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Shaping the dream

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Title:
Shaping the dream a survey of post-World War II St. Petersburg, 1946-1963
Physical Description:
Book
Language:
English
Creator:
Wilson, Jon L
Publisher:
University of South Florida
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Subdivisions
Population
Skyway
Downtown
Plaza
Dissertations, Academic -- Humanities -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
Genre:
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
ABSTRACT: St. Petersburg stood on the cusp of great change in 1946. Returning veterans sought jobs and housing, and St. Petersburg experienced its first major growth era since the real estate boom of the 1920s. The decade of the 1950s saw the city's population leap from 96,738 to 181,298, an 87 percent increase driven by boosters and national publicity about the city's leisurely ambience. Tract houses replaced remaining pockets of pasture and pine trees as subdivisions sprawled toward the city limits and beyond. On fertile truck-farming acreage called Goose Pond, developers built Central Plaza, a shopping center positioned to drain business energy from an aging downtown. Space-age industry brought light manufacturing to supplement traditional economic bases. The Sunshine Skyway opened in 1954 and less than a year later, road builders completed U.S. 19 through St. Petersburg, providing more economic advantages. Civil Rights advances shook Jim Crow, as African Americans sued to integrate swimming venues and challenged "red lines" defining where people of color could live and open businesses. Television began opening new horizons and changing leisure habits as air conditioning brought residents a new dimension of indoor comfort. City leaders reaching for a dynamic civic image worried about the city's reputation as a haven for the elderly, but education leaders ordered three new high schools built to serve the burgeoning white student population. The mid-century boom revived an optimistic spirit while raising issues such as land use, the downtown's future, and race relations against a backdrop of cultural change and the search for civic identity. As reflected in articles, interviews, reports, and manuscripts, St. Petersburg began redefining itself for the twentieth century's second half. This study surveys, describes, and analyzes the transformative events.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Jon L. Wilson.
General Note:
Title from PDF of title page.
General Note:
Document formatted into pages; contains 141 pages.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002068374
oclc - 606877342
usfldc doi - E14-SFE0003139
usfldc handle - e14.3139
System ID:
SFS0027455:00001


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Shaping the Dream: A Survey of Post World War II St. Petersburg, 1946 1963 by Jon L. Wilson A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts Department of Humanities College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Co Major Professor: Raymond O. Arsenault Ph.D. Co Major Professor: Gary R. Mormino Ph.D. Timothy N. Clemmons, M.Arch. Date of Approval: October 26, 2009 Keywords: subdivisions, population, skyway, downtown, plaza Copyright 2009 Jon L. Wilson

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i Table of Contents Abstract ii Introduction 1 Chapter One: The Old Time Magic 10 Shadows in the Sunshine 1 6 A Successful Formula 2 5 Chapter Two: A Bridge a Road, a Plaza 28 Spans Across the Bay 30 The Missing L ink 38 From Marsh to Merchandise 42 Chapter Three: Palmetto, Pastures, P e ople 55 Acres of Houses 56 Segregated subdivisions 61 Land from water 65 New Industrial Might 72 Chapter Four: Downtown Dead or Alive 78 The Man with the Plan 8 5 Integration on the Horizon 8 8 Urban Renewal or Not 95 Chap ter Five: Changes in Attitudes 101 Out with the Old 103 From the Ames Brothers to Elvis 108 118 Jim Cr ow Begins to Fade 122 Conclusions 130 Bibliography 139

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ii Sha ping the Dream: A Survey of Post World War II St. Petersburg, 1946 1963 Jon L. Wilson ABSTRACT St. Petersburg stood on the cusp of great change in 1946. Returning veterans sought jobs and housing, and St. Petersburg experienced its first major growth era since the real estate boom of the 1920s. The decade of the 1950s saw t from 96,738 to 181,298, an 87 percent increase driven by boosters and national publicity and pine trees as subdivisions sprawled toward the ci ty limits and beyond. On fertile truck farming acreage called Goose Pond, developers built Central Plaza, a shopping center positioned to drain business energy from an aging downtown. Space age industry brought light manufacturing to supplement traditional economic bases. The Sunshine Skyway opened in 1954 and less than a year later, road builders completed U.S. 19 through St. Petersburg, providing more economic advantages. Civil Rights advances shook Jim Crow, as African Americans sued to integrate swimmin g venues and Television began opening new horizons and changing leisure habits as air conditioning brought residents a new dimension of indoor comfort. City leaders reach ing for a education leaders ordered three new high schools built to serve the burgeoning white student population. The mid century boom revived an optimistic spirit whi le raising

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iii cultural change and the search for civic identity. As reflected in articles, interviews, reports, and manuscripts, St. Petersburg began redefining itself fo second half. This study surveys, describes, and analyzes the transformative events.

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1 Introduction Charles Eloshway, a World War II serviceman bound for the Maritime Training February day in 1942. Fresh from Pennsylvania coal country, Eloshway had left behind a winter storm and temperatures reeling below freezing. 1 When the train pulled up, t here were all these young women prancing around . I was impressed T hey were all dressed in white T hat was summer wear for Pennsylvania That was my very 2 War or no war, Eloshway could see better times ahead. So, too, could others in St. Petersburg. As early as 1943, as the nation operated on full war footing and hopefu l sighted residents suspected their pleasant, little city stood on the cusp of dramatic growth. The influential St. Petersburg Times for a population surge some thought might soar as high as 500,000. 3 The visions of prescient leaders began coming true soon after World War II keep pace with deve Times editorial recognizing the first surges 1 St. Petersburg Times 2 Charles Eloshway interview by Jon Wilson about post World War II St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, January 13, 2009 3 St. Petersburg Times All Plan? We Offer Some Suggestions Nov ember 28, 1943, 6.

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2 dramatic postwar growth; the issues attendant to rapid change; and the transformation transformatio n in civic philosophy that came with new technologies, a strengthening civil rights movement, a fledgling suburban subculture, rapid demographic change, and 1963, with emphasis on the 1950s. 4 It argues that the most important events during this period were the Sunshine building of Central Plaza, the first regional shopping center in the area and the first major own. Coming within a three year span, 1952 expansion and prosperity. All were staunchly supported by business leaders and the informal power structure that included elected city officials, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, and the highly influential St. Petersburg Times Their purpose was to make St. Petersburg a prosperous, dynamic city, and few, if any serious opponents emerged to challenge that vision. Resources utilized inc lude books both popular and academic, periodicals, newspapers, films, government documents, theses and dissertations, maps, city directories, memoranda, photographs, personal interviews, and period ephemera. The St. Petersburg Times weighed heavily in the research because the newspaper and its leaders played an influential role in virtually every aspect of the postwar dynamic; the newspaper was also the most consistently reliable primary source. The years under study are nearly identical to those of the so called Baby Boom Era, but reflect this construct only 4 St. Petersburg Times Dec ember 28, 1950 6.

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3 coincidentally. They were selected as bookend representatives of postwar St. Petersburg because 1946 saw the first wave of new residents looking for a fresh start after the traumas of war and economic d epression; 1963 saw the end of the Atlantic Coast Railroad service downtown, a departure of great symbolic magnitude in addition to being a practical step that city fathers believed necessary to improve the original city center and keep it relevant to the rest of St. Petersburg. this work to mean a structure that included elected policy makers and their administrators, business leaders, and the St. Petersburg Times which taken together represented a power elite. While recognizing that personifying a city treads on dangerous among this power elite St. Petersburg entered 1946 in an enviable position. An advantageous wartime economic boost emerged when the United States government sent 100,000 servicemen to train in the St. Petersburg sunshine. Even more visited from military bases in Tampa, Lakeland and other nearby locations. They filled tourist hotels that otherwise would have remained virtually empty. They spent money, and as Charles Eloshway did, formed an attachment to Florida that eventually helped lift St. Petersburg to its first wholly sangu ine era since the real estate boom of the 1920s. 5 Newly discharged GIs chased their St. Petersburg dream, as newcomers had done Veterans in need of housing had several paths Newspaper advertisements lured 5 Walter Fuller, St. Petersburg and Its People (St. Petersburg: Great Outdoors Publishing Co., 1972), 198.

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4 and monthly payments of $35. City government helped by making available 595 free lots in several sections of the city all were tax deli nquent and available for white veterans. Many of the lots were in Rio Vista, a north St. Petersburg subdivision that had languished since the 1920s. A few more were available for African American veterans in segregated, black neighborhoods. White vetera n Lawrence H. Durant, a city bus driver, became one of the first newcomers, buying in 1946 a two bedroom Rio Vista concrete block dwelling for $7,000. The purchase symbolized the beginning of a new chapter in St. Petersburg history. 6 The narrative would play out until 1963, when the last Atlantic Coast Line passenger train left downtown at funereal speed, ending 75 years of service that introduced St. Petersburg to hundreds of thousands of eager tourists, anxious new residents, and finally, wide eyed GIs. immediate post busiest homebuilding decade before or s ince. Retiree affluence, the affordable housing in life reputation drove the new wave. 7 Substan tial growth was nothing new. Barely a half century old when the United States entered World War II, St. Petersburg already had breezed through a series of 6 St. Petersburg Times March 6, 1946, 11 ; Times March 10, 1946, 14. 7 St. Petersburg Times June 2, 1963, 1; Raymond O. Arsenault, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream 1888 1950 (Norfolk/Virgin ia Beach, Va: The Donning Co., 1988), 308.

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5 population increases. Incorporation in 1892 followed arrival of the railroad four years earlier. Effe ctive promotion soon began to lure visitors and permanent residents, and as the twentieth century dawned, the waterfront village was beginning to earn a reputation as a resort. A few economic surges brought the permanent population to 14,000 by 1920, and t 1 940, 60,812 residents including 11,982 segregated African Americans made St. largest city behind Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa. 8 Given its history of steady population increases, its available room to expand (in 1943, continued growth appeared certain, despite several obvious environmental drawbacks. B hold it back; nor did they often take note of yet unconquered swarms of mosquitoes. 9 of t he black population. A 1945 report by sociologist Warren M. Banner declared that St. Petersburg fell far short of providing African Americans equal facilities and opportunities. As the national civil rights movement gained momentum, traditional segregation ruled St. Petersburg, even as black people and white people remained 8 Numerous authors have told the early St. Petersburg story, among them Arsenault, Fuller, and Karl H. Grismer, the latter in The Story of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg: P.K. Smith and Co. ,1948). 9 Harland Bartholomew 1943, 9.

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6 precincts meant that roads, water, and sanitation services would have to keep up. A growing popul ation that included both retirees and younger families required diverse needs. Newly m uscular suburban vitality relevance and economic viability. Leaders struggled to put forth a dynamic city image as national media pai nted contradictory pictures of St. Petersburg: Was it a sun splashed Eden or a decrepit haven for the elderly? 10 Another riddle, this one unspoken and unanswered, was: Given its inherent contradictions, did St. Petersburg have, or could it develop, a sense of place as a source of civic strength? Barely a half century removed from its frontier days, the city yearned to and concrete block houses shouldered natural, half wil d settings. New arrivals from the much smaller percentage of longtime residents. A Southern city in some ways, St. Petersburg nonetheless lacked the characteristics that regionalist scholar Robert L. the ties of kinship, religion, and aristocracy. 11 If such abstractions proved elusive, leaders had no problem in articulating ambitious, tangible goals to improve the city City manager Ross Windom wasted no opportunity to get postwar civic objectives in print or talk about them in public forums. Most important were building the bridge across lower Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Manatee County and bringing the Gulf Coast Highway U.S. 19 through the city. 10 St. Petersburg Times June 6, 1929, 6 11 St. Petersburg Times July 2, 1956, 6; Robe rt L. Dorman, Revolt of the Provinces: The Regionalist Movement in America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 48.

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7 Other projects deemed imperative included railroad track removal, an auditorium, a new hospital, library, and police station, street and sewer improvements, conversion of public transportation from streetcars to buses, and better schools. Some leaders, particularly the editors of the Times and Evening Independent pushed for slum clearance and improved conditions for African Americans. 12 hither attitude suggesting that restless Americans could find the good life in the Sunshine City the sobriquet itself a succinct, tried and true promotional motif. An ironic, even amusing duality teased image makers. New houses went up at the rate of twelve per day and space age industry moved in, but horses continued to run loose on major roads. In wooded pockets inside city limits, lawmen broke up moonshine stills. Business l eaders and the media took the colorful inconsistencies in stride. They saw St. Petersburg as a product, selling the Sunshine City image as a way to attract new industry, new residents, and waves of tourists eager to escape the frigid North. Chapter II loo ks at three elements that played the dominant role in St. and the opening of the Sunshine Skyway. Central Plaza became the linchpin and symbol of new St. Petersburg. It provided a prototype study in land use, environmental considerations, competing business interests, and urban planning. Within three years of Petersburg, bringing the ci ty a new main thoroughfare, and the Sunshine Skyway spanned lower Tampa Bay for a direct link to South Florida. 12 Next Half Centur St. Petersburg Times January 1, 1950, 18.

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8 While these elements were extremely important, subdivision proliferation became of new industry with transplanted employees helped drive the housing boom. Chapter III examines those phenomena, along with emergent issues such as dredge and fill turning water into land for development. This chapter identifies major residential develo pers, discusses the preponderant architectural style and typical price structures of new tract housing, and addresses the subtropical comfort measures of air conditioning and mosquito eradication. The chapter also discusses a proposed, new subdivision for African Americans, which but durable, tradition of segregation. As the growing population sprawled in all directions and encouraged establishment of new commerce cen ters in far downtown entered a period of uncertainty. Except for a department store and the addition of another motion picture theater, virtually no downtown development emerged to add a modern dimension or provide new consumer attractions. Still, the old city core remained far from dead, as proven by frequent traffic jams, competition for scarce parking spaces, and seasonal events that drew hundreds of thousands. A few visionaries urged an pdating but would their vo ices be persuasive? Chapter IV looks at a downtown past its prime in a changing world; and it discusses the nearby African American neighborhoods, further exploring the phenomenon of segregation. For example, while its demise remained distant, Jim Crow fell into decline as civil rights activists sued to open previously segregated public spaces and picketers called attention to the whites only

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9 policies of movie theaters and lunch counters. Image ma kers, stung when media and St. Petersburg as younger and more energetic. Television changed leisure habits, at least those of residents affluent enough to afford t he new medium. Despite its reputation as a retirement community, a surprisingly active youth culture emerged from the era of the Ames Brothers into the edgier realms of Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues. cal changes and determine how well leaders met goals for the city after 1945. It will examine the progress of the civil rights eighteen years after the end of World War II and consider the degree to which city image from that of a retirement center to a more youthful locale. It will look at challenges still unfolding at the end of the immediate postwar period, such as racial integration and the future of the old city center, and it will loping sense of place: Was it Eden or just another Sunbelt city?

