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St. Petersburg: Recreation

St. Petersburg: Recreation

Sightseeing

The center of St. Petersburg's tourist life is The Pier, five stories of shopping, restaurants, galleries, live musical entertainment, an aquarium, an art gallery, and a Children's Hands on Museum, right on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg. The observation platform at the end of The Pier, which juts 2,400 feet into Tampa Bay, provides a panoramic view of the city. During the winter months, a replica of the H.M.S. Bounty is docked. At the Sunken Gardens, a city-owned park, thousands of plants and flowers bloom on four acres that also contain a tropical forest, butterfly garden, trails, waterways, and flamingos. Weedon Island Preserve occupies 3,164 acres of historic parkland featuring a boardwalk, hiking trails, and a 45-foot high observation tower. Close to St. Petersburg, the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores has one of the world's few "hospitals" for injured pelicans, seagulls, and other shorebirds and seabirds.

Fort De Soto Park, with a beach ranked among the top ten in the country, stretches across five islands (or keys) at the south end of the peninsula. Open from sunrise to sunset, the park offers opportunities for bird watching, picnicking, swimming, biking, fishing, in-line skating, and camping on 900 acres on the Gulf of Mexico. The actual fort, on Mullet Key, was intended for coastal defense during the Spanish-American War, but construction was not completed until after hostilities ended. The guns at Fort De Soto, facing south, have never been fired in battle.

On the south side of the city, Boyd Hill Nature Park is a precious oasis245 acres of unspoiled landwith over 3 miles of trails and boardwalks that lead visitors through hardwood hammocks, sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, willow marsh, and lakeshore. On the other side of town, 400-acre Sawgrass Lake Park offers a one-mile elevated nature trail through marshland. Private operators offer boat tours on waterways around and through the city.

Docked in international waters just off the Port of St. Petersburg is the Ocean Jewel, a 450-foot-long gaming ship. The ship, which opened for business in October 2004, features eight decks of blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, sports book, and slot machines, as well as nightly entertainment and dining. Shuttles to and from the mainland are provided at no cost.

Arts and Culture

St. Petersburg citizensboth retirees and younger residentsare active in community theater and musical groups. While the city has a full year-round arts calendar, many of the nationally known touring shows and acts visit in the winter at the height of the tourist season. More than 800 events are scheduled yearly for 9 million downtown visitors. The American Stage Company, a professional not-for-profit organization, presents a variety of productions in addition to its annual "American Stage in the Park" offerings. Other theater groups include the St. Petersburg Little Theatre, Florida's oldest continually-operated community theater, and the Palladium Theater, a restored movie house, that presents a varied venue of music and comedy events. The nationally known Florida Orchestra performs classics and pop favorites at the Mahaffey Theater, bringing in guest performers and conductors in addition to its own musicians. The Bayfront Center hosts traveling ice shows and dance troupes, and popular musical entertainers, circuses, and sporting events.

St. Petersburg boasts the world's largest collection of the works of the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali. In a dramatic waterfront setting, Dali's sculptures, paintings, and other works, dating from 1914 forward, are discussed during regularly scheduled tours at the Salvador Dali Museum. The Florida International Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute that spans one-half of a city block, welcomes traveling blockbuster cultural exhibitions. Recent exhibitions include the The Cuban Missile Crisis, A Century of Jewels and Gems 17851885, and DIANA: A Celebration, a tribute to the personal and public life of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, with apparel, paintings, letters, film footage, and funeral memorabilia on loan from the Althorp Estate in England, the Spencer family's ancestral home. The St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, the only comprehensive art collection on the state's west coast, owns more than 4,000 pieces of European, American, Oriental, and pre-Columbian art, including works by Cezanne, Gauguin, and Renoir.

The St. Petersburg Museum of History features exhibits of Florida and St. Petersburg history and a Flight #1 wing housing a full-scale replica of the historic "Benoist" Airboat, which flew the world's first scheduled commercial airline trip in 1914. Great Expectations, situated adjacent to the Sunken Gardens, is a children's museum featuring a variety of hands-on exhibits. The Florida Holocaust Museum, located in the Tampa Bay area, honors the memory of the millions of innocent men, women, and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. Exhibits include artifacts, memorabilia, letters by camp prisoners, and an original boxcar from Nazi-occupied Poland.

Nearby, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a working aquarium that serves to educate the public as well as rescue, treat, and release sick or injured whales, dolphins, otters, and sea turtles. Visitors can observe the treatment and care of these animals, view sharks and fish in their underwater environment, and touch stingrays, starfish, sea urchins, and sea turtle shells. The Science Center of Pinellas County, located in St. Petersburg, offers seven acres of exhibits, many hands-on, as well as a planetarium, observatory, 600-gallon marine touch tank, adoptable animal room, Laser Odyssey Theater, and exhibits relating to Native American and African American pioneers. The planetarium and observatory at St. Petersburg College presents star shows from September through April.

