Monday, May 27, 2013

The Pier ... Unique and Beautiful

Walked to the Pier downtown in St. Pete. For those who don't know the history

 ... The Pier's origins date back to 1889, when the Orange Belt Railway constructed the Railroad Pier on Tampa Bay as a railway-accessible sightseeing and recreational resort for locals and tourists. This was done three years before St. Petersburg’s incorporation as a city in 1892. The Railroad Pier's immediate success led to its replacement in 1906 with the Electric Pier, which extended 3,000 feet into the bay and awed visitors and spectators with its highly dramatic night lighting.

The Electric Pier, in turn, was replaced in 1914 by the Municipal Pier, which was so heavily damaged by the Hurricane of 1921 that the city of St. Petersburg appropriated a $1 million bond for a new structure. This was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day in 1926 as the Million Dollar Pier, a Mediterranean-style casino that included an observation deck, an open-air ballroom, and a spacious interior atrium for card games and community events. The building's entrance portico was later enclosed as WSUN-TV’s studios, from which "Captain Mac" broadcast his children’s show in the 1950s.

By 1967, the Million Dollar Pier was so decrepit it was demolished, and its site was vacant for many years until the current structure was built in 1973. It was designed by William B. Harvard Sr., founder of Harvard Jolly architectural firm in St. Petersburg, with a tubular steel framework to create large windows for full panoramic views of Tampa Bay, and an inverted pyramid form for a larger top floor and observation deck.

Now it's set for demolition. There's another design called the Lens that will apparently take its place but there are protestors who want it to stay.

We love the Pier.

There are so many great memories that we have. I have fished off the side, eaten at the Columbia, drank with friends at Cha Cha Coconuts,

We have fed the pelicans that sit grandly atop the pilings, we have strolled around the approach, saw the laser show (note: Rockne Krebs created a laser sculpture that reflected with mirrors back and forth to the Pier. It never operated for more than a month ... but when it was on, it was pretty cool).

The first floor has special memories for Debbie and I. It was the setting for Holiday Pageantry, a Christmas tree celebration that benefitted All Children's Hospital, Jr. League and Dream Fund. The trees were sponsored decorated and sold by community volunteers. Deb, not yet my wife, and Dennie were Jr. League coordinators and co-chairs. (They were dubbed Evil and Good Twin ... yes, Deb was Good Twin. Sorry Den ... what's in a name?).
The Pier Aquarium was on the second floor and these tubes filled with fish reached up from the lobby.

This place, Just Hats, has been there for years. Giving them a shout out.

The Pier Trolley runs up and down the approach.

Fishermen are everywhere.
People power.
Great parties!

The new design has critics. I have to admit ... I am one.

Better hurry ... visit this week. It may be gone soon.


Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this, Joel. Very nice.

Children tear down the monuments their parents built, the grandkids lament the loss.

joel said...

@Lin ... Glad you liked the post. I'm right there with you !

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