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10 Chapter One: The Old Time Magic Nestled among a stack of silver dollars, 18 year old Pat Seavers showed off her smile, her legs, and her bare shoulders. She was posing for a three column, eight inch deep photograph that appeared atop the main local page of the St. Petersburg Times on Nov ember 17, 1955. The image represented more than a stunt photo pu blished for a The people who devised the photo had called police to escort $30,000 in coins, which three local manufacturers said they would use to meet their payrolls fo r the week. Photographer Bob Moreland framed Pat Seavers as the flesh and blood cash conveyor. Chamber of Commerce officials, county commissioners, and a United States congressman took part in the ploy. Publicists, the newspaper reported, wanted to demonst public to accept the idea of new manufacturing as reinforcement to what always had been a tourist and agricultural economy; a serving of cheesecake seemed to them an appropriate profile subtext: St. Petersburg had charm, youth, and vitality. It offered a good life that all were invited to enjoy. 13 The publicity splash represented classic St. Petersburg strategy: U se infinite 13 St. Petersburg Times November 17, 1955, 2 1.

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11 Sr., the diligent Chamber of Commerce manager. The reliable, old magic was conjuring a new era. St. Petersburg was booming again. 14 By November 1955, St. Petersburg already was several years into its dramatic post since the speculator dri ven land was 13 9 ,000 a forty percent increase over the federal census figure of 96, 738 recorded just five years earlier. Developers such as James Rosati, Sidney Colen, and the Florida Builders pa sectors Every day, hammers echoed and concrete blocks clinked into place as work crews raised new tract housing in what had been pasture and pine stands. Construction in all of Pinellas C ounty was at an all time high. To sell the new homes, want ads cried for real estate sales people no experience needed. 15 S elling real estate was the quintessential St. Petersburg activity, and the and ensure prosperity. To be sure, business leaders hoping to add economic muscle were wooing industry to augment the traditional underpin ning of tourism But the pitch sang the same song to manufacturers, retirees, or families: Come enjoy fun in the sun, and articles about segregated slums, haphazard planning, and growing discomfort with the Accenting the positive, after all, was the advertising theme that always had brought people and their money to St. Petersburg. In the nineteenth century, railroad 14 St. Petersburg Times Jan uary 13, 1964, 1 B. 15 Arsenault,195 196; Fuller, 200 202; (Richmond, Va.: R.L. Polk and Co. Publishers, 1955), 14.

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12 pioneer Pete r Demens and land baron Hamilton Disston extolled sun and sea to attract affluent tourists and fulltime residents. Dr. Washington Chew Van Bibber, a Baltimore physician who counted Abraham Lincoln among his patients, spoke to the American Medical Associati on in 1885, declaring the climate and general geography of what would become St. Petersburg to be life giving, a blessing, a cure all. The doctor, historians revealed decades later, had a hidden item on his agenda: He owned property on what he widely label ed the healthiest spot in the world. 16 life in the sun. Newspapers quickly took up the cry in the twentieth century. Early St. Petersburg Independent editor Lew B. Bro wn decided to provide a free edition whenever the sun failed to shine; from 1910 on, an average of less than (five) s W.L Straub, leader of the rival Times ordered a standing head to be placed on the -president of the Board of T rade, Straub oversaw in 1913 a mass advertising campaign to distribute and mail 50,000 copies of a 16 page, illustrated booklet charm. 17 employee of the Board of Trade -a Chamber of Commerce forerunner -and later of the city government. The former Ohio sportswriter held the jobs for a combined 24 years and i s credited with garnering millions of dollars of free publicity for St. Petersburg in 16 Arsenault, 52 53. 17 collecti on.

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13 magazines, news papers, and films. Early in his career, Lodwick worked closely with Mayor Frank Fortune Pulver, another avid booster. With his own money, Pulver bought full page advertisements in northern newspapers to boast about St. Petersburg. 18 After he became Times editor in 1939, Nelson Poynter liked to say that one of the nation in the world. Typical were a half dozen editorials published during November 1955 that bra gged about the city, called attention to its amenities, or boosted the goals of attracting more residents and luring new businesses. On the same day it granted eye catching coverage of the bathing beauty and the silver dollars, the Times published a lead editorial making it clear that commerce leaders were not seeking old fashioned smokestack and freight industry, but the new kind that Remington Rand, IBM, or Minneapolis Honeywell. The editorial argued that Florida and by extension, St. Petersburg splendidly endowed to create fine settings for more people, more payrolls, and, so it wa s presumed, more and better business. A look at revenue. More subtle than the young woman surrounded by silver dollars, the editorial carried the same tune: Industry is goo d; we like it; so should you, the reader. 19 To read the Times one might get the idea that the entire city was awash with cheery optimism Ev en the daily weather reports featured a cartoon pelican and homespun chitchat, aimed mostly at calling attention to the climate while taking every 18 Arsenault, 186; Grismer, 260, 320. 19 St. Petersburg Times November 17, 1955, 6.

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14 opportunity to point out seasonal snow storms in northern states On a day of expected r type above the main headline, reading boosterism as editors expected visitors to mail copies to friends and relatives up North. 20 R eaders also found editorial page pae ans to suntans, very much in vogue before medical authorities began citing the dangers of too much exposure to unblocked relaxing, a suntan gives us a sun worshippers flock 21 Sometimes the promotional gambits went south as well as north. Paul Davis cruise ship in Guatemala in early November 1955 and were amazed to find copies of the St. Petersburg Times at their hotel doors. The surprise delivery was the work of industrial promoter Jack Bryan, who arranged swift shipping via a South American 22 In yet another arena, the Chamber of Commerce under manager Davenport successf ully prompted the United States Weather Bureau establish a more promising thus making St. Pet 20 St. Petersburg Times November 10, 1955, 21. 21 St. Petersburg Times November 14, 1955, 6. 22 St. Petersburg Times November 10, 1955, 1B.

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15 Times said. The chamber also began pushing for a separate St. Petersburg weather station, possibly to be located atop the First Federal Savings and Loan buildi ng at Fourth Street and Central Avenue downtown. 23 outings or swimming pool parties con ducted during the winter holiday period when much of the rest of the nation froze. But nothing could beat the aggressive, systematic drum beating undertaken by the chamber. Chamber m anager Davenport, in much lower key fashion, was to postwar St. Petersbur g what arch promoter John Lodwick was to the city during the 1920s. During his tenure as manager from 1942 to 1962, Davenport promoted the coming of the Sunshine Skyway, the elimination of Gandy Bridge tolls, and the course of U.S. Highway 19 through the c ity. During his watch, the city government gave the chamber hundreds of thousands of dollars to use for advertising in printed media and on what Davenport called the firs t resort city in the world to use TV as a promotional tool. Crews produced 21 shows in color and with sound; some 160 stations in the U.S., Canada, Cuba, and London aired them and untold numbers of PTA groups and social clubs saw the films in 16mm projec tion 24 23 St. Petersburg Times March 20, 1956, 4. 24

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16 Majo r League Hall of Fame player Honus Wagner greeting Al Lang, a former mayor who anathema to booster folks image. The 1951 film suggested only in passing that the benches were a particular favorite among the elderly; it showed servicemen sitting in ve young Silver Meteor and Orange Blossom Special, vaunted streamliners packed with southbound passengers; the Million Dollar Pier; fishing, picnicking, and dancing in t he sunshine; and, of course, shopping for the perfect retirement home. All the travelogues showed St. Petersburg at its best. Their purpose : to make people see for themselves. 25 Davenport public relations job. In what amounted to effort in perpetual persuasion, Davenport coaxed conventions to come to town, lobbied clean industry executives, agitated for more and better schools, and pushed for summer tourism to complement the winter season. single individual was more closely associated with the many progressive developments Evening Independent 26 Shadows in the Sunshine Official drumbeating and popular portrayals began to create a nas cent sense of place for the postwar city. The concept did not so much involve appreciating history, 25 V 1950. 26 St. Petersburg Evening Independent s January 13, 1964, 9A; January 14, 1964, 6A.

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17 tradition, and kinship as it did valuing leisure recreation, and climate. Because of the weather, one could enjoy life year around. One did not have to sh ovel snow or worry about tire chains. One could relax, get a suntan, look healthy, buy a boat, go fishing, or try water skiing. Such activity represented powerful ideas in a new age of leisure and consumer vitality ideas that veiled a harsher reality. 27 On a personal level, that might mean spending summer nights splayed against a bedroom wall or terrazzo floor in search of a cool surface to alleviate heat and humidity, or cranking jalousie windows wide open in hope of catching a breeze or a welcome hint of a cooling, dawn thunderstorm. A fishing expedition into the bayous might result in a conditioning were not automatically endowed to new residents, and until each became w idely available, more than one neophyte Floridian contemplated a return north after experiencing his or her first summer in the sunshine. On a wider scale, mid twentieth century St. Petersburg was not without its civic problems. The influx of transpla nted Michiganders and New Yorkers meant building more sewers and roads. And the y oung families moving into suburbs often cut from forest s, needed new schools; county public school enrollment jumped every year, for medical care center, reported a bed shortage almost every year Developers were dredging huge swaths of Boca Ciega Bay, using the material to create more land for more h ouses, and in the process, ruining a precious natural resource. 28 27 Among authors addressing leisure and consumerism is David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1993), 506. 28 St. Petersburg Times September 2, 1955

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18 Bobby Barnes, who spent early 1950s summers in the beach communities just west of St. Petersburg, recalled the dre dging in Boca Ciega Bay to create the Isle of Capri in Treasure Island. He remembered water clear as glass and mullet schools so thick they big pumping machines brough 29 Less turbulent and tumultuous than in many southern cities, but ever present, For th e most part, white and black people got along, at least on the surface and p eople of good will of both races reached out in many ways. For example, Rosalie Peck, a black woman, recalled that as a child growing up during the 1930s in a segregated city, she sometimes visited the white Book Store, which was in a white business district where African Americans were not 30 The annual Festi points, showcased marching bands from all black Gibbs High School and Sixteenth Street Junior High. The energetic musicians were popular with white spectators and a source of pride to the black community. Otherwise, the parade was mostly segregated. In 1954, organizers permitted for the first time a float with African American participants. It was sponsored by the Ambassadors, a club comprising professional black men influential in their communi ty On the float were young African American women, including 16 Times November 25, 1955, 40 ; Bruce Stephenson, Visions of Eden: Environmentalism, Urban Planning, and City Building in St. Petersburg, Florida, 1900 1995 (Columbus: Ohio St ate University Press, 1997), 126. 29 Bobby Barnes interview by Jon Wilson about 1950s St. Petersburg, Tampa, February 24, 2009 30 Rosalie Peck interview by Jon Wilson about African American history, St. Petersburg, March 13, 2003.

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19 year old queen Rosa Holmes, crowned at an Ambassador sponsored coronation ball held some of our pretty longtime educator Emanuel Stewart, who coined the Ambassador Club name. Festival out it was fir the woman who was queen. Years later, Rosa Holmes Hopkins recalled that the float was warmly received along the rou 31 Such pleasant episodes were not the norm, nor were occasions such as Louis Twenty s econd Street South, considered the African for a whil e the barriers that kept blacks and whites apart. 32 lay coiled in the shadows; for in a sense, it was not truly just history. African Americans lived with a clear and pre sent knowledge of events that had happened in St. Petersburg, said Rosalie Peck. Men of color had 31 Emanuel Stewart interview by Jon Wilson about the Festival of States Parade, St. Petersburg, March 11, 2002; Rosa Holmes Hopkins interview by Jon Wilson about the Festival of States Parade, St. Petersburg, March 12, 2002. 32 John Breen interview by Jon Wilson about th e Manhattan Casino, June 14, 2002.

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20 been lynched. The Ku Klux Klan tramped through black neighborhoods, attempting to assert white dominance through intimidation. In 1938, white police officers flew out of control and knocked down a respected black educator, Noah Griffin, because of a misunderstanding ab out a venue for an African were not immune from racist mayhem; in 1935, white nightriders kidnapped, pummeled and castrated a white lawyer for seeing a black woman. In 1921, someone blew up an early blacks only movi e theater because it opened too close to a white neighborhood. Twenty seven years later, as St. Petersburg stood poised to enjoy new prosperity and opportunity; more than 200 white residents stormed City Hall to protest expanded housing for blacks into pre viously all white neighborhoods. S eventy five people also signed a petition to the county School Board, saying that a proposed new school on Sixteenth Street South undermine the value of homes asserted. A proposed African American subdivision in far south St. Petersburg was scuttled in 1955. 33 about fourteen percent of the population lived in several segregated neighborhoods, parts of which could be characterized as slums. Their existence troubled downtown boosters. Substandard housi ng for a segment of the population seemed wrong to some of them but the black neighborhoods also happened to be on the edge of downtown. They would not 33 St. Petersburg Evening Independent November 11, 1914, 1; Evening Independent October 9, 1915, 3; Arsenault, 268; Mutilation Evening Ind ependent March 22, 1935, 1 Evening Independent Evening Independent February 17, 1948, 17; St. Petersburg Times November 2, 1947, 45; Peck interview.

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21 be attractive to the new businesses that leaders hoped to attract to a modernized business district. St Petersburg would soon have to confront the necessity of slum clearance or Besides the nagging problem of eyesore housing, the first suggestion of the black civil rights mo vement began to stir the city. In 195 5 one year after the United States Supreme Court ruled segregated schools unconstitutional, six African Americans sued to Blacks could, and did vote. By 1946 there were no white primaries. There was no poll tax. The city was not a voter registration priority for civil rights groups, unlike other parts of the South. B ut the beaches, l unch counters, hotel accommodations, housing, schools, and motion picture the aters remained separate and unequal and all within a few years, would become the object of civil rights activists. Picketing and protests did not create national headlines, as did rights crusades in other Southern cities, but they did create tension in a city where the notion of tranquil ity was sold as part of its appeal. 34 As the city struggled with a racial divide, its leaders also had to recognize an economic gap. While business seemed to be booming, at least for some merchants and trades, few would have considered St. Petersburg a wealthy city, even though the Times photographs, featured several prominent families with a page of coverage discussing their Thank sgiving plans. But a few days earlier, civic activist Thomas Dreier claimed that seventeen percent earned less than $1,000. T he national average was $1,770, according to 34 Numerous accounts cite the case, among them St. Petersburg Times December 20, 1956, 25.