Festivals and Holidays

St. Petersburg celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. each January in one of the nation's largest civic parades and festival of bands. The following months brings the Festival of Speed, featuring exotic cars, boats, and bikes from the past 100 years. The International Folk Fair Festival is the biggest event in March. This three-day event celebrates the many cultures in the area with entertainment, demonstrations, crafts, and cuisines from 40 different countries. Other events in March include the Cajun/Zydeco Crawfish Festival, with 10,000 pounds of crawfish and Cajun, Creole, and Louisiana cuisine; the Abilities Wine & Food Festival, offering premium wines, gourmet food, and hundreds of silent auction items; the Festival of the Sun, a beach fest with reggae music and food; and the Butterfly Festival & Plant Sale, held at the Sunken Gardens.

Spring also brings the Festival of States, a decades-long tradition of parades, fireworks, music, and bicycle races. An Easter Egg Hunt is held each year, as is the Mainsail Arts Festival, considered one of the best fine art shows in the nation. Earth Day and Arbor Day are celebrated with the Green Thumb Festival, which features tree and plant sales, a plant diagnostic clinic, flower shows, and a children's plant fair. Teens enjoy Pierfest, a two-day event of extreme alternative sports, skateboard and wakeboard competitions, and rock music held at The Pier.

Food is the theme of several June events, including Taste of Pinellas, an annual food and music festival with the fare of more than 60 restaurants, and Real Men Cook, a Father's Day celebration that began in Chicago in 1989 and is now celebrated in a dozen cities around the nation. The Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival celebrates the islands' traditional food and Soca, Calypso, and Reggae music. American Stage Shakespeare in the Park presents the works of Shakespeare at Demen's Landing by the city's professional theater group. The Pier hosts an annual Fourth of July Celebration with concerts, activities, and, of course, fireworks.

SnowFest, held in November or December, features Nutcracker in the Park, the Santa parade, a Jingle Bell run, and a lighted boat parade. The annual Holiday Taste & Tour treats visitors to self-guided tours, music, and refreshments in area bed and breakfast inns. The First Night celebration, held on New Year's Eve, offers alcohol-free family activities in dozens of venues throughout downtown St. Petersburg.

Sports for the Spectator

Major League Baseball's (MLB's) Tampa Bay Devil Rays are based in St. Petersburg and play at the city's Tropicana Field. Spring training brings three other MLB teams to the area, the Philadelphia Phillies to Clearwater, the Toronto Blue Jays to Dunedin, and the New York Yankees to Tampa. The MLB Players Alumni Association hosts the Legends of Baseball, the nation's largest old-timers game, in St. Petersburg each year.

World-class auto racing arrived in the city in 2003 with the first annual Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The event takes place over three days in the spring on a waterfront circuit that incorporates part of a runway at Albert Whitted Municipal Airport. The Sunshine Speedway, located near the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport, hosts stock car racing every Saturday night. Greyhound racing is a big draw during the January-to-June season at Derby Lane; more than a million fans flock to the track to watch the races and dine in the Derby Club restaurant. The Tampa Bay Downs, located in Oldsmar, features thoroughbred horse racing from December to March. Each spring brings the Regata del Sol al Sol, an annual 456-mile yacht race from St. Petersburg to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Powerboat racing is the attraction in the St. Petersburg Offshore Super Series held each June, featuring 35-40 powerboats competing on a 5-mile race course.

For sports fans who are willing to travel a short way, Tampa is the home of the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Tampa Bay Storm, a championship arena football team.

Sports for the Participant

St. Petersburg's sunny climate means year-round outdoor activities for the sports-minded. The city boasts that it spends more per capita on its parks and recreation programs than any other city in the country. Anglers can harvest more than 300 species of fish in the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay, and area lakes. Charters are available from boat captains along many piers, but shore-bound fishermen can still try their luck at Fort De Soto Park and The Pier in downtown St. Petersburg. Among the many annual fishing tournaments is the competitive Tarpon Roundup, held every summer from May through July.

The Pinellas Trail runs 45 miles from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg, linking parks, scenic coastal areas, and neighborhoods for bicyclists, pedestrians, and in-line skaters. St. Anthony's Triathlon, one of the nation's top triathlons in terms of prize money, attracts 2,000 athletes who compete each April in swimming, biking, and running events. The city provides 66 public tennis courts, 29 soccer/football fields, 42 baseball/softball fields, and 18 boat ramps. Golf enthusiasts can choose from three municipal courses, including Mangrove Bay Golf Course, which has been named one of the nation's best by Golf for Women magazine. St. Petersburg has 125 parks covering 2,400 acres. Sun bathers can enjoy 8 public pools and 5 public beaches stretching to Clearwater on 35 miles of gleaming white sand. The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club is the world's oldest and largest shuffleboard club, and is the site of the National Shuffleboard Hall of Fame.

