Williams Park is in St. Petersburg, Florida, United States. It is the city's first park and encompasses an entire city block between 4th and 3rd Streets North and between 2nd and 1st Avenues North. Founded in 1888 and originally named "City Park," it was changed to Williams Park in honor of the founder of St. Petersburg, John Constantine Williams Sr.
The park is the center of the downtown business district and has been the venue for numerous political and civic rallies and celebrations for more than one hundred years. In 1964, Richard Nixon used the bandstand to speak to a large group gathered in the park on behalf of then presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Many downtown workers flock to the park in good weather for picnics during their lunch breaks. At one time, the park was surrounded by prestigious department and retail stores. In the past 25 years, most of them have moved away to malls and other areas away from the city center.
The bandstand plays a prominent role in the park and one has been there since 1894. The modern bandstand in the park was designed in 1954 by St. Petersburg architect William B. Harvard, whose work also includes the St. Pete Pier. In 1955 it was the recipient of the Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects It is used for outdoor concerts during the noon hour and on weekends, but for groups which tend to attract smaller crowds.
Williams Park is also known as the city's homeless park. Local residents, college students and shoppers no longer stroll the sidewalks or lounge on the landscaped lawn. Ongoing drug sweeps and police activity are now the features that mar this once prominent gathering place.
- Pitper Castillo Band shell still inspires chorus of debate, pride November 14, 1994 page 6 City Times section, St. Petersburg Times
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