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22 Uni ted States Commerce Department figures. 35 Some of the relatively low personal income could be linked to fixed income retirees and African Americans who worked as domestics, laborers, or other minimum wage d state officials cut off electricity and gas to more than fifty low income white families at a Thirteenth Avenue North trailer park, saying the owner had failed to meet city code requirements. One mother of three young children, whose husband was out of w ork, protested that she could not heat her ideal sunny, good life was not an automatic condition for all St. Petersburg residents; even the 1955 Community Chest drive failed to meet its campaign standard, falling $23,186 short of the $270,893 goal. The disappointing result emerged even after union workers had canvassed the city, with plasterers, press men, electricians, carpenters, telegraphers, and plumbers among the all male labor unions taking part. 36 If inadequate infrastructure, Jim Crow attitudes, and a significant low income a hint of juvenile delinquency and at least eleven deaths in 1955 due to malfunctioning or careless use of boarding house gas appliances ma de St. Petersburg seem even less the utopia chamber leaders liked to tout. Justice of the Peace Edward Silk vowed to campaign for stricter safety codes, and the Times joined to be the victims were elderly. Other older citizens were targeted perhaps not entirely tongue in 35 Allen Morris, Florida Handbook (Tallahassee, Fla. : Peninsular Publishing, 1955) 289; St. Petersburg Times November 12, 1955, 17. 36 St. Petersburg Times November 7, 1955, 16; Times November 18, 1955, 23; Times November 30, 1955, 23.

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23 cheek by a group of youngsters who shot out windows with pellet gun s, dubbing which will stop at nothing to rid the town of St. Petersburg, Florida, of the elderly persons which have tried to inhabit it. We have no respect for age and will strive to reach 37 A Successful Formula The high octane, virtually nonstop promotion worked. To most newcomers, St. ad ones, which in any case, were rarely mentioned. The population surge between 1950 and 1960 provided compelling evidence : St. Petersburg recorded an 87 percent increase, growing from 9 6 738 to 181, 298 The newcomers did n o t blunder in by accident. They were guided, cajoled, and persuaded by calculated promotion, positive media coverage, and word of mouth advertisement. In t he optimistic postwar years people were ready to embrace good news, to believe there was reason that their popular president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, smiled so broadly. After a generation of Depression and war, why not accept the vision that there was such a thing as a really, good life? St. Petersburg seemed to offer it in large quantity. Inflation, industrial strife, and warnings o f a looming recession shadowed the nation in 1946. But by 1955, anyone who liked to make a buck in St. Petersburg had reason to be optimistic as the city approached the midway point of a booming decade. Thanksgiving brought significant indicators of good e conomic health. Nationally, 37 St. Petersburg Times November 17, 1955, 23; Times November 26, 1955, 4

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24 Sinclair Weeks, the secretary of commerce, predicted record Christmas sales, as did merchants in St. Petersburg, who anticipated s period 1948 54. Employment in the city was up 10 percent over the previous year, the st hunk of real estate transaction fees since Pinellas County from Hillsborough in 1912. first and largest postwar shopping center, was celebrating its third anniversary and appeared to be on track to success. A newer s hopping center, Five Points, was opening at Ninth Street North and Thirty fourth Avenue, while downtown merchants centered around Ninth Street and Central began an aggressive campaign to chain that also h ad restaurant s in New York and Chicago opened downtown on First Avenue North and Second Street. 38 Seasonal celebration offered more opportunity to cheer for St. Petersburg. For example, the yearly Santa Claus parade drew front page advance newspaper cover age that included a banner headline in half inch high bold type and a sub headline proclaiming the event to be the biggest parade in city history. Temperature graphs continued to occupy a spot on the main local page, accompanied by headlines with such word correspondent, filing stories from the North Pole. A Thanksgiving Day editorial touted 38 St. Petersburg Times November 6, 1955, 7F; Times November 17 1955, 21; Times November 18, 1955, 24; Times November 22, Times November 24, 1955, 5C; Times November 29, 1955, 18; Times November 30, 1955, 17.

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25 beaches, sunsh news columns highlighted a record kingfish catch; celebrated the publicity forthcoming through an NBC TV home show originating in St. Petersburg; suggested in a sixty four page special Christmas section that shoppers mail Florida gifts to friends and relatives ; and, perhaps for transplanted football devotees, touted the St. Petersburg High Boca Ci ega football game as a budding classic despite the contest having managed only its second renewal. Perhaps overly presuming the importance and appeal of its region, the newspaper published a long editorial suggesting that Adlai Stevenson, a likely Democrat ic presidential nominee, make his spring primary campaign headquarters in or near St. Petersburg. 39 Despite its support for growth and the presumed prosperity it would bring, despite its constant drumbeating, the Times did not adopt a cynical, anything goe s development mentality. The plans of Florida Power Corporation, the regional electricity supplier, provided an interesting case in point. It brought the Times, an increasingly influential media outlet, face to face with another establishment powerhouse th at plan ned to build a new power plant on Tampa Bay on an undeveloped section of Shore Acres known as Mermaid Point. 40 39 St. Petersburg Times November 24, 1955, 6 Pinellas Winging To Flo Times Times November 24, 1955, 10C ; Times November 24, 1955, 34 Times November 29, 1955, 6. 40 St. Petersburg Times November 9, 1955, 6.

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26 scene, the newspaper politely but emphatically declared the new plant to be unsuited to a n attractive y -41 Designed to be eye catching, stepping away from the usual tombstone column of weighty paragraphs unrolling d to be widely read, contemplated, and embraced as guiding philosophy. It claimed, in fact, to speak not only for the St. Petersburg Times In that single work, the newspaper expressed its vision for World War II America. The editorial asked: Can hea vy industry smokestacks, barge harborage, unnaturally shaped waterfront fills, and all fit handsomely and harmoniously into the you low rate that destiny, and remain in sensitive to the role for which etersburg as a chosen city with a special future: they are far too short sighted in 1955. The plans are technically neat and ob viously rooted in the historical equations of electrici ty production good enough, perhaps, for other places in the nation as they stand today. But these perhaps not even on the pitch which America will take tomorrow. . Residing at it does beside its ow n resolution in an hour when the proper fuel for power production in 1965 is still a mystery 41 Ibid, November 9.

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27 special economic revolution, its emb to go where they wish. It a way, the piece represented one more example of civic promotion. But in one blow, it invoked history, looked to the fut ure, implied all that people yearned for in Florida, what the city was about in 1955.

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28 Chapter Two: A Bridge, a Road, a Plaza Charles Eloshway the serviceman who fell in love with St. Petersburg the first time he saw it from a train window, returned after V J Day, as so many other veterans did. This time Eloshway got off in Tampa and caught a cab for the ride across the Gandy Bridge. Sharing th e car was a young man who looked Asian. It was jarring for Eloshway after his country had spent four years at war with Japan. But this young man wore a United States uniform. Eloshway shook hands with Herbert Kimura. 42 had been one among a handful of Japanese Americans who for more than a generation had farmed a rich plot of muck land in the center of St. Petersburg. It was called Goose Pond. Flanking Central Avenue between 30 th and 35 th Streets, the marsh produced legendary vegetables, but it had a tendency to put Central under water during the rainy season and catch fire during dry spells. People who did n o t pull produce from its nutrient rich soil and even some who did looked at it as a wasteland ripe for development. Indeed, development was on the way and the Goose Pond was about to become the epicenter of seismic change that would reshape St. Petersburg. The change came in the form of three events from 1952 to 1955: The Sunshi ne Skyway opened in September 1954 and would take motorists on U.S. 19 over lower Tampa Bay. Providing a new transportation amenity at what had been a dead end stop offering only ferry service, the Skyway linked St. Petersburg to South 42 Eloshway interview.

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29 Florida via Bradento n, Sarasota, and the Tamiami Trail. It was the most important event in the development of St. Petersburg and its immediate vicinity since the coming of the railroad 66 years earlier. U. S. Highway 19 also called the Gulf Coast Highway was completed through St. Petersburg, creating an uninterrupted road to the Sunshine Skyway. The south highway truck operator at the highway dedication festivities. 43 Bold developers, anticipating economic growth with the coming of new residents and the highway and bridge links, built a sprawling retail center called Central Plaza over the southern part of Goose Pond, the wetlands in the middle of town. The shopping center opened in November 1952 Offering convenience for new residents moving into western St. Petersburg subdivisions, Central Plaza drew attention to what Central Avenue and 34 th 44 Although they were separate projects, the bridge, the highway, and the shopping center were inter re lated components of a larger vision. Because its route was designated in 1947, developers knew U.S. 19 would slice through Goose Pond. They believed the highway, in combination with newly built subdivisions nearby, would turn an agricultural commodity into 43 St. Petersburg Times July 20, 1955, 36 44 St. Petersburg Times November 19, 1952, 17; Times July 19, 1955, 1..

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30 Petersburg leaders and their allies at the state, county, and federal levels had agitated since the 1920s to open the city by extending U.S. 19 and tying it into a lower bay spanning bridge. The fact that St. Petersburg leaders persuaded state officials to build the road through Pinellas County and not rival Tampa made the victory even sweeter. All three phenomena converged during a span of a little less than three years. Taken together, they provided the most significant turning point in St. Petersburg from 1946 to 1963. Spans Across the Bay The opening of the Sunshine Skyway, a 15 mile long, $21 million bridge across lower Tampa Bay, realized a generation old dream and raised expectations for St. connect with southbound roads or they could cross the bay on the Manatee, a ferry in service since 1891. The Skyway reduced the trip to 20 minutes, offering not only convenience but a striking view from atop the 150.5 feet high middle span, a towering web of steel girders overlooking a series of causeways built in a shallow semici rcle. It was billed as the longest continuous bridge in the United States, and according to encouraging light industry to set up shop ion as a modern, exciting place to live. 45 The bridge opened on Sept ember 6, 1954. Its name was chosen from among more 45 Dick Bothwell, St. Petersburg Times Sept ember 7, 1954, 1; New York Times September 7, 1954, 49.

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31 e event became a promotional happening made to appear nearly as important as its impact on transportation. The St. Petersburg Times printed extra copies of its 278 page souvenir Skyway edition. The largest issue since the 1920s boom, the edition contained special sections about the cities and the ten counties the bridge was expected to affect, from Citrus County on the north to Collie r on the south. Intended to be distributed nationwide, the issue contained besides the usual daily news and commentary articles and advertisements that provided an introduction to life on what the local boosters called the Suncoast. The New York Times and Chicago Tribune among other large papers, published stories about the opening, and a local crew made a newsreel for CBS television. Officials somehow persuaded Miss Greece, in America for the Miss Universe contest, to fly in; Rica Diallina and Acting Gov ernor Charley E. Johns exchanged kisses. Delighted reporters hurried to turn the smooches into headlines. To cover all the hoopla, technicians set up a 14 station radio network. 46 The excitement produced a holiday atmosphere. Some kind of lower bay link developer Walter Fuller had proposed a tunnel at one point had been discussed since urned out. Hundreds of cars, their drivers eager to be among the first to cross, crowded bumper to bumper on side streets leading to the Skyway approach. Those who were n o t driving stood or sat on campstools and chairs along Eighteenth Avenue South and T wenty second Avenue South, the only roads available connecting to the short stretch of 34 th 46 Chicago Tribune, August 15, 1954, E1 ; Times May 22, 1954, 17.

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32 Street South leading to the Skyway entrance on Maximo Point. Said 84 year old W.C. ening, and Miss Betty Lee Junium walked several miles to the bridge from their home on Union Street North. Downtown, more people jammed streets around the Suwannee Hotel celebration headquarters. 47 Pushing the bridge to its opening cost estimates that doubled and tripled, the planners faced. 48 The first bridge plan emerged in 1927, proposed by Dr. Herman Simmonds, a transplanted northerner who envis ioned a high level suspension bridge. Dismissed by some as a crackpot, an undiscouraged Simmonds diligently promoted his idea. Eventually, Congress authorized the bridge, and federal authorities issued construction permits. But the Depression crushed Simmo N orth and plans for the bridge died. 49 About the same time, the idea for a tunnel emerged. The first to bring it up was Louis E. Saupe, who led a firm called the West Coast Bridge and Tunnel Co. Saupe wanted a combination bay cro ssing a causeway from Maximo Point to near Mullet Key, then a tunnel a bit less than a mile long under the main shipping channel, then another 47 St. Petersburg Times September 6, 1954, B7. 48 Blizin, ibid. 49 Blizin, ibid

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33 causeway to Terra Ceia on the Manatee County side. Developer Walter Fuller embraced the tunnel idea wholehearte dly and eventually became its primary booster, saying a tunnel would be cheaper, safer, and easier to maintain. Fuller, whose ally Wayne Palmer had engineered a tunnel under Mobile Bay, said a Tampa Bay tunnel would be hurricane proof and at forty feet dee p in the shipping channel, would provide sufficient room for the ocean liner Queen Mary to pass above. 50 Pinellas County commissioners ran with the idea. In 1939, they pushed state lawmakers to approve it, and the Legislature agreed to back a combination bridge tunnel. route crossed a section of Hillsborough County, where the legislative bill had not been legally advertised, as required. 51 The setback only seemed to spur more action during the next two years. In what would prove a fortuitous decision, the Legislature in 1939 created the St. Petersburg Port Authority, which was not directly related to the bridge project but whose existence helped keep alive interest in maritime activities and transportation across the bay. During the s high bridge idea; among them were former City Council member George Hopkins, First National Bank executive H arry Playford, St. Petersburg Times publisher Paul Poynter, and St. Petersburg Independent publisher L. Chauncey Brown. A s frustrated County commissioners continued their unsuccessful lobbying to start the bridge tunnel via legislative action, a Pinellas and Manatee County bridge authority began pursuing federal dollars and an engineering firm drew plans for a crossing that jumped off the foot of 50 Blizin, ibid. 51 Blizin i bid

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34 Ninth Street South near the Bee Line Ferry terminus. But Dec ember 7, 1941 halted all activity. Immediate though ts of crossing the lower bay vanished amid the early World War II effort. The Navy even took over the Bee Line Ferry service. 52 B oosters soon renewed the fight. Nelson Poynter, son of the Times publisher and now a powerful editor at the newspaper sugges ted the Port Authority build a deep water port in which Navy ships could refuel. The idea never took off, though it was discussed month after month in endless deliberation that served to sustain the idea of crossing the bay. Finally the Port Authority quit gabbing and got busy: It decided it would buy back the Bee Line from the government after the war, thus acquiring an asset to aid in financing a bridge while showing a need for it by keeping close track of ferry traffic. Designers and engineers got on boa rd, including the New York City firm of Parsons, Brinckerhoff, Hogan and MacDonald, the company that eventually designed the Skyway. Another engineering firm, Bail, Horton and Associates of Bradenton and Fort Myers, put an $8.6 million price tag on the br idge and suggested a $1.25 per car toll. 53 Seeing serious steps undertaken, opponents began howling. Hillsborough County officials declared that a lower bay crossing would stifle Tampa business and threaten the ation more difficult. The Tampa Chamber of Commerce added its objections. T he Pinellas County Commission, which did not wish to oppose a bay crossing but hoped to upstage St. Petersburg, threw in a complication when it asked the Legislature to let the coun ty condemn the Bee Line and use county, state, and 52 Blizin, ibid. 53 Blizin ibid.