Shopping and Dining

St. Petersburg combines shopping opportunities at regional malls and charming downtown settings. University Village, a 60,000-square-foot shopping center located downtown, opened its doors in 2004. Plaza Tower offers 30,000 square feet of retail space, and Tyrone Square Mall, anchored by Burdines, Dillard's, JC Penney, and Sears, features 170 specialty stores. There are more than two dozen art galleries downtown. The city hosts three antique malls: the Antique Exchange Mall, Fourth Street Antique Alley Mall, and Gas Plant Antique Arcade, the largest antique mall in Florida. Stylish Beach Drive has recently been joined by the revived Central Avenue district to offer even more restaurant, shopping, art gallery, and entertainment choices. The Pier nearby offers tropical clothing, shell crafts, and other regional specialties. Nearby Dunedin's restored Main Street offers seafood restaurants, art galleries, and quaint shops.

Dining in St. Petersburg ranges from fresh seafood restaurants with scenic waterfront views to ethnic cuisines from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Favorite local dishes include paella Valenciana, a dish featuring shellfish, chicken, vegetables and rice; smoked local mullett; and locally caught grouper either blackened, baked, broiled, or fried. The greater Suncoast area provides a choice of more than 1,500 restaurants.

Visitor Information: St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 14450 46th St., Ste. 108, Clearwater, FL 33762; telephone (727)464-7200; toll-free 877-352-3224; fax (727)464-7222; email info@floridasbeach.com. St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, 100 2nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701; telephone (727)821-4069

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St. Petersburg: Economy

St. Petersburg: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

St. Petersburg's economy has traditionally been fueled by tourism. More than 4 million visitors flock to the greater Suncoast area annually, generating more than $2 billion in direct revenue. But the city's economy is actually more broad-based. Major growth industries in the metropolitan area include financial services, manufacturing, medical technologies, information technology, and marine sciences.

St. Petersburg's economy is rooted in financial services. Not only does the city and extending area serve as base for many financial companies, these companies in turn stimulate growth in other industries by providing the financial resources for development and expansion. Manufacturing companies are attracted to the region's transportation infrastructure. Pinellas County ranks second in the state for the number of manufacturing employees, and ranks first for the manufacture of such items as computer and office equipment and electronics components. The area's research hospitals make it a logical site for medical technology firms, with more than half of all such companies in Florida's High Tech Corridor based in Pinellas County. Similarly, information technology companies cluster in the region, and downtown St. Petersburg is home to numerous small- and medium-sized software and Web development enterprises. The city's proximity to Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico make it a prime spot for marine science; in fact, it is the largest marine science community in the Southeast. This segment in the economy is augmented by local research facilities, including the Florida Institute for Oceanographic Research and the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science.

Items and goods produced: computer and office equipment, electronics components, industrial and commercial machinery, plastic products, sensors, defense-related products, micro-electronics, lasers, medical devices, printed circuit boards, pharmaceuticals

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The city of St. Petersburg administers various programs to assist business start-up, expansion, and relocation. The Business Retention Program offers consulting services to already existing businesses with an emphasis on the Enterprise Zone adjacent to Tropicana Field. The Business Revolving Loan Fund assists businesses in acquiring or renovating real property, and for the purchase of capital machinery and equipment through loans with flexible terms at below market rates. The city offers tax credits or exemptions for businesses in the Enterprise Zone for material used in rehabilitation projects, business property used in the zone, creation of new jobs, hiring of zone residents, and credits for increased property taxes on improved properties. The city helps manufacturing or industrial plants, health care facilities and public works projects to obtain financing below the conventional borrowing rates through Industrial Revenue Bonds. An incentive program offers reduced taxes to employers who hire target groups of individuals for employment.

State programs

Enterprise Florida is a partnership between Florida's government and business leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. Enterprise Florida's mission is to increase economic opportunities for all Floridians by supporting the creation of quality jobs, a well-trained workforce, and globally competitive businesses. It pursues this mission in cooperation with its statewide network of economic development partners.

Among the incentive programs managed at the state level is the Economic Development Transportation Fund, which provides up to $2 million to fund the cost of transportation projects, such as access roads and road widening, required for the establishment, expansion, or retention of businesses in Florida. The state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund rewards the creation of jobs in certain industries. Florida also offers various sales and use tax exemptions for machinery and equipment purchase, electric energy, research and development, and other aspects of doing business in the area.

Job training programs

WorkNet Pinellas provides employment services to employers and job seekers throughout the county. Among its training services are the Quick Response Training Program, which provides customized employee training grants to new and expanding businesses, and Incumbent Worker Training, which offers customized training to existing companies in need of training for incumbent employees. The Industry Services Training Program provides basic employee training, consulting, and technical assistance through the Pinellas County School Board. The Success Training & Retention Services program extends intensive skills and development training to inexperienced, unemployed, or underemployed job seekers. The HB-1 Technical Skills Training Grant Program was designed to fill the gap in skills between U.S. technology employees and those entering the U.S. workforce via HB-1 visas. The Entrepreneurial Academy provides business training to new business owners or those who are planning to establish a business.

