The St. Petersburg Pier, simply called "The Pier"
by locals, over looks Tampa Bay and is known for its five-story inverted pyramid shape. This major tourist destination in downtown St. Petersburg
has a wide range of activities to be enjoyed including: fishing, boat rentals, weekly festivals, and the pier aquarium. You'll also find fine shopping
opportunities and wonderful dining experiences, as well as a fabulous nightlife. This Florida Pier
is unlike any other.
Since The Pier is a short drive from Tampa
, it continues to be a centerpiece of St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront, with five stories of shopping, dining and spectacular views of the City and Bay. Visitors will find over a dozen specialty shops, galleries and boutiques, four sit-down waterfront restaurants and the Dockside Eatery food court.
One of the main attractions at the Pier is The Pier Aquarium
. The Pier Aquarium is a private, non profit aquarium and marine education science center, featuring live creatures from Tampa Bay and around the world. There is a 'Touch Tank' open daily with a fish feeding once a day. You can see an educational video about the waters around Florida
and actually hear the sounds in the sea through the mobile hydrophone installed underneath The Pier.
You can fish from the pier, feed the pelicans or enjoy a wide variety of outdoor water and land adventures. There is also a 'beach' area on one side, which is small, but you can spread out a towel and enjoy the Bay. The Pier is open, rain or shine, 365 days a year and hosts over 300 events annually, including those old favorite community dances.
History of The Pier
In 1889, three years before the city of St. Petersburg was incorporated in 1892, the Orange Belt Railway built the first pier called the Railroad Pier. This pier was privately owned and became an instant attraction for both locals and tourists.
In 1906, the famous Electric Pier, called that because of its dramatic night lighting, was built on Second Avenue North. This pier was also privately owned and extended 3,000 feet into the bay. It was demolished in 1914.
That same year, the first Municipal Pier was built on Second Avenue North, as well a mere 10 feet from the north side of the Electric Pier. A hurricane hit in 1921, destroying all the standing piers and severely crippling the then eight-year-old Municipal Pier.
Then in 1925, the Million Dollar Pier dream became a reality. The plan was that the new pier be built the same spot as the demolished Municipal Pier; it was to be the first city-owned pier in the history of St. Petersburg. Then, on Thanksgiving Day in 1926, with ceremonies attended by more than an estimated 10,000 people, the Million Dollar Pier was dedicated. The building had a Mediterranean-revival casino style that featured a central atrium and an open air ballroom, as well as an observation deck. For years to come, the Pier would be a gathering place perfect for card games, tourist meetings, community events and fishing tournaments. It was such a popular destination that the trolley tracks from downtown came into the casino and the trolleys were parked under the portico. In 1967, the badly deteriorated, 40-year-old building was demolished.
While the present day pier was under construction, a park was created, which can still be enjoyed there to this day. The current Pier opened its doors in January of 1973, and is still owned by the City of St. Petersburg, while the inverted pyramid pier has become a landmark all of it's own.
The Pier has been through many changes over the years, but one thing holds true to this day; it is and will always be a landmark, defining the down town area of the city of St. Petersburg.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com