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35 federal money for a toll free bridge and/or tunnel. But the lawmakers let other business bury the bill, and it died without definitive action. 54 By 1946, the state boards had blessed the bay crossing and the federal government approved. The official green lights were encouraging, but new difficulties loomed. Citing increased labor and building costs, the Port Authority pressed the Legislature to raise the debt limit on the bridge from $10 million to $15 million. Despite cries that the price was growing too high, l awmakers raised the limit. But the enabling legislation required that no member of the St. Petersburg City Council could hold a paid position involving the project and so Port Authority chair E. Leslie Cole, a council member who had shepherded the projec Steel auditor, replaced him. This resolved the conflict of interest problem, but the cost issue remained. It became the talk of the town. Argument ensued over business lunches and across fences People went to mass public meetings in Williams Park. Finally, officials called for a referendum and the public voted to approve the higher cost. That same year, 1947, Circuit Judge John U. Bird validated $15 million in bonds. At last, the proje ct seemed ready to begin. Yet not one bid was offered for any of the bonds. St. Petersburg defaulted on its bonds during the Depression years, and perhaps investors recalled the history. 55 B ridging the lower bay might have remain ed unrealized for a long time but smart politicking resurrect ed the moribund dream. B ridge boosters had an ally in Fuller Warren. Elected governor in 1948, the Blountstown born lawyer agreed to let the state Improvement Commission take over bridge financing and to let the state road department 54 Blizin ibid. 55 Blizin, i bid; St. Petersburg Evening Independent Evening Independent March 21, 1930, 14.

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36 build it. Helping the cause was St. Petersburg lawyer Frank Harris who was a major Warren supporter during the gubernatorial campaign. Acting quickly after the inauguration, Harris and Nelson Poynter hosted a dinner at the Vinoy Hotel on M arch 10, 1949. They invited Hernando County banker Alfred McKethan, a Warren appointee who most powerful politicians. A bevy of other state officials and lawmakers attended, as did the Port Authority members: Leon D. Lewis, William H. Mills, John P. Welch, Roy C. Bishop, and Henry Sorenson. Undoubtedly, negotiations took place before and after the sit down. But soon ssumed $520,000 in bonded indebtedness, and retained a New York consultant to do a new traffic survey. Pinellas State Senator Henry Baynard and State Representatives Charles Schuh, James A. McClure, and Archie Clement pushed through the necessary legislati on. Just like that, the project had its legs again prompting the first of numerous celebrations. 56 On July 4, 1949, the first Spans Across the Bay event drew more than 100 powerful figures, among them Warren and McKethan. A fleet of small boats ferried t he luminaries down Tampa Bay. Guides showed them Egmont and Mullet keys, taking the few weeks later, Circuit Judge John Dickinson validated a $21,250,000 bond issue, backed by Improvement Commission resources. In July 1950, another star spangled holiday brought more than 5,000 people to Al Lang Field, where officials opened bids for the first phase of construction. Low bidders were the Hendry Corporation of Rattlesnake a community just across Gandy Bridge on the way to Tampa, and Atlantic Dredging 56 Blizin, i bid; Jeffrey S. Solochek and Craig Basse St. Petersburg T imes April 2 2002 1B.

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37 Company of Satsuma. Each firm won pieces of the job. By 1952, the bridge with no tunnel was well on its way. 57 newsman St. Petersburg Times outdoors editor Rube Allyn and photographer Bob Moreland became the first people other than workers to negotiate the new Skyway. Their trip, undertaken for front page articles and photographs, included a dizzying scoot acro far above Tampa Bay. 58 Allyn started his journey from the community of Rubonia named for Rube Allyn Sr. on the Manatee County side. He and Moreland took 59 minutes, counting stops to make photographs, to cross narrow girder s as high above the water as the top of an eleven counted five ocean going freighters at least 500 feet long pass under the span. 59 did not count. The real thing would be crossing by car, and motorists lined up by the thousands to do it. From 11:45 a.m. on September 6 to 11 p.m. that night when the $1.75 toll charge kicked in 15,086 cars crossed, said Skyway manage r L.E. Radcliffe. That figure did not include the official Rockwell hansom cab. Following closely in a Chrysler Imperial were Acting Gov ernor Johns, General James A. Van Fleet, and U.S. Senator Sp essard Holland. It was estimated more than 50,000 people crossed in cars, buses, and trucks, on bikes, and on foot. Among the throng was Dazzy Vance, a Brooklyn Dodgers pitching star of the 1920s, who drove 57 Blizin, ibid. 58 St. Petersburg Times July Times, July 8, 1954, 1 59 Allyn, ibid

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38 his 1925 Dodge from Homosassa Springs. David Car penter, a Tampa resident, was 60 For those less interested in risking car trouble in crowded traffic, there were plenty of off road attractions, too: dances, a beauty contest, and by special arrange ment Rear Window starring James Stewart, in the air conditioned Florida Theater. 61 T he relatively steep charge of $1.75 to cross the bridge did not necessarily local workers in 1954; truck driver trainees were being offered $1.12, for example and $1.75 could purchase a seven 62 The Missing Link That so many thousands turned out for the Skyway opening testified to the powerful mystique of the new bridge but not to the convenience of reaching it. Motorists could not go straight down U.S. 19 because the highway remained incomplete between Twenty s econd Av enue North and Eighteenth Avenue South, a distance of about three miles. African American residents called the section south of Central Avenue and west of Twenty eighth Street South isolation, where there were few roads. Many drivers had to with the awkward approach on a special day, southbound tourists would not be 60 Bothwell ibid. 61 St. Petersburg Times Florida Theater advertisement, September 7, 1954, 21 62 Help wanted advertisements for truck driver trainees appeared regularly in the St. Petersburg Time and daily.

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39 impressed. Clearly, the highway legitimately could boast of shedding its dead end geography. 63 A little more than ten months later, St. Petersburg had its full connection to the rest of the nation. The finished U.S. 19, stretching all the way to Erie, Pa., was dedicated on July 19, 1955. At the ceremony, U.S. Sen ator George C. Smathers, predicting the He praised Wal ter Fuller for his role and h e pointed to the $3.3 million in federal subsidies that helped drive the highway through St. Petersburg. 64 In 91 degree heat Johnson, wiping away sweat center, to hear speeches and that night watch a $1,500 fireworks display. An overloaded, one ton air conditioner at a new appliance store went on the blink. Outside, spectators pulled their camp stools into rare patches of shade. A man dressed as Davy Crockett, the hushed when the com bined bands of St. Petersburg, Boca Ciega, and Northeast high schools crashed into the Star Spangled Banner. for African American youngsters, did not participate. The absence amounted to irony even in a Jim Crow era as the new highway passed closer to Gibbs than it did to the 63 St. Petersburg Times September 5, 1954, 2; Bear County is a familiar term among long time African American residents. The author first heard it from Joseph Battle in an August, 1996 conversation. In African American historian Minson Rubin and the late City Council member Ernest Fillyau also used the term to describe the area 64 St. Petersburg Times July 20, 1955

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40 cent sale honoring the created a cake ten feet lon g and four feet wide, covered it with 250 pounds of butter in addition to the municipal pier, Al Lang Field, and Derby Lane greyhound track. 65 As the Skyway celebrati on did the year before, the U.S. 19 festivities culminated years of planning. In a sense, the project began during the 1920s when the DuPont industrial interests bought millions of acres of land near the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle. The DuPonts then began agitating for a highway between Pensacola and Tallahassee to serve their vast holdings, and as a clever political ploy, proposed an W est C oast all the way to St. Petersburg. When t he Panhandle road soon was built t he l ink to St. Petersburg was pushed aside. 66 But Walter Fuller later retrieved the plan. Always deeply involved in anything concerning St. Petersburg and its development, Fuller was elected to the Legislature in 1936 after campaign ing for renewed attention t o the highway. At first, not everyone session about the road, only eight showed up. And s plan as unrealistic. Only Times publisher Paul Po ynter liked the idea; he plunked down $100 to underscore his support, which initiated the Gulf Coast Highway Association . Oscar W. Gilbart, a descendant of city pioneers who arrived from England in the 1880s 65 St. Pet e rsburg Times July 20, 1955, 36; Times, Publix advertisement, Times Times July 2 0, 1955, 1. 66 St. Petersburg Times Sept. 6, 1954, 10B.

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41 before St. Petersburg had its railroad, or treasurer. 67 The group started promoting the highway and Fuller pushed it during the promises to help build it. M ile by mile progress by road boards took plae under five governors Spessard Holland, Millard Caldwell, Fuller Warren, Dan McCarty, and Charley Johns. Work progressed even during World War II and i n 1944, the highway was completed from Crystal River to just north of New Por t Richey. 68 Between 1947 and 1954, the state worked hard to finish the road, pumping about $6 million into the project. Work began in 1947 on an extension to Tarpon Springs, In 1954, crews finished sections from Pinellas Park to Twenty Second Avenue North in St. Petersburg, and from Eighteenth Avenue South to Maximo Point, where the highway joined the Sunshine Skyway. 69 When the last link opened in 1955, St. Petersburg had a highway link not only to Erie, Pa. but also to Cincinnati through to U.S. 27 via Tallahassee. The city had traffic arteries to both the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, regions whose residents looked to Florida for vacations and perhaps n ew homes. 70 With gasoline available somewhere around twenty five to twenty nine cents per gallon, and more than seven million cars s old nationwide in 1955 the n ew roads leading to St. Petersburg beckoned 71 67 Witwer, ibid; Fuller, 301; Grismer 277, 288. 68 Witwer, ibid. 69 Witwer, ibid. 70 Witwer, ibid. 71 St. Petersburg Times October 27, 1955, 6.

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42 From Marsh to Merchandise The Goose Pond story of development and merchandising symbolized St. opened on part of a former marsh on November 18, 1952, a newspaper headline six hundred feet of new commercial frontage, opening near the heart of town intersection of U. S. Highway 19 and Central Avenue, drew up to 50,000 visitors who strained central l ocation. But it cast ominous foreshadowing of difficult challenges ahead for the 72 backwater to Sun Belt destination. The 98 acre tract, as w ere other parts of Florida, was filled and paved and covered with buildings. Its use as a food production site and natural drainage area was lost. So was its potential as a public park or nature preserve. All those past uses and future possibilities were t raded for economic gain, shopping opportunities, offices, and other urban amenities for a growing city. Filled with rich soil but smaller than a quarter section farm on the Great Plains, Goose Pond first supported such bucolic activities as hunting and tru ck farming. Situated between Fifth Avenues North and South, bounded by Thirty First and Thirty Fourth Streets, the anomalous site in the center of town was developed later than other city areas 72 St. Petersburg Times Times November 18, 1952, 2B.

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43 because of its low lying nature. When development did come, it helped link far flung significant land use event of the 1950s on e xisting real estate. Dredge and fill operations, which created land from water, constituted the most dram atic (and damaging) development phenomenon, and will be discussed in a later chapter. 73 area was p art of a sinkhole system that stretched from Mirror Lake downtown to the It was one of sever al such features in the lower Pinellas peninsula T he remnants of th e lake Watson described would give way in the twentieth century to Central Plaza. Far from being the growers needed to produce bountiful vegetable harvests. 74 City boosters sometimes touted such sites as economic engines if they were not denigrating them as barrens. The description depended on whether investments were being sought. Early in the twentiet considerable attention. On one occasion, the St. Petersburg Times said in a front page article: absolutely worthless territory that was only a blot on the 73 St. Petersburg Evening Independent April 16, 1917, 1; John Bethell, Pinellas, A Brief History of the Lower Point (St. Petersburg: Independent Job Press, 1912), 56 74 ation of Karst Depressions by Urbanization in Pinellas District East, State of Florida, May 1848.

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44 landscape . are now in all stages of change, from the grubbing out of jungle, ditching, plowing, planting, to pro ducing and harvesting. Small armies of workmen which means (payrolls) are engaged in these works, and the muck lands of St. Petersburg are among the busiest places to be seen on the Peninsula either our own splendid little Pi nellas Peninsula or the big one of Florida. 75 One of the earliest entrepreneurs at the Goose Pond was landscape businessman Charle s Townsend Wedding, who established between 1905 and 1910 a nursery at what would become the southeast corner of Central Avenue and Thirty Fourth Street. During World War II, his son Charles Wedding and grandson, C. Randolph Wedding, planted a victory ga rden on about one and one -an indentation that allowed collection of water and helped create marshy conditions. Trees and shrubs grew intermittently among the garden plots. Miniature ponds developed within the site. There were no paths as such; people simply walked around, skirting gardens and bogs as best they could. A nimals helping to work the land had a harder time, sometimes sinking into the muck. Mules wore burlap on their feet to keep from bogging down; farmers attached thick. 76 Wi 75 St. Petersburg Times March 22, 1910, 1. 76 C. Randolph Wedding i nterview by Jon Wilson about Goose Pond St. Petersburg, April 13, 2006; Scott Hartzell, St. Petersburg Times Neighborhood Times Section, January 3, 2001, 9.

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45 buckets and stone in there and it would grow In 1937, Paul McCutcheon, a Goose Pond property owner, cited an unidentified analysis that revealed every neces sary nutrient for plant growth, saying that authorities had pronounced the soil 77 Whatever the muck contained, its productivity consistently drew farmers willing to work the marsh for a living. Among those who did were a group of Japanese farmers, some of whom appeared in St. Petersburg about the time of World War I. They grew American vegetables, selling them to local grocers. Their names included Kimura, Terrasaka, Watanabe and Yamanaka. Herbert Kimura said his father Harry Kimura also ran a butcher shop in a grocery store on the south side of Central Avenue near the Goose Pond. 78 catch fire from time to time during dry spells. Smoldering muck fires spread a putrid odor across central St. Petersburg and sometimes caused a traffic hazard. One such inferno developed in January 1944 when property owners Al Furen and Bucky Enos got permission from the fire department to burn off a lot near Central Avenue and Thirt y f irst Street so they could install a golf driving range. The piled up mulch and grass, set it alight and, after leaving the scene learned that a workman had plowed under the burning bundles. The result was what the St. Petersburg Times oke screen that tied up traffic and made vision all but impossible. The smog drifted, tying up motorists 77 Hartzell St. Petersburg Times Nov. 26, 1937 13. 78 Bette Smith, St. Petersburg Time s August 8, 1983 3D.

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46 on streets and avenues from Fifth Avenue North to Fifth Avenue South in the marsh area. 79 If fire was a problem, so was water. Heavy rains could send floods rolling out of the marsh to cover Central Avenue, which by 1914 stretched from downtown to Boca Ciega Bay. It stopped cars, trucks, and the trolley, which by 1913 reached the Jungle area on the bay. One tale of woe came from Walter Fuller, who had real estate projects in the far west St. Petersburg neighborhood. The summer of 1916 brought particularly wet weeks, putting Central under water near the Goose Pond and blocking transportation for ommandeered a fleet of rowboats to ferry passengers across the flood so they could connect with street cars stalled on each side of the swamp. 80 main east west roadway which linked downtown to the property of influential real made the marsh more an annoyance than a blessing. It was only a matter of time before someone came up with ideas to develop it. In the late 1930s, Al Furen was a young Goose Pond property owner with visions of more than truck farming. He wanted to turn the swamp into a showcase containing a shopping center -a wisp of an idea whose timing proved not quite right, but which would have its day in a little more than a decade. Born during the Depression, the plan must have been viewed as bold. Furen wanted to start immediately on a five year timeline whose implementation he predicted would cost $50,000. The shopping center 79 St. Petersburg Times January 14, 1944 1 80 Grismer, 120; James Buckley, Street Railroads of St. Petersburg (Forty Fort, Pa.: Harold E. Cox, 1983) 9; Fuller, 114.