Development Projects

St. Petersburg remains one of the fastest growing regions in Florida, and has been called the "megamarket of the South." Among the top growth areas is the Gateway Region, located in the northeast portion of the city, which was dubbed the "Hottest Business Address" by the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Over the past 20 years, it has grown from 4 companies with 26 employees to 350 companies with 30,000 employees. Recent development projects include a 14-acre expansion of the Home Shopping Network's campus, construction of Carillon Outpatient Center, which is a $37 million expansion by St. Anthony's Hospital, and a 9-story Hilton hotel, which will add more than 200 guest rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The new Brighton Bay development boasts 120 single-family homes, 150 townhomes, and 780 apartments.

Similar commercial, retail, and residential development occurs in other areas of St. Petersburg. All Children's Hospital announced the largest expansion plan in its history, a $270-million project to build a new 8-story hospital and add almost one million square feet of space. The St. Petersburg campus of the University of South Florida plans to create on-campus housing for nearly 750 students within the next 6 years. In 2004 the Poynter Institute for Media Studies nearly doubled its size by adding 26,000 square feet of space. That year also saw the completion of University Village, a 60,000-square-foot shopping center in downtown St. Petersburg.

The city is also dedicated to redeveloping brownfields, areas where environmental contamination exists in the soil, surface water, or ground water. Among the largest redevelopment projects are the Dome Industrial Park, a $1.5 million pilot project that is the first to be undertaken with grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Florida Brownfields program. Atherton Oil and Mercy Hospital are two other redevelopment projects, with a combined clean-up cost of nearly $600,000.

Other development projects are aimed at improving the quality of life for residents. In the early 2000s, the city allocated $325,000 to 33 different neighborhood improvement projects. Pedestrians and bicyclists will benefit from CityTrails, a project that will add 150 miles of new pathways, 38 miles of new sidewalks, and better crosswalks at 81 intersections through 2008. A $2.5 million plan to clean up Lake Maggiore will result in the development of a waterfront park. St. Petersburg established a goal of providing a playground within a half mile of every child in the city. The city is also attempting to secure funds to link U.S. Highway 19 with Interstate 275 to create a north-south corridor through the county.

Economic Development Information: City of St. Petersburg Economic Development Department, Municipal Services Center, One 4th St. N., 9th Fl., PO Box 2842, St. Petersburg, FL, 33731; telephone (727)893-7100; toll-free (800)874-9026; fax (727)892-5465; email business@stpete.org. St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, 100 2nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701; telephone (727)821-4069

Commercial Shipping

Port Tampa and Port Manatee serve Pinellas County's shipping needs. Port Tampa, a crucial link between the United States and Central and South America, is the largest port in the Southeast and the nation's 10th largest by tonnage handled. Port Manatee, one of the state's busiest, is the closest of the area's deepwater ports to the Gulf of Mexico. Both ports provide custom house brokers, freight forwarding, and other services. St. Petersburg also has a port, though it is a "non-operating" port whose shipping activities are managed by the city.

Three airportsTampa International, St. Petersburg/Clearwater International, and Albert Whittedserve the area, with Tampa International Airport being the largest. Through it, Florida's top exports are shipped, including industrial and commercial machinery, computers, optical instruments and lenses, medical and dental equipment, and photographic equipment. Freight is shipped by rail via CSX Corp.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Economic Development Department of the City of St. Petersburg reported in 2005 that the regional workforce numbered more than 1.2 million. This abundant labor pool will only rise, as the region is expected to experience a growth in its population by 15.3 percent over the next 10 years. In 2004, 16 percent of the St. Petersburg workforce was engaged in finance, insurance, and real estate, representing nearly double the figure for the state's workforce as a whole. The city also surpassed Florida in the percentage of workers engaged in manufacturing, with nine percent of the city's workforce so employed.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,225,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

manufacturing: 71,500

trade, transportation and utilities: 216,400

information: 34,700

financial activities: 94,000

professional and business services: 296,700

educational and health services: 142,300

leisure and hospitality: 108,100

other services: 48,200

government: 147,000

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.09 (2003 statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 3.5% (December 2004)

Major private sector employers Number of employees
Home Shopping Network 2,500
Raymond James & Associates, Inc. 2,300
Raytheon E-Systems 2,300
Times Publishing Co. 2,255
Bayfront Medical Center 2,100
All Children's Hospital 2,100
Bright House Networks 2,000
Jabil Circuit Inc. 1,900
Progress Energy, Inc. 1,800
Mortgage Investors Corp. 1,200

Cost of Living

Housing and food costs in St. Petersburg and the rest of the Tampa Bay area are slightly below national averages. Florida home owners do not have to pay taxes on the part of their property that is valued at less than $25,000 under the state's Homestead Exemption law.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the St. Petersburg area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $245,109

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 95.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None for personal; 5.5% for Type C corporations

State sales tax rate: 6.0% on most items

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: 24.3064 mills (2004)

Economic Information: City of St. Petersburg Economic Development Department, Municipal Services Center, One 4th St. N., 9th Fl., PO Box 2842, St. Petersburg, FL, 33731; telephone (727)893-7100; toll-free (800)874-9026; fax (727)892-5465; email business@stpete.org

