Information on St. Petersburg
One day visits to St. Petersburg and the surrounding area attractions will
leave you wanting more. There is more.
There are six museums in St. Petersburg alone, including the Florida
International Museum (a Smithsonian Institution affiliate) and the Florida
Holocaust Museum, the fourth largest in the United States.
The Museum of Fine Arts recently hosted the Chihuly exhibit which has lead
to Dale Chihuly opening an exclusive gallery in St. Petersburg in 2008. The
Salvador Dali Museum will soon be a new facility adjacent to the newly
finished Mahaffey Theatre in downtown St. Petersburg.
Our central west coast Florida location makes it easy to go beyond St.
Petersburg and explore. Visit our nearest neighbor, Tampa -- a city with its
own identity and cultural pulse. There are theme parks, zoos and additional
shopping centers for added experience. From downtown, Busch Gardens-Tampa
Bay and the Lowry Park Zoo are just 30-40 minutes away in Tampa.
St. Petersburg is well regarded for its beaches. In 2005, Fort Desoto was
rated the number one beach in America by the annual Dr. Beach rankings. TripAdvisor
also has the beach ranked number one in the nation for 2008. Also
noted for its arts community, St. Petersburg regularly places top 25 in the
nation among arts destinations. Recently, St. Petersburg has
become known and regarded as one of America's most livable cities.
A Brief History
The city was co-founded by John C. Williams, formerly of Detroit, Michigan,
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
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 birthplace, 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.
The city's first major industry was born in 1899 when Henry W. Hibbs, 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 a thousand pounds
of fish each day. Dredging of a deeper shipping channel from 1906 to 1910s
improved the port facilities. By then the city's population had quadrupled
In 1914, airplane service across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Tampa and
back was initiated, generally considered the first commercial airline. The
company name was the "St. Petersburg–Tampa Airboat Line" and the pilot was
Tony Jannus, flying a Benoist XIV flying boat.
The city population continued to multiply during the twentieth century.
Booming in the 1940s and 50s with the advent of air-conditioning and through
the 1970s as the town became a popular retirement destination for Americans
from mid-western cities, reaching 238,647 in the 1980 census.