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47 wildlife sanctuary. 81 During the 1930s cash was scarce and lending was seldo m available on request. Goose Pond t ruck farming continued at least through World War II, but the site allowed to own weapons of any kind, including ax heads used in work. Legislators feared t hat these long war effort. At least one resident of Japanese descent still maintained a business as war Avenu 3260 Central Avenue. A full fledged shopping center would have to wait. 82 An early sign that Goose Pond would change with the rest of St. Petersburg arrived in August 1945 jus t days after V J Day when the Pinellas County School Board purchased acreage on the site. The board revealed no immediate plans, but it was reported that members hoped to build new school facilities there. The purchase presaged a bitter fight less than a decade later between the school district and St. Petersburg city government about policy regarding the sale of publicly owned land. Meanwhile, it was inevitable th at be developed i n some way that would reflect a more urban landscape. 83 81 St. Petersburg Times August 12, 1950, 37. 82 Hartzell, S t. Petersburg Times January 3, 2001 Neighborhood Times section 10. 83 St. Petersburg Evening Independent August 23, 1945 4.

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48 The first impetus emerged in 1949 and 1950 when it bec a me clear that highway planners were drawing the new U.S. Highway 19 route along the line of Thirty Fourth Street rn edge. Suddenly, the swamp was a hot item. Developers had avoided it for years because of the site preparation and fill work Petersburg while urban improvements lea St. Petersburg Times. But the coming of a major road made investment more attractive. Early in 1950, Builders Mortgage Corporation was one of the first large commercial enterprises to stake out territory west of Thirty First Street near the marsh when it sunk pilings, installed a patch of fill, and built an office. Clearly, something was about to happen on the development front. 84 And happen it did in 1951. The G&F Realty Corporation, headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey and Mia mi Beach, bought four blocks between Central Avenue and Second Avenue South, bounded by Thirty Fourth and Thirty Second Streets. The sellers were Al Furen and C.E. Lebeck. The reported price was $156,000. 85 The second shoe dropped in September 1951 when ne a term usually employed when sources are not ready to announce something officially that a to a zoning change that accommodate d the development. A month later, Lowell Fyvolent, a realty brokerage The project which 84 St. Petersburg Times August 13, 1950 37. 85 St. Petersburg Times, August 12, 1951 1.

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49 reportedly was a $700,000 investment was bound to be benefit for residents of new presented the first major threat to downtown business supremacy. Among those who s aw it that way was Webb tried to block the new Central Plaza development by persuading planners to chop the Goose Pond tract into small, conventional pieces rather than zon e a commercial tract large enough for the shopping center. Webb failed, but his enterprise outlasted many another downtown business challenged and hurt by the upsurge in commercial growth brought by the new shopping center and others that followed. 86 Few, if any, opposed the development on the grounds that a rich, productive tract Petersburg disappeared under tons of concrete and asphalt, its seemed as though people, even those who had farmed the marsh, were eager to have their city embrace a symbol of Kimura, the wife of Herbert Kimura, who was among the last of the Japanese Goose Pond farmers. 87 Central Plaza opened in November 1952 with parking space for 2,500 vehicles, more than three times the original estimate. The center attracted between 30,000 and 50,000 shoppers on the first day and police had to direct traffic to keep it from jamming Lindsey department store. Strong suppo rting stores 86 St. Petersburg Times September 23, 1951 ; Times October 21, 1951 1 ; Fuller, 230. 87 Hartzell, January 3, 2001.

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50 included apparel shop, and an appliance store. A second grocery store an A&P further bolstered the line up a delicatessen style restaurant with an extensive menu featuring reuben sandwiches, huge cheeseburgers chocolate clairs, cheese cake, and fish served with the head intact. It all made quite a ripple in the old Goose Pond and beyond. 88 arrival still left a question about the section of the Goose Pond north of Central Avenue. The School Board owned fifty five acres, which it had purchased several years earlier for $55,000. As early as 1953, industrialists had begun to sniff around, lookin g for likely development sites. In October, school board chairman of the Pinellas County Light Industry Council; J.V. Zimmerman of Futuronics, a toy industry; and Georg City planners gave them a mixed reception. Among the critics was the ubiquitous Walter Fuller, a city planning board member, who declared the property should not be used for anything but publ 89 was an early shot across the bow in what would become an acrimonious debate that dragged on for several year s. The issue: how should the School Board dispose of its property? T he land, worth much more in the 1950s real estate climate than the board had paid for it, promised a lucrative sales price Speculation suggested the property was worth anywhere from $750, 000 to $1 million, and the school 88 St. Petersburg Times, November 19, 1952 17. 89 St. Petersburg Times, October 23, 1953 17E.

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51 district needed revenue to pay for growing needs: in St. Petersburg alone, two new high schools and a junior high school were being built or were in planning stages. The question: To whom would the board sell, private deve lopers or the City of St. Petersburg? The issue had even broader meaning, according to the St. Petersburg Times trustees of public realty holdings liquidate them today, in face of sure future needs for 90 The Times w as a staunch supporter of keeping the remaining Goose Pond acreage in the public domain. It also favored carefully planned development and it saw the Goose Pond controversy as a battle that would either uphold planning principles or push them away. The new spaper suggested that the lure of quick profits from real estate would Times was City biggest piece of publicly owned land in the center city. 91 In August 1954, the city planning allow stores on the Goose Pond acreage, something the board had wanted so that the land would become more attractive to developers. The planning board also recommended that the city acquire for public purposes The Times lived triumph. 92 90 St. Petersburg Times February 19, Times February 21, 1954. 91 St. Petersburg Times June 28, 1954 6 92 2 Punch By Pl St. Petersburg Times August 13, 1954 17.

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52 Less than a year later, the School Board sold its acreage for $802,000 -a 1,400 percent return on its $55,000 investment a decade earlier. The board sold about fifty acres of the property to a five person private development group, which paid $682,000; the U.S. postal service picked up the other five acres on option for $120,000. It was, said the Times, ted both the School Board and the City Council for not working out an agreement to keep the Goose Pond public . angle by using the dollar symbol. Meanwhile, School Bo ard member Abe Pheil, a former St. Petersburg mayor, lashed back, accusing the Times architect to begin preliminary plans for twenty new cla ssrooms signifying that d evelopers were beginning to win the commercial zoning they wanted. 93 The School Board sale paved the way for development on the Goose Pond property north of Central Avenue. As in the Central Plaza development a few years earlier, no one raised a voice in defense of the marsh land itself. The public attitude of the time seemed to be that the Goose Pond, after years as a barely tolerated wasteland, finally was coming into its own. The Times summed up the mood in a blurb published aft er Central Plaza opened writer insisted, it, regarded it as a bother something to hurdle over, especially after a Summer The feature concluded by mimicking 93 Evelyn Rogers, St. Petersburg Times July 28, 1955.

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53 94 A United States Post Office opened in late 1 957 at First Avenue North and Thirty First Street on part of the property the School Board sold. More development followed, including a retail center called North Plaza between Central Avenue and First Avenue North. A 36,000 square foot W.T. Grant discount department store became its anchor tenant. A block east of Central Plaza, the William Henry department store went in. and First Avenue N in March 1959, a 181,000 square foot behemoth set on ten acres, largest retail center nationally. The mega store It included a fourteen vehicle service center and an outdoor lawn and garden shop. On the site of the victory garden planted by C. Ran dolph Wedding and his father rose an apartment and office complex. 95 D evelopment overwhelmed the Goose Pond tract, although issues regarding rights of way simmered for several more years. Vestiges of the old agricultural economic base mostly citrus and p asture lands disappeared during the 1950s throughout St. Petersburg, covered in favor of tract housing and commercial development. St. Petersburg boiled with development fever. Nobody tried to rescue Goose Pond as a natural resource and only the Times and a few allies agitated for a publicly owned facility of some kind. Business clearly was ascendant over public use. Entrepreneurs were common phenomenon 94 Paradise Lost Raymond O. Arsenault and Jack Davis, eds., (Gainesville Fla.: University Press of Florida, 2005), St. Petersburg Times May 17, 1953 1F. 95 St. Petersburg Times May 27 195 7, 25 ; Specia Times March 12, 1959, 1.

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54 environmental historian Donald Worster has d es cribed. T he Goose Pond had virtually no chance t o remain as it had been and perhaps there was no compelling reason for it to do so. A new era had arrived. 96 96 The Ends of the Earth 48.

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55 Chapter Three: Palmetto, Pastures, People During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a talented, young designer worked into the wee hours and through weekends, crafting an exotic sports car at the edge of what was meaning Th e Shark, or sometimes simply the Covington Special. The s leek, low slung vehicle drew favorable reviews from such national automotive magazines as Road and Track 97 y e ighth Street North, El Tiburon seemed out of place. It was a fantasy car in a tract house subdivision built next to pastures and pine. Fancifully named Westgate Manor was so un developed that cattle sometimes escaped from an adjacent ranch, soiling fresh St. Augustine grass and knocking down new clot heslines belonging to recently arrived middle class residents from Long Island or Springfield, Mass., or Port Huron, Mich. 98 In truth, the anomalous space age car in the cookie cutter, concrete block stwar reality. Between 1950 and 1959, developers built 46,679 new houses in St. Petersburg, the most in any decade before or since. Two three and occasionally four bedroom houses most in the suburban ranch style were priced moderately to attract b oth retirees and young families. The new residents moving into these homes were always white; black residents drawn to 97 Olga Covington interview by Jon Wilson about El Tiburon St. Petersburg, February 28, 2000 New York Times May 8, 1962, 39. 98 The author lived in Westgate Manor as a youngster and watched roaming cattle. His first friends were from the locations cited.

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56 traditionally segregated African American communities c loser to the city center. Meanwhile, clean industry arrived. Cutting edge electronics firms such as General agricultura l, and more recently, homebuilding economic bases. The new companies w ere directly related to the to become a modern, exciting city even as the proliferation o f look alike subdivisions created a bland ambience A s a local writer expressed it in retrospect, was one painted coral pink and aquamarine, with plaster marlin s and palm trees glued near their 99 Acres of Houses Memories of the Great Depression remained fresh enough that an economic slowdown in the late 1950s worried national leaders who feared something worse could be around the corner. In early 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower urged Congress to hurry its anti recession projects and he asked for a 13 week jobless pay extension as unemployment hit a sixteen year high. About 6.7 percent of the workforce had no job. 100 On Long Island, s ome people were moving out of the city to new sub urbs like 99 http://www.city data.com/zips/33713.html accessed February 24, 2008; St. Petersburg Times October 21, 1987, 1D; Hendrix Chandler, Sputnik Age Prov Bradenton Herald October 28, 1957, 3. 100 New York Times March 16 1958, 1; nt, March 12, 1958, 1.

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57 Levittown, where William Levitt put up 17,000 small family homes in New York potato fields, thus launching one of the first mass production home developments. 101 St. Petersburg had its own, smaller versions. Most often, the new residents were not people who had lived in older parts of St. Petersburg; they were newcomers drawn from the Midwest and Northeast to what they believed would be a new Eden in Florida. estimated 165,000 in 1958. 102 The growing population evidently had money to spend, as Pinellas County for the first time passed Hillsborough County in annual retail sales. 103 Pinellas also led the state in job increases for the previous year and less than three percen t were unemployed. Among Florida counties, Pinellas pushed Dade County for leadership in the collection of sales taxes. 104 beauty, and as a burgeoning population strained Pinella public transportation infrastructure, new residential and business development boomed in outlying St. Petersburg neighborhoods and in neighboring towns Kenneth City, South Pasadena, Pinellas Park, and unincorporated Semino le. Meanwhile, remaining spokesman for the Florida Citrus Commission. Replacing the groves, said Edgar L. 101 Halberstam, 134 137. 102 St. Petersburg city planning board Polk City Directory 1958, x. 103 St. Petersburg Times March 27, 1958, 1B. 104 I St. Petersburg Times March 27, 1958 1B; Times March 27, 1958 10A

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58 postwar period. Beginning in 1946, St. Petersburg set con struction records in terms of total value every year through 1950; before dropping back slightly in 1951, construction renewal set records for the next six years. 105 Big shopping centers finished, under construction, or planned amounted to $20 million in i nvestment in 1958, posing formidable competition for the old downtown. Chief among the St. Petersburg additions were North Plaza, just across from the popular Central Plaza; and Crossroads Shopping Center on Tyrone Boulevard. North Plaza boasted two full b locks of stores, including clothing and shoe shops, a mid range department store, a drug store, gift and jewelry shops, and an appliance store. Parking was available for 300 vehicles another advantage the new centers had over downtown, which for years ha d struggled to solve parking issues A supermarket, three department stores, and a drug store provided major tenants for the 42 store Tyrone Gardens Shopping Center expansion, and northwest on the boulevard, Crossroads planned parking for 3,000 shoppers bound for such stores as Food n and Liggett Drugs. Kenneth City developer Sidney Colen planned a 26 store center to serve his new incorporated subdivision and plazas were proposed on a former dairy site between far Fourth and Ninth Streets North and on Alt. U.S. Highway 19. Publix, meanwhile, opened a supermarket in Madeira Beach and planned others in South Pasadena and south St. 105 St. Petersburg Times February 3, 1958, 1B ; Times Times January 1, 1958, 3B

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59 Petersburg. 106 s heart at the crossroads of Central Avenue and U.S. Highway 19, provided downtown its toughest competition especially after adding an 86,000 square foot Wm. Henry store to rival Maas Brothers. mbience by adding a shaded walkway with a fountain, palm trees, and benches. Early in the year, a Montgomery Ward agent filed plans for an 80,000 square foot store on First Avenue North and U.S. Highway 19. It would complement Central Plaza and render obso lete the downtown Ward store. 107 Developers busied themselves putting up large scale shopping enterprises because of new subdivisions sprawling north, west, and south. Virtually every day, St. every par t of the city. For example, Meadowlawn premiered as a booming north city subdivision, offering two bedroom houses of about 1,000 square feet for $10,950, a price within reach of and living space suitable for most retirees or young families. In January 1958 t he subdivision on Ninth Street North, north of Sixty second Avenue h ad opened its second phase; 75 houses had already been completed and the constant beat and buzz of construction equipment promised 80 more soon to be completed. In the western sections, newcomers were buying tract houses in Brentwood Heights, Disston Gardens, Westgate Manor, and Harshaw Lake; prices ranged from $ 8,250 to $22,500 for two and 106 Tampa Tribune October 13, 1957, business page 107 th Street Store, St. Petersburg Times ,April 6, 1958, 1B; Times 1 B.