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St. Petersburg: History

St. Petersburg: History

Railroad Line Leads to City's Founding

Like much of Florida, the Tampa Bay area had been settled by Native Americans for generations before the first white explorer arrived. The region was visited in 1513 when Ponce de Leon of Spain anchored near Mullet Bay to clean barnacles from his ships. His party was greeted with a violent reception from Timucuan tribe and de Leon retreated. Eight years later, de Leon returned, suffered an arrow wound, and again fled, this time to Cuba, where he died of his injury. A statue of de Leon stands in the city's Waterfront Park today. Seven years after de Leon's disaster, another Spanish explorer, Panfile de Narvaez, landed in St. Petersburg on Good Friday of 1528. He, too, had notoriously bad relations with Native Americans, and following some preliminary explorations, Narvaez died in a storm while leaving the region.

The first modern settler to remain in the area was John Constantine Williams of Detroit, Michigan, where his father was the first mayor. Williams, like many who would come after him, moved to Florida for his health. An asthma sufferer, Williams bought thousands of acres in St. Petersburg, but lived in Tampa until an 1887 yellow fever epidemic there drove him across the bay.

Williams transferred part of his land to Russian exile Peter Demens and in return Demens extended his Orange Belt Railroad from Sanford, Florida, west to Tarpon Springs and then south along the Gulf coast to Williams's settlement. As part of the deal, Williams agreed to let the railway man name the settlement. Demens called it St. Petersburg after his Russian birthplace. When the railroad made its first run in 1888, the population of St. Petersburg numbered 30 people. Even with the new rail line, the population reached only 273 people two years later. Williams, who died in 1892, the same year St. Petersburg was incorporated, built the first big resort in the city at the corner of Central Avenue and Second Street. Called The Detroit, the hotel still stands today.

Tourism soon followed. By 1909, the first direct train arrived from New York City. The next year, Lew Brown, publisher of The Independent newspaper, began his tradition of giving away that day's papers anytime the sun didn't appeara promise that was kept until the paper closed in the 1980s. Giveaways averaged just four a year, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest stretch of sunshine was 768 days in a row.

Early Baseball Days

Professional baseball's spring training had first come to Florida as early as 1888 in Jacksonville, but it was civic boosters in St. Petersburg who made "Grapefruit League" action an institution. The city's first game was played on February 27, 1914. The hosting St. Louis Browns lost to the Chicago Cubs, who were training in Tampa and made the trip by steamboat across Tampa Bay. Al Lang, a former Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, launderer, moved to St. Petersburg in 1909 and soon became mayor. Lang, a baseball fan, enticed the Philadelphia Phillies to St. Petersburg in 1915. When Philadelphia got off to a rousing start back north for the regular season, St. Petersburg's good spring weather got much of the credit. City leaders later named their baseball stadium after Lang.

Real Estate Boom Collapses

Improved roads, increased automobile travel, and the search for warm weather helped make St. Petersburg one of the first Florida cities to live through the real estate boom of the 1920s. The city counted 14 residents in 1920 and 50,000 residents just five years later. The boom years left a legacy of landmarks built in the Mediterranean Revival style that today remain as a graceful reminder of the city's past.

But the first boom didn't last. By the Great Depression of the 1930s, all nine of the city's banks had collapsed, script was used instead of U.S. currency, and the population dropped back down to 40,000 people. Signs posted at the edge of the city warned newcomers against moving in.

On New Year's Day in 1914, commercial aviation was inaugurated in St. Petersburg, or, more precisely, in the waters just offshore. Pilot Tony Jannus flew a lone passenger (St. Petersburg's mayor), who had paid $400 for the honor, from the yacht basin in St. Petersburg to the foot of Lee Street in Tampa. The flight, on the wooden airboat "Benoist," took 23 minutes, and 3,000 spectators cheered its arrival. The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line survived for a year before interest flagged.

Foul weather has altered the area on several occasions. In 1843, four decades before the Detroiter Williams arrived, Antonio Maximo set up a fishing camp at the southernmost tip of the Pinellas peninsula. But five years later, a hurricane wiped out his holdings and Maximo disappeared. Much later, the hurricane of 1921 brought 106-mile-per-hour winds and more than 6 inches of rain in one 24-hour period, washing ships up to a half mile inland. The city's main pier was destroyed.

Modern Development Extends to Gulf Beaches

Despite these weather-related problems, development continued. Ten major hotels were built in the first half of the 1920s. More important, bridges were extended to the Gulf beaches, which are separated from St. Petersburg proper by the Intracoastal Waterway. Then, in late 1924, the Gandy Bridge, connecting St. Petersburg to Tampa, was opened, eliminating dependence on unreliable ferry schedules or what could be a day-long train ride around Tampa Bay to the city of Tampa. When tourist-dependent St. Petersburg suffered because of gas rationing during World War II, the U.S. Air Corps filled the void by stationing many of its troops in the area's big hotels. The resorts returned to civilian use after the war. During the post-war years, a second bridge spanning Tampa Bay was added, and the Sunshine Skyway linking St. Petersburg to communities to the south was built.

