased the land in 1876, and by Peter Demens, who was instrumental in bringing the terminus of a railroad there in 1888. St. Petersburg was incorporated on February 29, 1892, when it had a population of only some 300 people.
It was named after Saint Petersburg, Russia, where Peter Demens had spent half of his youth. A local legend says that John C. Williams and Peter Demens flipped a coin to see who would have the honor of naming the city. Peter Demens won and named the city after his home, while John C. Williams named the first hotel after his birthplace, Detroit (a hotel built by Demens). The Detroit Hotel still exists downtown, but has been turned into a condominium. The oldest running hotels are the historic Pier Hotel, built in 1921, formally Hotel Cordova and The Heritage Hotel, built in 1926.
Philadelphia publisher F. A. Davis turned on St. Petersburg's first electrical service in 1897 and its first trolley service in 1904. The city's first major industry was born in 1899 when Henry W. Hibbs (1862–1942), a native of Newport, North Carolina, established his wholesale fish business at the end of the railroad pier, which extended out to the shipping channel. Within a year, Hibbs Fish Company was shipping more than 1,000 pounds (450 kg) of fish each day.
Dredging of a deeper shipping channel from 1906 to 1908 opened St. Petersburg to larger shipping. Further dredging improved the port facilities through the 1910s. By then the city's population had quadrupled to 4,127.
In 1914, airplane service across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Tampa and back was initiated, generally considered the first scheduled commercial airline flight. The company name was the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, and the pilot was Tony Jannus, flying a Benoist XIV flying boat. The Tony Jannus Award is presented annually for outstanding achievement in the airline industry. Jannus Live, a local music/entertainment venue on Central Avenue in downtown, is also named after him.
The city population continued to multiply during the 20th century, booming in the 1940s and 1950s and through the 1970s as the town became a popular retirement destination for Americans from midwestern cities, reaching 238,647 in the 1980 census. By that time, however, the population had levelled off, and has grown by only 10,000 since then. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the population of the city dropped by approximately 4000 residents, while in the same period the population of Florida increased by over two and a half million residents.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 137.6 square miles (356.4 km2). 61.7 square miles (159.9 km2) of it is land, and 75.9 square miles (196.5 km2) of it (55.13%) is water.
Downtown St. Petersburg is the Central Business District, containing high rises for office use, most notably the tallest building in the city, One Progress Plaza. The Tampa Bay Times newspaper is headquartered in the downtown area.ThePoynter Institute, which owns the paper, is located on 3rd Street S.
The Mahaffey Theater complex, the Morean Arts Center, dozens of other art galleries, Haslam's Bookstore, The Coliseum, Palladium Theatre, and Jannus Landing are among the galleries and cultural venues featured downtown. Several prominent museums are located in the perimeter. Many of them have received notable accolades, including the Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Salvador Dali Museum, theFlorida International Museum, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, and the Florida Holocaust Museum. The city hosts many outdoor festivals throughout the year.
St. Petersburg's downtown has been rated among the best in the South. The area's beaches are a 10-mile (16 km) drive from downtown. Jutting a half mile into the bay was the St. Petersburg Pier, a major tourist attraction that offered various activities. The St. Petersburg Pier is currently closed until a replacement is chosen and built. Several proposals for a replacement design were considered and the lens design which was chosen by the International Design Competition Jury and accepted by City Council later had its contract terminated by a citywide election during the Summer of 2013.Downtown also contains the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and a downtown branch of St. Petersburg College. The downtown perimeter includes several parks, most of which are waterfront or lakefront. Straub Park is nearly a half mile long, boasts a waterfront location, and is home of the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. The Vinoy Park Hotel has a bayfront location, a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, and an AAA Four-Diamond rating. It fronts Vinoy Park, which holds music festivals, including the Warped Tour. Nearby is the historic Tramor Cafeteria building, now part of the St. Petersburg Times. The city is connected via the Looper Trolley.
Most of the dining and nightlife can be found downtown on or near Central Avenue or Beach Drive along the waterfront. Venues include Jannus Live and the State Theatre. The active nightlife scene is credited to recent demographic and regulatory changes. In 2010, the city council voted to extend bar hours until 3 A.M., identical to cross-bay "rival" Tampa.
Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, is located in the western part of downtown. Until 2008, the team played its spring training games at nearby Progress Energy Park. This setup was unique, making St. Petersburg the first city that played host to its baseball team during spring training as well as the regular season since the 1919 Philadelphia Athletics. At the end of 2007, there was a debate over a new stadium to be built on the downtown waterfront at the current Progress Energy Park site. This new ballpark would have an overhead sail to cool game-time temperatures and catch rain. Tropicana Field would be demolished and replaced with prime residential and retail space. Completion of the stadium was planned for 2012; however, the proposal has been tabled indefinitely while a community-based organization investigates all alternatives for new stadium construction.
The Wikimedia Foundation had been located in downtown St. Petersburg since its founding by Jimmy Wales. On September 25, 2007, the Foundation announced its move in late 2007 from St. Petersburg to the San Francisco Bay Area.
St. Petersburg has the third-largest dedicated public waterfront park system in North America, with a waterfront park system that stretches 7 miles (11 km) and is used year round for public events, festivals and other activities. In the early 20th century, citizens and city leaders engaged in a long and boisterous debate over the future of the young city's waterfront space, with one side advocating for commercial, port and industrial development and the other side advocating for a long-term commitment to parks and public access to the waterfront. The public access and park contingent won the debate when, on Christmas Eve 1909, the city announced the acquisition of the waterfront land that is encompassed by the waterfront park system.
The city is also becoming one of the largest destinations in Florida for kiteboarding with locations such as Ft. De Soto Park,Pass-a-Grille, and Ten-Cent. St. Petersburg locals such as Billy Parker and Alex Fox have gained a reputation for being some of the best kiteboarders in the world.
The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club was established in 1924 and gained attention as the "World's Largest Shuffleboard Club" with 110 courts and over 5,000 members in the 1950s and 1960s.