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60 three bedroom houses. 108 Typical of the style were terrazzo floors, carports instead of an enclose d garage, pebbled roofs instead of shingles or tile, and jalousie operated with a crank. Avenue, Irving Green had opened Coquina Key. His five two bedroom, two bath model home s were the first of a projected 1,200 new homes on the spit of land formerly known as Lewis Island. The debut was billed as the first attempt in St. Petersburg to California. Maximo Moorings west of U.S. 19 was rising on 380 acres between Forty sixth and Fifty fourth Avenues South. The Greater Pinellas Point neighborhood was spreading across the tip of the Pinellas peninsula (new homes featured in the wall radio an d communications systems), and Allstate Insurance Company had purchased a substantial chunk of property on U.S. 19 near the Maximo development. The Allstate purchase raised Times eyebrows, almost as if they were reminder of an interesting fact -St. Petersburg is bigger than you think, and has more e residents had American population. In its editorial, the Times ignored the traditional meme, blaming slower s outh side development 108 St. Petersburg Times July 20, 19 Virtually any daily and Sunday edition of the St. Petersburg Times and the St. Petersburg Evening Independent featured advertisements promoting new subdivisions.

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61 on city ownership of large pieces of property there. 109 Not all the tract style houses were built in new subdivisions. St. Petersburg contained many areas that had been platted, sometimes paved, and finally abandoned during the 1920s real estate boom and its subsequent bust. Rio Vista, for example, a neighborhood in north St. Petersburg, provided property and houses for many returning war veterans. At the same time, neighborhoods such as Crescent Heights, Crescent Lake, Shore Acres, La kewood, and Greater Pinellas Point had been only partly developed during the 1920s; vacant lots in these neighborhoods remained to be filled with houses Craftsman, Col onial Revival, Art Deco, Tudor, and Mediterranean Revival houses often style suburban ranch style dwellings. Historian Jack Davis resulted in b uilding during different decades and have helped create eclectic 110 Segregated Subdivisions Ironically, a new waterfront subdivision for African Americans had been proposed for the area that became Maximo Moorings. Developer Richard Deeb filed his Advisory Committee to study the problem of congested living in African neighborhoods. Representing about fourtee 109 Tampa Tribune November 17, 1957, 47 St. Petersburg Times On T Times April 5, 1958, 4A. 110 Booms, Busts and Bungalows: Development Patterns and Homestyles in St. Petersburg, Florida, 1888 21

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62 conditions in and of themselves did not necessarily represent a negative. The problem was that much of t he housing in the black neighborhoods was substandard, as we will see in Chapter IV; moreover, few African Americans had any hope for better housing. family homes and four blocks of apartments spread over 36 0 acres. It also included a motel, a school, a health clinic, two I look on this as the greatest opportunity a developer could have to improve Negro living standards and racial relations, Petersburg resid ent. At first, the project seemed likely to win approval. Mayor Johnson liked it, the City Council passed the zoning application on its first reading, and both the word of mouth campaign White people started to protest, Stewart an African They said things like, What will tourists coming off the (Skyway) bridge think if they see that? Other s s aid Martin Shores would lower property values, cause diminished tax returns and result in a flood of unattractive, low not matter to opponents, willing to capitalize on the institutional racism that still reigned in the Sunshine City. The plan died within a year of its birth. 111 Its demise, which took place even as city leaders were discussing slum clearance plans also known as urban renewal meant no changes in housing o pportunity would be forthcoming for African American residents. Most people of color lived in Pepper 111 September 17, 2003, Neigh borhood Times section, 6.

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63 Town, Methodist Town, Gas Plant, or near Twenty second Street South. 112 Pepper Town, first settled by black laborers who helped build the Orange Belt Railr oad, was situated just east of Ninth Street along Third and Fourth Avenues South. seasoning; James King, who grew up in the neighborhood, suggests another possibility: t hat the name was coined because most people there grew all kinds of peppers in tubs, first Masonic lodge in 1893; the Prince Hall Lodge 109 predated by about a year t he first white lodge. 113 In 1894, Methodist Town began growing in a corner of what were then the western reaches of St. Petersburg. Named for the Bethel AME Church, it was situated west of Ninth Street North between Arlington and Fifth Avenues and was anoma lous as a few other African Americans lived in an unnamed community on Seventh Avenue North around Thirty seventh Street. It, too, apparently grew up around a church, St. John Baptist, beginning in the 1920s when the area was far out in the country. Remnants Horace Nero, who grew up in the Twenty second Street community. 114 Along Railr oad Avenue between Ninth and Sixteenth Streets South, so called because tracks ran down the middle of the avenue, another black community arose. First 112 Peck interview 113 James King interview by Jon Wilson about African American police officers St. Petersburg, January 15, 2007; Ernest Fil l yau interview by Jon Wilson about Masonic lodges St. Petersburg, November 23, 2003 114 Horace Nero interview by Jon Wilson about African American police officers, St. Petersburg, December 11, 2006.

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64 composed of railroad workers, draymen, laborers, and fishermen. Originally called soon became home to tailors, barbers, teachers, preachers, grocers, carpenters, masons, and people employed in many other early twentieth century occupations. By the 1920s, it had become known as the Gas Plant neighborhood, named for the two massive cylind ers of natural gas that towered over the community. 115 But the largest and most energetic African American business community bustled along a strip of Twenty second Street South between Fifth and Fifteenth Avenues. At the height of its influence, nearly 10 0 black owned or operated businesses, many of them mom and pop operations, were open. In addition, Twenty second Street had the Jim Crow era Mercy Hospital, a quonset hut movie theater, and the iconic Manhattan Casino, a dance hall on the so called chitlin name bands, entertainers, and gospel artists. Twenty second Street had its beginnings in the 1920s, when African Americans began moving to the then rural area both because they were attracted to jobs in the nearby white owned industries and because white leaders public housing project, was built adjacent to the thoroughfare during the years 1939 1941, and its residents contributed to the vitality of the Twenty and leisure establishments and its professional cadre of doctors, lawyers, and dentists. While never financially prosperous relative to the wider, white dominated world, the Twenty second Street neighborhood, like the other black precincts, provided its residents with a sense of self, of independence, and of community. 116 115 Peck interview. 116 Paul Barco interview by Jon Wilson about Twenty second Street South St. Petersburg, August 14, 2001; Lou Brown interview by Jon Wilson about Twenty second Street South February 18, 2002; Askia

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65 What it did not provide was consistent access to good housing for the growing black population, which in 1950 had reach total 96,738; by 1960, it had grown about 72 percent to 24,080, or about 13 percent of St. for blacks generally fizzled. A rare exception was Wildwood Heights, situated south of Ninth Avenue South between Twenty Second and Twenty Eighth Streets, where a few new houses were built during the late 1940s and into the 1950s. 117 Maximo Moorings, which eventually was built where Martin Shores had been planned, was to be a whites only community. New York based developers Morty and Babe Wolosoff, built the subdivision after buying the land for it in 1956, with Walter Fuller as broker. The Wolosoff brothers decided to make a m arina the centerpiece of their development after learning that every docking venue in St. Petersburg was full and had a waiting list. Finished by the late 1950s, Maximo Moorings promoters billed the docking facility as the w orld s largest c overed m arina. D redge crews pulled up muck from the bottom of a Boca Ciega Bay inlet, using it t o fill low spots in the subdivision. 118 Land From Water The practice of creating land from water dredging up bay bottom and using it to Aquil interview by Jon Wilson about Twenty second Street South, St. Petersburg, February 21, 2002; Peck interview ; Arsenault, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream 270, 272. 117 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Population and Housing, 1950 8, online at www. census .gov/prod/www/abs/decennial/ 1950 .htm accessed February 6, 2009 and General Characteristics of the Population, 1960 11 29 online at www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/11085788v1p11ch3.pdf accessed February 6, 2009 ; Petersburg website, http://www.stpete.org/neighborhoods/nnwil .asp accessed September 7, 2009. 118 City of St. Petersburg website, http://www.stpete.org/neighborhoods/nnmaximo.asp accessed May 10, 2009.

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66 build new acreage to be developed profile resource use controversies of the 1950s. The clash pitted the forces of development and consumption against those of a nascent ecological movement. The developers proceeded acked the bay, damaging a prolific fishery and destroying valuable sea grass as they turned Boca Ciega Bay into a muddied mess of fingerlike keys. Houses sprouted on newly dredged banks that jutted from the mainland or rose from the middle of the bay off S t. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, and Redington Beach. Bay quality deteriorated until environmental watchdogs around the state and nation pointed to it as a disgraceful example of poor planning and the consequences of un bridled growth. 119 Eventually, people who worried about the environment got fed up. Debate, legal challenges, and hearings echoed from city halls to federal chambers, as all levels of government became involved. Gov. LeRoy Collins favored regulating develo pment operations in waters such as Boca Ciega Bay; St. Petersburg Times owner Nelson Poynter became a staunch Collins ally, launching a news and editorial crusade critical of dredge and fill practices. A major focus became the so atner bay bottom between St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Beach. Despite expert testimony that development on the fill would devastate marine life, Pinellas County commi ssioners 119 John Rothchild, Up For Grabs: A Trip Through Time and Space in the Sunshine State (New York : Viking Penguin Inc., 1985), 33 34; Stephenson, 126 132.

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67 administit ration did not stop Ratner from proceeding. His dredging work ended in 1961, 961 provided land for the Pinellas Bayway, which linked Pass a Grille and St. Petersburg to Mullet Key Fort DeSoto State Park. 120 Another dredge and fill battle took place on Tampa Bay in northeastern St. Petersburg, where developers planned an upscale, 600 home waterfront community called Venetian Isles, situated at the north end of Shore Acres, an existing subdivision. Many Shore Acres residents opposed the development and the Times backed them up. professor who also testified in favor of the Ratner development, said only raccoons and birds would suffer from the fill and that it would clear out a mosquito breeding ground; consulting engineer Herbert Gee vowed that the development would bring $24 million in taxable home value to city and county rolls In a concent rated show of opposition to a city project during the 1950s, residents protested the fill vigorously, standing up for natural beauty rather than development. Said a Times professional proponent, and those who have an indirect in terest, call the area a swampland any who have seen it from the water, or looking out at Mermaid Point and no avail. The project received approval but actual buildin g did not begin until 1968. 121 120 Stephenson, 136 139; Times Times January 1, 1961, 1B. 121 St. Petersburg Times Times July 11, 1958, 11B; http://www.stpete.org/neighborhoods/nnven.asp

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68 Sixty second Avenue North, roughly between Ninth Street and Twentieth Street. Originally pasture land for dairy cattle, a chunk of it was purchas ed by Johnny Haynesworth. Haynesworth, who started as a plumber, became president of Florida Shopping Center at Ninth Street North and Sixty second Avenue. Financing much of the development was First Federal Savings and Loan. The partnership between First Federal family homes b uilt largest building firm in terms of the number of dwellings finished. 122 Even more impressive was the empire built by James Rosati. Born in 1898 in New York City, Rosati began his Florida career at age 50 in Tampa, where he built 196 houses in the Belmar subdivision. He transferred his operation to St. Petersburg in 1950 and developed 400 residential subdivisio n in at least twenty years. The former Long Island road contractor then took his operation a few miles north, developing nearly 200 homes in the Orange Hill subdivision near Fifty Fourth Avenue North and Forty Ninth Street, an unincorporated area between St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park. He went on to build Orange Estates, with 253 homes, and he was the first Florida west coast developer to create an orange grove subdivision, marketing the idea that any homeowner could have orange trees in his or her front yard. But his crowning achievement came in 1955, when accessed September 7, 2 009 Times November 13, 1958, 6A. 122 Jack Y. Williams interview by Jon Wilson about 1950s St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, April 15, 2009

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69 he opened Orange Lake Village, a 1,090 home community on 240 acres in Seminole. The development caused an upsurge in home values in the immediate vicinity, and in 1957, NBC did a major documentary on t he subdivision. The show portrayed Orange Lake Village as the ideal retirement community, and was shown all over the world, providing yet another promotional vehicle for St. Petersburg and its immediate environs. 123 artificial reef off the Pinellas shoreline, using thirty tons of broken concrete, pipes, and junk automobiles. 124 The new subdivisions chang ed and subtropical shrubs, planted in newly placed St. Augustine turf feel for new residents, but did not offer the languid shade produced by massive oaks and of a new St. Petersburg. Family life had shifted from the 1920s bungalow with a front porch to television and the Florida room. Many homes came with backyard patios (or residents soon installed them), but there were virtually no porches suitable for sitti ng and watching the world or go by. Ev en if neighbors happened to be walking, they would do so in the street; few sidewalks were being built partly because of difficulty in getting the city to give up right of way, said Williams, the Florida Builders executive; but primarily because it was quicker and less costly for developers to proceed without installing the walkways. City policy seemed to Ross Windom affirmed that residents would have to pay for their own sidewalks if they 123 Lynn B. Clarke, undated typescript in St. Petersburg Times research library. 124 Memo, Lynn B. Clarke to Douglas Doubleday, May 31, 1961, Times research library.