In the 1960s the city moved to shift its image from a retirement haven to a prime spot for investment and business growth. Besides tourism, the fields of health care, manufacturing, high technology, marine sciences, and electronics were emerging to lead St. Petersburg into its future.

Following two nights of civil disturbances in October-November 1996, St. Petersburg united as a community and vowed to change the way it does business in the inner city by creating jobs, improving education, increasing property values, and reducing crime. In 2000 the National League of Cities awarded the city's efforts with its top award for promoting cultural diversity. Today's St. Petersburg thrives on its popularity with tourists and its flourishing economy.

Historical Information: St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 N. 2nd Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33701; telephone (727)894-1052; email info@stpetemuseumofhistory.org

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St. Petersburg: Education and Research

St. Petersburg: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Pinellas Public Schools is a county-wide system comprised of traditional public schools as well as several types of specialty schools. Seven fundamental elementary and middle schools emphasize parental involvement, daily homework assignments, and strict discipline. Magnet schools are special schools with programs geared toward academically and artistically talented students. Career academies offer high school instruction in academic subjects based on such industries or occupations as veterinary science, automobiles, architecture, and business technology. The district also has five charter schools, one in the city of St. Petersburg, that operate under a contractual agreement with the local school board.

The following is a summary of data regarding Pinellas County public schools as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: more than 113,000

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 88

junior high/middle schools: 28

senior high schools: 22

other: 6 exceptional schools; 6 adult schools

Student/teacher ratio: 29:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $31,100

maximum: $55,900

Funding per pupil: $5,895

More than one hundred private and parochial schools serve the county.

Public Schools Information: Pinellas County Schools, 301 4th St. SW, Largo, FL 33770; telephone (727)586-1818

Colleges and Universities

Eckerd College, Florida's only private national liberal arts college, offers work-study and overseas programs and bachelor's degrees. The highly regarded Stetson University College of Law, known as Florida's first law school, maintains its campus in St. Petersburg. The University of South Florida (USF), with a campus in St. Petersburg, is known for the Knight Oceanographic Research Center and its programs in marine science, accounting, management information science, medicine, and psychology. The St. Petersburg College, formerly the state's oldest 2-year college, is now a 4-year college enrolling 28,000 students, and is one of the nation's leaders in number of associate degrees awarded. St. Petersburg is also home to the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a journalism school that also owns the Times Publishing Company, publisher of the St. Petersburg Times.

Libraries and Research Centers

The St. Petersburg Public Library System contains nearly a half million general subject titles, plus special collections of Florida history, genealogy, more than one thousand periodical subscriptions, and back issues of local newspapers. In addition to the Main Library, there are 5 branches throughout the city, and the resources of 14 municipalities participating in the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative are available to residents. Special libraries and collections include the St. Petersburg Museum of History archives and the Florida State Department of Natural Resources marine research library. The University of South Florida (USF) is home to the Knight Oceanographic Research Center, which is a collaborative effort of Florida public and private universities and conducts research in such fields as ocean currents, endangered species, beach erosion, water quality, tourism, and shipping. The U.S. Center for Coastal Geology and Regional Studies is located on the USF campus. The Tampa Bay Research Institute, which studies viruses and molecular genetics, is also located in the city.

Public Library Information: St. Petersburg Public Library System, 280 5th St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701; telephone (727)893-7736

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St. Petersburg: Population Profile

St. Petersburg: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 1,614,000

1990: 2,067,959

2000: 2,395,997

Percent change, 19902000: 15.8%

U.S. rank in 1980: 22nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 21st

U.S. rank in 2000: 20th

City Residents

1980: 238,647

1990: 240,318

2000: 248,232

2003 estimate: 247,610

Percent change, 19902000: 3.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 58th

U.S. rank in 1990: 65th (State rank: 4th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 79th (State rank: 4th)

Density: 4,163.1 people per square mile (based on 2000 land area)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 177,133

Black or African American: 55,502

American Indian and Alaska Native: 769

Asian: 6,640

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 130

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 10,502

Other: 2,661

Percent of residents born in state: 36% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 14,123

Population 5 to 9 years old: 15,337

Population 10 to 14 years old: 15,382

Population 15 to 19 years old: 14,127

Population 20 to 24 years old: 13,677

Population 25 to 34 years old: 34,152

Population 35 to 44 years old: 40,887

Population 45 to 54 years old: 34,617

Population 55 to 59 years old: 12,269

Population 60 to 64 years old: 10,488

Population 65 to 74 years old: 20,202

Population 75 to 84 years old: 15,958

Population 85 years and older: 7,013

Median age: 39.3 years

Births (Pinellas County, 2003)

Total number: 9,225

Deaths (Pinellas County, 2003)

Total number: 12,049 (of which, 72 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $21,107

Median household income: $34,597

Total households: 109,608

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 12,090

$10,000 to $14,999: 8,536

$15,000 to $24,999: 17,685

$25,000 to $34,999: 17,032

$35,000 to $49,999: 18,978

$50,000 to $74,999: 18,489

$75,000 to $99,999: 8,458

$100,000 to $149,999: 5,183

$150,000 to $199,999: 1,430

$200,000 or more: 1,727

Percent of families below poverty level: 9.2% (39.7% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years old)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 20,914

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St. Petersburg: Communications

St. Petersburg: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The Pulitzer Prize-winning St. Petersburg Times, a morning paper, is frequently ranked as one of the top ten newspapers in the country. Pinellas County also has its own edition of the Tampa Tribune. Florida Trend magazine, a monthly publication circulated statewide, focuses on business and finance in the state.

