Wednesday, July 16, 2008

St. Petersburg Pier

The St. Petersburg Pier has long fascinated me. Growing up nearby, I remember visiting the famed local hangout and tourist attraction with my mom. But this was the 70s, and the pier had been remade into its current iteration as an inverted pyramid. Only while flipping through postcards at a local antique shop did I discover the older "Million Dollar Pier," which had been built in 1926 and demolished a year before I was born.

The old pier was a St. Pete landmark known for its natural and artificial attractions. Quoting the back of one card: "Recreation Pier, jutting one mile out into tropical St. Petersburg Bay, is daily visited by thousands of winter visitors who delight in feeding the long billed Pelican, watching trim sailing yachts and cruisers ply over mirrored surfaces, airplane and seaplanes humming overhead. In the background is portion of the St. Petersburg Hotel and shopping center skyline."

Hundreds of postcards featuring the pier were produced, many depicting it as a mooring spot for ships and even occasionally as a backdrop for dirigibles.

Quoting from the back of another card: "A wonderful $1,000,000 attraction extending half a mile out into Tampa Bay, open to the public without cost, providing a pleasant promenade, parking space for 1,000 cars, fishing balconies. Containing a mammoth convention and dance auditorium, the radio station WSUN, extensive space for picnics, bridge parties, etc. There are up-to-date Novelty and Gift Shops for all Souvenir Hunters."

Have you any memories of the old pier? Post a comment! What was it like to dance in the auditorium? What was the vibe in the casino? How did you feel when the tore the place down in 1967? Please share your recollections below.

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