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70 wanted them; according to Windom, such a policy was typical nationwide. 125 on exemplified a truth of St. Petersburg city government of the makers offered no dissent in regard manager governing system, an able city manager such as Wi ndom could run the municipality nearly as he saw fit. Of course, almost all City Council members had strong ties to the business community anyway; from 1945 until 1963, hoteliers, realtors or their friends, and lawyers tied to business interests held sway Times editorial that council has abdicated its leadership to Manager Windom. Since the manager is a strong and 126 With sidewalks and porches scarce, new Floridians found the ambience conducive to staying inside and watching I Love Lucy or the Ed Sullivan Show. By 1958, St. Petersburg had four stations, counting the new educational channel, from which to choose. But Times page, told the story. The last wild deer in the county, a 160 pound buck, had been shot dead near Lake Tarpon. The item ran with a small cartoon showing a deer with wings and a halo, and carrying (North) Pole The prevailing attitude during this time of galloping growth apparently relegated rapidly vanishing wildlife to snickering humor. 127 No such levity accompanied the invasion of a tinier form of wildlife: the 125 St. Petersburg Times March 23, 1957, 17. 126 St. Petersburg Times May 22, 1957, 29. 127 St. Petersburg Times

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71 mosquito. Palmetto bugs, more commo nly called cockroaches, merely startled and disgusted new homebuyers; mosquitoes could make them miserable. By 1950, the Pinellas County Anti Mosquito Board boasted four large fogging machines, which at night traveled streets on the beaches and in cities, killing mosquitoes on the wing. The machines sprayed a toxic mix of DDT powder and No. 2 fuel oil. The so war cost county taxpayers $119 per day. 128 But the effort was not enough to beat back the pesky and prolific anopheles. In 1955, the in development. Asked the Times city, people could not stand outside long enough to catch a bus. A Snell Isle neighborhood group offered to finance and operate its own spray truck. Residents sold new homes because they found the blood sucking pests unbearable, and others advised their friends and families up north not to move to St. Petersburg or even visit. The Times to be done, but the question was, who? St. Petersburg city government declared it was the j ob of the county, which by 1955 was spending just nine cents per person on mosquito control, the lowest amount in the state. Meanwhile, budget woes and mosquito board political battles hampered the eradication effort. 129 128 Times August 12, 1950, 13. 129 St. Petersburg Times September 2, Times August 4, 000 On New Bid, Times August 4, 1955, 23; Times August 22, 1955, 18 ; 1; Times

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72 Drainage ditches to get rid of s tanding water and aerial spraying with airplanes loaded with parathion and malathion were among other measures used to combat the bugs, but late in the postwar period, mosquitoes still posed a major problem. In 1956, the mosquito legions retreated to some degree. Even so, during the summer months giant to 1,656 aerosol bombs, 7,632 bottles of the trademarked 6 12 repellant, and 3,745 repellant sticks. If there were a r Council and the Chamber of Commerce called for help. In response and in the wake of ten encephalitis deaths the Pinellas County Health Department announced another massive control program. Dr. W.C Ballard, health department director, said the cooperation with neighborhood associations go h ouse to house to inspect backyards and look for other possible breeding places. Early the next year. City Manager Lynn Andrews announced a $40.6 million capital improvements program that included intensive control measures, giving residents some hope that substantial relief was forthcoming, late but nonetheless welcome in a city edging nearer 200,000 population. 130 New Industrial Might St. Petersburg Times business writer Douglas Doubleday vowed that May 21, 130 St. Petersburg Times Sept ember 1, 1962, 1B Times Mosquito Warriors On Times h Service Dusting Plane Hits Baby Times July 8, 1956, 8B.

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73 journalist had a point. On that date, General E lectric Co. announced its intention to build a plant just north of the city west of U.S. Highway 19 at the intersection of Brian Dairy and Belcher Roads. Even though another technical industry the Hamilton Standard Division of United Aircraft had begu n a design and engineering operation earlier in the year, it was the giant, influential company from Schenectady, N.Y. that stamped St. Petersburg and its environs as a place for new, modern industry sans smokestacks, Fuller, a developer in addition to being a real estate man and during the 1950s, a city paid engineers and technicians with white collars, slide rules, and test tubes i nstead of horny handed men in overalls with greasy tools in the ir 131 its traditional appeal as a resort, its mid twentieth century homebuild ing surge, its services to retirees, and to a much smaller extent, what was left of its agricultural enterprises. GE paved the way for an influx of new enterprise that solidified the 1950s boom, validated the residential housing swell, and bolstered the lo foundation. On July 26, 1956, Minneapolis Honeywell announced it would join GE and Hamilton Standard. Sperry Rand and Electronics Communications Inc. soon would be on their way. The big five eventually would be supported by perhaps twenty sub contractors, revolution is finding no greater success than in mid 131 St. Petersburg Times May 25, 1957, 27; Fuller, 216.

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74 Tampa Tribune the primary media outlet for Hillsborough County, which often found pleasant ambience, in part because several business groups worked hard to pe rsuade companies based in the north to relocate. St. Petersburg groups providing steady and efficient boosterism included the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce under William de partment, and the Pinellas County Committee of 100. All specialized in selling St. Petersburg as a desirable place to live and work 132 That four of the five bellwether enterprises were outside St. Petersburg city limits did not seem to matter. The economic boost they brought flowed throughout the area. For example, St. Petersburg in 1956 57 set records in housing starts, bank account totals, power, water, and telephone customers, and postal receipts. Meanwhile, the new s top spot in job increases for 1957, the same year Pinellas passed Hillsborough County for the first time in total retail sales, according to Sales Management payrolls spiraled upward on an economi Business leaders hailed the success as important first steps that they hoped would lead to more companies bringing their commercial and industrial enterprise. 133 But objective income figures tended to sugges t that, despite increasing payrolls and jobs, St. Petersburg was not that well off compared to the rest of the urban United 132 Tampa Tribune October 6, 1957, 1B. 133 St. Petersburg Times March 27, 1958, 1B; Don Warn Times, 1B.

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75 median family income per year rose from $ 3,017 in 1949 to 4,232 in 1959 (40 perc ent) compared to urban 3,335 to $ 4,956 (48 percent) Nationally, the urban United States figure rose from $ 4,210 to $ 6,166 (46 percent) The city planning department report that cited the dollar numbers were a result of many residents d epending on pensions for the ir only source of incom e, arguing that the numbers did not necessarily mean St. Petersburg was less Although the median incomes for St. Petersburg in the 1960 census were low, according to national levels, these figures cannot be construed as an absolute measure of wealth the report asserted. It went on to cite $800 million plus in estimated bank deposits in St. Petersburg and poin ted out that Pinellas as a whole ranked second only to Dade County, which had a much larger population. In addition it was noted that one in three St. Petersburg residents owned corporate stock, citing a New York Stock Exchange survey that ranked St. Pet 134 Space age competition that brought new industry also affected curricul a in Pinellas County schools. Accelerated courses were offered as early as junior high school, with Latin, Spanish, algebra, geom etry, and biology offered to selected students in grades seven through nine. The approach sometimes strained faculty; for example, at Lealman Junior High School ality consisted of a series of humdrum textbook readings. Meanwhile, the school district was feeling the strain of accommodating an expanding student population a record $18 million budget included no pay increases for teachers, in part because 222 new i nstructors were needed to keep pace with an anticipated 134 St. Petersburg Times

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76 enrollment increase of 6,000 students. Meanwhile, the State Board of Education approved $1.1 million in bonds to build a new high school, as yet unnamed, in northwest St. Petersburg. When completed, t he school was named for Dixie M. Hollins, Pinellas 135 The somewhat exotic, science retirement according to a newspaper article. But ironically, the decade that brought new industry, educational levels. In 1950, males over 25 had completed an average o f 11.1 years of education; by 1960, the figure had dropped to 10.6. For the same period, females over 25 had dropped from 11.9 years to 11.3. The city planning department report referenced above again credited or blamed retirees for the drop, saying i apparently the result of in City leaders heralded the coming of Florida Presbyterian in 1958 as an educational boon for the city. Business executives who brought in new industr y also worked to lure the college, and trustees cited the willingness of industry to work with the college as a reason for its coming. Good transportation, plans for a civic auditorium, and a growing pool of potential college applicants in local schools al so helped woo the college trustees. 136 The industrial surge continued in 1958. Among new enterprises that created approximately 5,000 new jobs in St. Petersburg or just outside the city limits were a new General Cable Corp. plant and the City Bank and Trus t Co. in downtown St. Petersburg. 135 St. Petersburg Times March 11, 1958, 1B; Gardner, Times 136 St. Petersburg Times October 4, 1964 ; Times

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77 Kane Furniture and the Times Publishing Co. opened new operations on U.S. 19, First Federal Savings and Loan doubled its space on Central Avenue, General Telephone opened a huge new building on Arlington Avenue and Ninth S treet North, and Florida Power inaugurated its Paul L. Bartow Plant on Weedon Island, part of a $96 million expansion the company had announced in 1950. Meanwhile, Pinellas International Airport expanded in 1956 to meet growing transportation needs. U.S. R ep. William C. Cramer joined county commissioners in turning over the first shovels of dirt for a $343,500 modern terminal building. The airfield, originally built by the county and used as a World War II training base, had the only commercial runway on Fl coast, other than Tampa International Airport. The Pinellas airport was used by both passenger and freight aviation. 137 The sea of new houses, a flood of new residents, and a wave of new industry its demographics. But a lingering question, sometimes overshadowed as St. Petersburg grew outward, was what would become of the old downtown. 137 St. Petersburg Times December 27, 1958, 1B; Time mill ion In Nine July 21, 1950, 11.

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78 Chapter Four: Downtown, Dead or Alive? the land use rules necessary to create Central Plaza He knew the shopping center would change the habits of St. Petersburg consumers, leading th em away from downtown and undermining the commercial hegemony of the old city center, a product of the 1920s boom. But several years after opening, the downtown appeared on its surface, at least to be holding its own even as it began to show its age. A case in point was the 1958 Festival of States celebration. An estimated 300,000 people packed the mile square district to see the annual three hour parade that featured Col. Paul Tibbetts, the B 29 pil ot who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In a burst of hyperbole, the morning newspaper had forecast a parade route audience of one million. The crowd did not swell to such a figure. But even o ne third the predicted turnout put spectators ten deep alon g a strip of Central Avenue, The number of spectators demonstrated that the downtown, at least on special occasions, retained appeal, and a reporter who had experienced every parade since 1935 declared it the most vib rant he had seen. 138 City leaders used the sunshine festival like a hammer to pound the idea of St. Petersburg as a place to find the good life. Even the 1958 Polk City Directory contributed 138 St. Petersburg Times March 29, 1958, 1B.

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79 paeans, publishing introductory articles that might have been wr itten by pitchmen paid to praise the city. One offered this prescription for frostbitten northerners: St. Petersburg is just what the doctor ordered for these hectic times -health giving sunshine and warm breezes in the sub tropics at the ti me of year when the rest of America within the temperate zone is fighting off Arctic snows and winds. 139 Newspapers also helped with glowing stories, many destined to be read up north as visitors took editions home or mailed them to relatives. Th e old business district generally lay between the Fifth Avenues North and South, bounded by Tampa Bay on the east and Ninth Street on the west. The boundaries, of course, were not fixed in any sense; businesses considered part of the downtown dynamic often operated a few blocks beyond the informal lines. News of record, advertising, and detailed guides such as city directories suggested entertainment value By the 1950s, the d owntown had developed serious flaws, but it was far from dead. Indeed, it still had a chance to reinvent itself as an attractive areas For example, Maas Brothers Department Store, ten years old in 1958, was proving that customers would come to the old city center to shop Other attributes were also present that, if properly utilized, might have helped the downtown lure new residents who were moving in miles away from the Maas Brothers the flagship retail outlet, occup ied most of a city block and s old clothing, shoes, and household goods of all kinds. It offered a music department, a lunch 139 Polk City Directory 1958, ix

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80 counter, and a second floor restaurant that offered customers free birthday meals. B argain basement sales drew throngs. During one such page advertisements in a single edition of the St. Petersbur g Times. Nor was the popular store alone in its field; at least seven other department stores, some of which were part of national chains, maintained outlets downtown. Several had survived the Great Depression, a distinction that suggested adaptability and consumer appeal but also tended to underscore their venerability, and perhaps the somewhat mossback nature of some downtown institutions. The time tested 1950s stalwarts included Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, Rutland s, Wi l lson Chase, Sierkese McCrory, Kress, cutting edge. It had enlarged and restocked its music store and t o mark the expansion, Doc Webb scheduled appe arances by a bevy of popular, national recording artists Juniors, and Jody Reynolds. 140 Besides the range of department stores, five banks and four savings and loan institutions o perated in or near downtown. Virtually every major American automobile manufacturer was represented in the seven dealerships along Ninth Street. Seven downtown theaters (including one for African Americans) showed a variety of movies: first run to B flicks second time arounders to art films. The 750 seat State Theater opened in 1950, one of thirteen new movie houses built that year in Florida. T he cavernous Florida Theater was the largest in town When it opened in 1926, it became St. r conditioned building. It could seat more than 3,000 and boasted a 140 St. Petersburg Times June 7, 1958, 6C

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81 stage, a movable orchestra pit, and in its earlier years, a three story Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Whatever movie happened to be playing was only part of the theater experience, which include d lobbies f illed with armor, tapestries, oil paintings of Spanish galleons, and huge, lighted mirrors that made the rooms seem even larger. 141 A half dozen cafeterias fed shoppers and winter visitors who stayed in a handful of large hotels and dozens of smaller hostelries and rooming houses. Professional offices, mom and pop businesses, and a score of restaurants and small cafes added to the activity. Virtua instruments, sheet music, and lessons. Williams Park and green benches provided if you were white informal public gathering spots. There was a n architecturally gracefu l public library with a garden reading area a recreation pier on a gorgeous public waterfront, a baseball park, and several Protestant and Catholic churches that drew large congregations. 142 A s population, housing starts, and dollar building totals rem ained impressive m fashioned, tourist oriented persona persevered. Weekly open air forums took place at Williams Park, the Municipal Pier offered free public programs including sing along s and clubs centered around states and sometim es cities such as Akron, Ohio and Ferndale, Mich. conducted regular luncheons and entertainment programs. A shuffleboard column was published at least weekly on Times sports pages, a 141 St. Petersburg Times June 19, http://cinematreasures.org/theater/13464/ accessed Jan. 27, 2009; Box Office July 22, 1950, 8 ( http://issuu.com/boxoffice/docs/boxoffice_072250 1/70 accessed January 27, 2009. 142 Polk City Directory 1958, 214 309.

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82 nod to the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club and its typically older membe rship numbering in the thousands. 143 Many activities were geared for the enjoyment of the elderly, whose dominating presence downtown had begun to worry city leaders interested in building a more youthful image. for senior citizens, a Times The business community writhed each time a national publication added to the warped 144 National publications included a 1958 edition of Holiday whose writer declared, Life which published a caption under a photo of bench sitting elderly old people pass the time listlessly on a St. Petersburg, Florida sidewalk. Time magazine piled on, too. In an article that professed to be about the careful newspaper reading habits of the elderly, Time nonetheless managed to raise in the first two paragraphs old stereotypes and new indignities. The article referenced newspaper obituary space increasing in autumn because of elderly winter reading); an 145 The large elderly population, twenty eight percent age sixty five or older, according to the federal census, was one among several big questions the downtown 143 St. Petersburg Times March 1, 1958 April 5, 195 8, various pages; Douglas Doubleday, St. Petersburg Times, Sunrise 200 ( St. Petersburg: Times Publishing Co., 1975 ) 74. 144 Bothwell 74. 145 Maria Vesperi, City of Green Benches: Growing Old in a New Downtown ( Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986), 40; Time

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83 faced. For one thing, it had experienced just one major piece of development since the 1920s boom: Maas Brothers. Many of its hotels, theaters, and business buildings dated from that era and were beginning to show wear. The Carnegie Library, with its garden reading area providing a pleasant venue on Mirror Lake, non etheless was of 1915 vintage and was beginning to show signs of age Meanwhile, traffic and parking remained a problem, and streets were deteriorating. Traffic jams were not uncommon. On an early spring day in 1957, for police had to call out a special detail to direct vehicles at seven intersections on Central Avenue and First Avenues North and South. The extra manpower did no good; police were unable to cope with the massive jam. Lieutenant Harold Smith attributed the tie up the beaches, and several minor accidents in the congested area. Motorists were spending several minutes negotiatin g a single block, Smith said. 146 record number of gross receipts -$175,000. But overall, the situation was symptomatic of a greater problem, said an urban renewal proponen t, and could hinder downtown developer Joe Bonsey the biggest traffic problem of any city its siz T he city, declared a prescient Bonsey chair must give its central core the same consideration it 146 St. Petersburg Times March 6, 1957, 25.

