St. Petersburg Pier
The St. Petersburg Pier, known locally as The Pier, is a landmark and tourist destination extending into Tampa Bay from downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. The Pier features a five-story inverted pyramid-shaped building. Constructed in 1973, it was designed by St. Petersburg architect William B. Harvard, Sr.. May 31, 2013 was the last official day for the public to visit the pier. The City of St. Petersburg, Florida had planned to demolish and replace it, until a voter referndum rejected the new Lens pier design.
Before its closure, activities and sights offered at the pier included shopping, dining, nightlife, fishing, boat rentals, weekly festivals, and the Pier Aquarium. The aquarium was located on the second floor. A branch of Ybor City's Columbia Restaurant was on the fourth floor and Cha Cha Coconuts Tropical Bar and Grill on the fifth floor. The first floor included a Concierge Center, specialty shops and galleries, Waterside Grill & Bar, and the Dockside Eatery food court with burgers, pizza, ice cream and Chinese. Local bands were featured in Courtyard by the Bay every Sunday afternoon.
In a straw-poll vote (5-3) after a two-hour workshop on August 18, 2010, the St. Petersburg City Council accepted Mayor Bill Foster's recommendation to demolish the current Pier. A binding vote, 7–1, was taken at an August 26 meeting. On January 20, 2012, the St. Petersburg Pier International Design Competition Jury unanimously selected Michael Maltzan Architecture's "The Lens" as the design for the new pier, providing computer-generated illustrations of the proposed project on flickr. In September 2012, the city applied to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to demolish the pier. Approval will take 6 to 12 months. On August 27, 2013 St. Petersburg residents voted to cancel the city's contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture for the Lens pier design.
The Pier's origins date 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, three years prior to 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.
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. George Snow Hill painted a picture of pier goers at the Million Dollar Pier in St. Pete City Hall.
By 1967 the Million Dollar Pier was demolished. The site was vacant for many years until the current structure was built in 1973. The inverted pyramid-shaped building 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 panoramic views of Tampa Bay and a larger top floor and observation deck.
On March 20, 1976, the city dedicated a laser sculpture by Rockne Krebs entitled Starboard Home on the Range, Part VI The sculpture was a featuring a green laser beam from the Pier directed towards downtown St. Petersburg, reflecting to the Pier several times with mirrors, finally reflecting out to Tampa Bay. When ongoing technical problems with cooling the laser engine caused repeated dysfunction, the laser sculpture was shut down.
A significant amount of footage was filmed in and around the Pier for the second and third season of the mid-1990s television series seaQuest DSV.
The Pier was shown prominently on the cover of local zombie anthology, Zombie St. Pete. This is a short story collection featuring fictional zombie attacks in the St. Petersburg city. The Pier also held the Zombie St. Pete book release party on February 27, 2010.
On June 17, 1922, 18-year old Dorothy MacLatchie was killed by a "monster fish" while floating next to the Municipal Pier, St. Petersburg, Florida. While some reports indicate her death was caused by a shark, newspaper accounts indicate her death was caused by a barracuda.
Plans for a new pier
A campaign to stop the destruction of the existing pier and prevent the lens design from replacing it was called for a referendum. One issue with the Lens design is its plans for a visible reef. Scientists have concluded that visibility in the Tampa Bay make that part of the proposed design plan unrealistic.
- About.com: Tampa Bay
- The New York Times Travel Guide to St. Petersburg: Frommer's Review of The Pier
- The secret power of Bill Harvard The Floridian September 9, 1973 St. Petersburg Times
- AOL Local City's Best guide
- "St. Petersburg Pier International Design Competition" city web site
- The New St. Petersburg Pier Concept "The Lens" city flickr page
- "St. Petersburg applies for permit to demolish Pier" Tampa Bay Times, Saturday, September 8, 2012
- St. Petersburg: Foster and Kriseman headed to runoff, voters reject the Lens
- The Pier's official website
- Experts restore WWII-era mural in St. Petersburg City Hall December 20, 2013 St. Petersburg Tribuen
- St. Petersburg Pier Advisory Task Force Design Subcommittee Meeting Minutes, Monday, August 17, 2009, 3:30 p.m.
- Final design proposals for the St Petersburg Pier design competition
- Despite controversy Michael Maltzan Architecture's Lens will go on
- Official website
- Website opposing the Pier's demolition
- Website opposing the New Pier Plan - The Lens
- city web site - "New Pier Plan - The Lens"
- "The Lens - NEW St. Pete Pier Website"
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