Television and Radio

Two television stations broadcast from St. Petersburg, an independent station and the CBS affiliate. Six other stations operate from Tampa and Clearwater, including network affiliates, two public stations, and the nationwide Home Shopping Network. Cable television is available to residential subscribers. Four FM and four AM radio stations are based in St. Petersburg, with other stations serving the area from Tampa, Clearwater, and Sarasota.

Media Information: St. Petersburg Times, 490 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, FL 33701; telephone (727)893-8111. Tampa Tribune, (Pinellas Edition), PO Box 191, Tampa, FL 33601; telephone (813)259-7711

St. Petersburg Online

City of St. Petersburg home page. Available www.ci.saint-petersburg.fl.us or www.stpete.org

Economic Development Department, City of St. Petersburg. Available http://stpeteshines.stpete.org

Pinellas County Schools. Available www.pinellas.k12.fl.us

St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Available www.stpete.com

St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.floridasbeach.com

St. Petersburg Museum of History. Available www.stpetemuseumofhistory.org

St. Petersburg Public Library System. Available http://st-petersburg-library.org

St. Petersburg Times. Available www.sptimes.com

Tampa Tribune. Available www.tampatrib.com

Selected Bibliography

Arsenault, Raymond, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 18881950 (Norfolk: University Press of Florida, 1996)

Ayers, R. Wayne, St. Petersburg: The Sunshine City (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2001)

Rooks, Sandra W., St. Petersburg Florida (Black America Series) (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003)

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St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg: Introduction
St. Petersburg: Geography and Climate
St. Petersburg: History
St. Petersburg: Population Profile
St. Petersburg: Municipal Government
St. Petersburg: Economy
St. Petersburg: Education and Research
St. Petersburg: Health Care
St. Petersburg: Recreation
St. Petersburg: Convention Facilities
St. Petersburg: Transportation
St. Petersburg: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1887 (incorporated 1893)

Head Official: Mayor Rick Baker (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 238,647

1990: 240,318

2000: 248,232

2003 estimate: 247,610

Percent change, 19902000: 3.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 58th

U.S. rank in 1990: 65th (State rank: 4th)

U.S. rank in 2000: 79th (State rank: 4th)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 1,614,000

1990: 2,067,959

2000: 2,395,997

Percent change, 19902000: 15.8%

U.S. rank in 1980: 22nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 21st

U.S. rank in 2000: 20th

Area: 60 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 60 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 73.1° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 44.77 inches

Major Economic Sectors: tourism, financial services, manufacturing, medical technology, information technology, marine sciences

Unemployment rate: 3.5% (December 2004)

Per Capita Income: $21,107 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 20,914

Major Colleges and Universities: University of South Florida, St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College, Stetson University College of Law

Daily Newspapers: St. Petersburg Times; Tampa Tribune, Pinellas Edition

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St. Petersburg: Transportation

St. Petersburg: Transportation

Approaching the City

The St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, close to the beaches, carries approximately one million commercial passengers each year. The Albert Whitted Airport, situated on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg, serves corporate aircraft, private pilots, and helicopters. Most visitors arrive at the larger Tampa International Airport, a 30- to 45-minute drive away. CSX Corp. provides rail service to St. Petersburg, and the Port of Tampa accommodates international cruise ships.

Most drivers to St. Petersburg pass through Tampa and over Tampa Bay. Interstate 275, which runs through the city, connects to both interstates 4 and 75 in Tampa. U.S. 19 connects St. Petersburg to the rest of Pinellas County to the north. The Sunshine Skyway bridge, at the terminus of Interstate 275, spans the mouth of Tampa Bay to join St. Petersburg with Manatee County, including the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton to the south.

Traveling in the City

St. Petersburg is laid out in an easy-to-navigate grid pattern with streets running north to south and avenues running east to west. Interstate 275 and U.S. 19 are the two major northsouth arteries. Central Avenue cuts through downtown and runs out to the beaches on the Gulf coast. Public bus transportation is operated by Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. Sightseers may use Gray Line Sightseeing Tours and First Class Coach Company.

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St. Petersburg: Geography and Climate

St. Petersburg: Geography and Climate

St. Petersburg is situated on the Pinellas Peninsula in southernmost Pinellas County. It is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and Tampa Bay to the east. To the north, the city borders Clearwater. The 345 miles of shoreline around the peninsula include the resort communities of Clearwater Beach, Dunedin, Indian Rocks Beach, Redington/Belleair Beach, Madeira Beach, St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, and Treasure Island. The Sunshine Skyway bridge spans Tampa Bay to connect St. Petersburg with Manatee County to the south. More than 20 barrier islands buffer the Pinellas Peninsula from the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a calm surf ideal for family water activities. The area's semitropical climate includes the summer thunderstorm season running from June through September, with frequent afternoon rains. St. Petersburg also claims the third highest relative humidity in the country at 70 percent, a figure it shares with neighboring Tampa. Nevertheless, the city boasts an average 361 days of sunshine per year.

Area: 60 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Sea level to 60 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January 61.3° F; August 82.7° F; annual average 73.1° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 44.77 inches

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Saint Petersburg (city, United States)

Saint Petersburg, city (1990 pop. 238,629), Pinellas co., W Fla., on Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico at the southern end of the Pinellas peninsula; settled in the mid-1800s, inc. 1892. A port with a large harbor, it is one of the state's most popular winter resorts and year-round residential communities. It is also one of Florida's largest retirement centers. Because of its annual average of 360 sunny days, St. Petersburg is called the Sunshine City. Manufactures include boats, trailers and campers, air conditioners, and electronic equipment. The city also has citrus-fruit and commercial-fishing industries. Among places of interest are the yacht basin, the municipal pier, historical and fine arts museums, and the Bayfront Center, all on the waterfront; the Sunken Gardens; and the Florida International and Salvador Dalí museums. Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, the Stetson Univ. College of Law, and a campus of the Univ. of South Florida are there, as well as an international airport and a U.S. Coast Guard base. Bridges cross the bay to Tampa and the Sunshine Skyway links the peninsula with the mainland near Bradenton. The chain of narrow islands and resort beaches to the west of St. Petersburg on the Gulf are connected by several causeways.

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St. Petersburg: Convention Facilities

St. Petersburg: Convention Facilities

The St. Petersburg area offers 5 large halls totaling nearly 300,000 square feet of convention space. They are Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg's largest venue), Bayfront Center and Mahaffey Theater, Harborview Center and Ruth Eckerd Hall (both in Clearwater), and The Coliseum (a historic 1924 setting). St. Petersburg's resort hotels, both large and small, can handle conventions, meetings, and other events, with five housing a large amount of meeting space; St. Petersburg Bayfront Hilton and the Renaissance Vinoy Resort have the largest single meeting rooms, measuring 7,221 and 6,724 square feet, respectively. Unusual settings for meetings and receptions include beaches, museums, and cruise ships.

Convention Information: St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 14450 46th St., Ste. 108, Clearwater, FL 33762; telephone (727)464-7200; toll-free 877-352-3224; fax (727)464-7222; email info@floridas beach.com

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St. Petersburg: Health Care

St. Petersburg: Health Care

The hospital industry is one of Pinellas County's largest employers. The city of St. Petersburg has seven major hospitals, including Bayfront Medical Center and St. Anthony's. St. Anthony's Hospital, located downtown, is one of only two facilities in the nation with a vascular rehabilitation program. Both Bayfront and All Children's hospitals are teaching centers affiliated with the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa; together they operate a joint cardiac surgical program. USF and All Children's jointly operate a pediatric medical research facility, which seeks to solve the mysteries of illnesses in children. Palms of Pasadena Hospital, known for its Continent Ostomy Center, also specializes in treating infertility. Other major medical centers include Edward White Hospital, Northside Hospital and Heart Institute, St. Petersburg General, Vencor Hospital, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Bay Pines.

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St. Petersburg: Introduction

St. Petersburg: Introduction

St. Petersburg is a city so confident of its good weather that one of the local papers had a long tradition of giving away that day's edition anytime the sun didn't shine. Surrounded by water and beaches on three sides, the city has drawn generations of winter sun seekersmany of whom return permanently. St. Petersburg has a booming local economy, especially in tourism, health care, manufacturing, and high technology. And "St. Pete," as it is frequently referred to, was the birthplace of spring training for several major league baseball teams in 1914; today Tropicana Field is home to the region's own team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Part of the larger Tampa Bay area that also includes the major cities of Tampa and Clearwater, St. Petersburg is connected directly to a string of small Gulf of Mexico beach communities across the Intracoastal Waterway.

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St. Petersburg: Municipal Government

St. Petersburg: Municipal Government

St. Petersburg has a strong mayor form of government, which combines a mayor with an eight-member elected council. The mayor and council members serve four-year terms. The mayor is responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the city, while the council looks after city policy, city budget, and mayoral appointments of other city officials.

Head Official: Mayor Rick Baker (since 2001; current term expires 2006)

Total Number of City Employees: 3,628 (2003)

City Information: City of St. Petersburg, 175 5th St. N., PO Box 2842, St. Petersburg, FL 33731; telephone (727)893-7171; email council@stpete.org

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