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84 was giving to outlying areas if i t expected to attract new enterprise downtown and be fair to enterprise already there. At the same time, Bonsey was interested in the new dynamic further west. He had proposed a $1 million hotel restaurant bowling alley development on 34 th Street South a f ew blocks from the new Central Plaza. 147 In fact, city leaders wrestled with the notion of redevelopment downtown but it was not clear what direction they wanted to take. Among proposals under consideration were a one way street grid and a Central Avenue pedestrian mall. City Manager Ross Windom, Mayor John D. Burroughs, and city council members were negotiating to get the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Railroad systems out of the downtown area, tying city yacht basin that also served as a Jim Crow beach for African Americans. Windom also had proposed selling the city gas plant, marked by ugly twin cylinders towering over an African American neighborhood marred by substandard housing. Also under discussion was a waterfront civic auditorium. 148 The reality was that the downtown veiled a creeping decay beneath a surface vitality. Agi ng structures, parking and traffic difficulties, a growing discontent with the elderly population, and a dearth of new or updated commercial attractors all suggested a need for new direction or at the very least, an array of possible options. Leaders cal led for a professional study. It came by way of a visionary named Victor Gruen. 147 Ibi d; St. Petersburg Times ,April 5, 1958, 4B Times ,June 7, 1958, 1B; 148 S t. Petersburg Times March 9, 1958, B Times April 3, 1958, 1 B.

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85 The Man with the Plan Victor David Gruen was born in 1903 in Vienna, Austria. He studied architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. He liked to perform satirical th pre war cabarets, but as a Jew and a socialist, had to flee the Nazis in 1938. One of Zurich, Switzerland. The couple reached England and then sailed fo r America. They landed in New York, as Gruen liked to recall in later years, 149 It did not take long for the ambitious emigrant to succeed. With other expatriates, he formed the Refugee Artists G roup, which received financial support from such entertainment luminaries as Richard Rodgers and Al Jolson. Irving Berlin guided their musical efforts. Gruen himself wangled a letter of recommendation from no less a personage than Albert Einstein. By 1939, the group had hit Broadway, playing eleven weeks at the Music Box. Gruen soon made a leap back into architecture after running into an old Vienna friend who wanted to open a Fifth Avenue leather boutique. Gruen designed a revolutionary storefront with an arcade entrance that stood out among traditional storefronts flush with the street. He went on to design other stores in Manhattan and the Bronx, before designing Northland, an outdoor shopping center on us project, and the one that earned 149 The New Yorker, March 15, 2004, http://www.newyorker .com/archive/2004/03/15/040315fa_fact1 accessed August 17 2009.

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86 winter: in other words, the archetypal mall that c hanged the direction of American retailing. 150 futuristic planner came up with was more th an the city fathers had bargained for, and as been three days since I was briefed on this plan, and ideas in connection with it are still popping into my head. It was impressive and 151 The relationship did se em a mismatch: Relatively provincial St. Petersburg Hills, Calif. A magazine writer described Gruen as a as mica and a mind as fas ; an entrepreneur who could cajole a letter of entre from Einstein might have been equally persuasive in acquiring a contract from ambitious small city officials. 152 It turned out that St. Petersburg was not ready for Gruen. The creative Austr plan called for a complete revamping of downtown, spread over twenty years. Its most startling suggestion was to eliminate completely auto traffic from downtown, relying instead on a loop road around the central business district with electric cars e mployed to 150 Ibid. 151 St. Petersburg Times June 2, 1957, 1B. 152 Gladwell ibid.

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87 shuttle people from five major parking areas. The plan included a civic, cultural, and governmental center around Mirror Lake, enhanced recreation on the Tampa Bay waterfront, a large central freight terminal in African American residential area s near downtown, a civic center railroad tracks and doing something about the congested traffic should have had special appeal to leaders who had been complaining for years about exactly tho se elements. But the overall redesign seemed too exotic. As a city planning department report a year later Additionally, said the city report, the plan had failed to capture the public imagination 153 In a further irony, the planning department report contained a new downtown redesign that i ncorporated such Gruen concepts as a civic auditorium, waterfront recreation, and a pedestrian mall that, while not eliminating traffic, would make the downtown friendlier to shoppers and sight a network of o ne way streets, underground placement of utilities, and two multistory parking garages. They also proposed a timeline, with many changes to be completed within seven years, and in what presaged the eventual arrival of the interstate highway effe Times publisher Nelson Poynter in a retrospective column years later. 154 153 Victor Gruen and Associates, St. Petersburg CBD Study June, 1957, 36, 43, 46; St. Petersburg Department of City Planning, Central Core Plan August, 1958, 2. 154 St. Petersburg Department of City Planning, 14, 19, 21, 25, 30 31.

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88 Integration on the Horizon The 1950s brought se g regation policy in the annual Festival of States Parade for the first time in 1954. The same year, Dr. Robert J. Swa crossed the line by opening an office twenty five feet over the designated boundary, Fifteenth Avenue South. The city at first refused to issue a building permit for the office, but relented when Swain threatened to sue. The first black dentist to open an office anywhere in the city, and the first African American to open a pharmacy, Swain also buil t a six unit apartment next to the office at 1501 Twenty Second Street South. The York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals, who were forbidden during spring training to stay back to haunt the city in 1962, when the Yankees moved their spring training headquarters to Fort Lauderdale; the Jim Crow hotel situation has been cited as among the reaso ns.) 155 The most dramatic step in the civil rights arena came in 1955, when six African Americans sued the city government to end segregation at downtown bathing sites. Both Spa Beach and the indoor pool at the Spa, situated on the approach to the Municipal Pier, were reserved for whites only. A beach for people of color was situated a few blocks 155 St. Petersburg Times Sept. 14, 1997, Neighborhood Times section, 6; Associated Press New York Times St. Petersburg Times Ma y 12, 1996, 1A.

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89 railroad tracks and was also used as a storage site by the city. Rubble cluttered the beach and bathhouse facilities were too small. On April 1, 1957, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Fred Alsup, Ralph Wimbish, Willet Williams, Naomi Williams, Chester James Jr., and Harold Davis. In theory, the swimming spots now were open; in practice, they remained closed to African Americans. This development was important because if successfully integrated, it would represent a major crack in the city business di The city government wanted no part of any change. When eight young African Americans decided to test the court ruling by visiting Spa Beach on June 5, 1958, City Manager Ross Windom closed it after the youths use d locker facilities and spent about forty minutes on the beach. Two police officers patrolled the site to enforce the ban. Said of our local Negro leaders, and their t governmental leaders throughout tow ns and cities where African Americans challenged integration; white officials tended to blame outsiders or deviant thinkers for instigating group who went to the Spa w ere ill

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90 156 The St. Petersb urg Times was among the first newspapers in the south to support slavery from which it stemmed, and in 1954 the newspaper endorsed the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that pav ed the way for school integration. But the newspaper took a rather mild stand in regard to the Spa suit. The newspaper encouraged the establishment of more bathing sites for black people, but stopped short of supporting integration at the Spa facilities, a nd indeed, seemed to imply segregated swimming ought to be the norm. Said personal preference and neighborhood considerations will lead Negro citizens to use certain of the beaches and whites others. Both races will feel more at home among their 157 The eight African Americans who went to the beach had St. Petersburg addresses, and were college students or graduates: Morgan Eugene Richards, 22, a registered pharmacist; Otto Karl Woodbury, 24, a Florida A&M student; Nathan Holmes, 19, a waiter; Allen Williams Jr., 23, a Morehouse College graduat e; Betty Harden, 18, a student at Talladega College; Bettye Fluker, 22, a Florida A&M student; Victoria Monroe, 22, who had attended Florida A&M; and Bertha Dancil, 18, 5 Ozark Court, a Gibbs Junior College student. 156 Jerry Blizin St. Petersburg Times June 6, 1958, 1B. 157 The Times and its times St. Petersburg Times July 25, 1984, special section, 66; Times June 7, 1958, 4A.

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91 Ralph Wimbish, a physician and one of the original plaintiffs in the suit to open temporary. I am proud of those young people and their courage in exercising a privilege granted them by the U.S. Su preme Court. The city has had more than a year since the Spa suit was decided in which to provide the Negroes with a decent bathing beach. None has been forthcoming. In fact, since I was a child here, I have heard nothing but procrastination on this subjec t from City Hall. If they had given us a decent beach, no 158 Segregation also ruled at public beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. Other than the South Mole, the only other bathing facility for Afr ican Americans was a swimming pool at Wildwood Park. The pool opened in the 1950s after Jennie Hall, a white woman, donated $25,000 to make it possible. 159 On June 8, 19 year old David Isom a recent graduate of Gibbs High School, Isom said. The cashier who sold Isom a 35 cent admission ticket said she had orders to five white people already were in the pool when Isom entered. They paid little attention to Isom, and Isom said he was treated politely by everyone present. Tommy Chinnis, the head lifeguard on duty, said the youth Nonetheless, when Isom left after about twenty minutes in the 160 158 Blizin, June 6, 1958. 159 St. Petersburg Times June 6, 1958, 1. 160 St. Petersburg T imes June

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92 During an era when the Little Rock, Ark., Central High School integration crisis remained fresh in mind along with the sight of troops on Little Rock streets St. ch visits. No jeering crowds greeted the youths, whom city workers described as courteous and polite. A white man tried to ignore the no swimming edict at Spa Beach was and was arrested. Homemade, crude crosses were found marked with the letters KKK to imp ly the Ku Klux Klan had left them, and one 4 foot cross was burned on the Vinoy Fill across the Vinoy Basin from the Spa facilities. A caption underneath a newspaper photo of the cross suggested youngsters conducting a high school graduation prank may ha ve set the cross alight. 161 On June 10, acting in a specially called caucus, the City Council voted . and since the city Dr. Fred W. Alsup, one of the plaintiffs in the original suit, said the swimming site closures would likely result in another court suit. Mea nwhile, the Committee of 100, a group whose mission was to attract new businesses to the area, urged quick action to establish a segregated beach for African Americans near the Gandy Bridge. 162 Windom decided to reopen the beach and pool on Sept. 3. The nex t day, Bertha Dancil, one of the young black women who had tested the waters with seven others on June 5, used Spa Beach again. The city took no action and Windom described Dancil merely as seeking publicity. But the next day, four African Americans used the locker 161 Blizin, Times June 7; Blizin, Times, June 10. 162 St. Petersburg Times June 10, 19 58, 1B.

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93 room and used the beach to swim for about twenty minutes. Once again, Windom closed the beach, but left the pool open. This time, the beach remained closed until Jan. 7, 1959, when the Council voted 4 3 to reopen it. It was a halfway measure tak en without regard hotel interests who pointed out that guests wanted to swim, and without Spa Beach, there would be no downtown beach available to them. The Council als o made it clear that meaning that segregation, in theory, was to stay in effect. In fact, a few blacks used the beach occasionally but generated virtually no attention. Closure came when four African Americ an youths visited the beach in the spring of 1959. George K. Armes, the new city manager, recommended the beach stay open unless there was trouble and there was none. Mayor John D. Burroughs 163 The hotel interests by no mean s implied that they encouraged integration. Indeed, while the Spa controversy played out, the St. Petersburg Hotel Association brazenly asked the city to sign over its multi million dollar, twenty acre North Shore Beach for use as a segregated facility r ent free for the first seven years. At Thirteenth Avenue Northeast on Tampa Bay, North Shore was just a few blocks north of downtown, reachable by a short shuttle ride or, for energetic hotel guests, by a pleasant walk. The proposal emerged after secret me etings between city officials and hotel men, prompting piqued citizens to wonder whether the hotel industry truly represented the interests of the Times. The question never was answered fully, 163 St. Petersburg Evening Independent September 12, 1958, 14; Evening Independent April 29, 1959, 1B.

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94 although one attempt included an analysis of United Fund contributions, which claimed the hotel interests donated less than one percent of the total $596,026 quota set for the city. The council to 164 In a tumultuous year that saw Windom resign, yet another controversy swirled around the Spa site. For years, a civic auditorium had been on the planning table as a downtown amenity, and some city officials pr oposed to situate it on Spa Beach. It was not a popular solution among residents, who bombarded City Hall with petitions against the idea. The Council of Neighborhood Associations led the opposition. At the urging of Mayor John Burroughs, the City Council rescinded its Spa site choice, offering instead a stunning proposal to put the auditorium on North Shore Beach another idea that went nowhere. Windom, meanwhile, offered no reason for his surprise resignation other than a good reviews, Windom had served for ten years, longer than any other St. Petersburg city one disgruntled person . or any pressure group change everything, I would tell them what they could do Windom left because of a dilatory council, it also because he could see desegregation 164 St. Petersburg Times Want Lease of North Shore Beach Times December 12, 1 9 Times Times De Times September 18, 1961, 3B.

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95 said. 165 Urban Renewal Or Not? As the officials and residents tried to adjust their thinking to the gradual dawning of integration, another racially charged issue divided the city: urban renewal, a governmental euphemism for slum clearance. In St. Petersburg, slums usually were associated with African American residential areas, particularly in Methodist Town and the Gas Plant neighborhood both on the edge of a downtown struggling to assert itself. Urban renewal projects to improve housing for poo r, black people often came wrapped in altruistic prose, which, to be sure, sometimes was sincere. But at the same time, powerful leadership elements, including the morning newspaper, were not comfortable with black communities in close proximity. They want elsewhere, and clearance Such thought had prompted the St. Petersburg Times a generation earlier to wish for a 166 For several decades of its existence, St. Petersburg leaders did not admit that it harbored slums. For example, in 1924 xenophobic and anti Semitic Chamber of Petersburg . i f we allow foreigners to make this their home, there inevitably will be 165 St. Petersburg Times Leaders Deplore Loss to City, Times Times imes Dec. 28, 1958; Geoffrey Drummond, T imes September 23, 1958, 3B. 166 St. Petersburg Evening Independent July 29, 1924, 1; St. Petersburg Times

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96 leaders recognized a problem, admitting that areas of ramshackle housing had been festering for years. In the same 1935 African Americans, the St. Petersburg Times A city c ouncil proposal to move African Americans west of Sixteenth Street did not Negro pro A 1940 Works Progress Administration low income housing survey began noting Town, the Gas P lan t and an area betwe en Sixteenth and Twenty s econd Streets South, the later, working for the Urban League under a Rockefeller Foundation grant, Dr. Warren M. Banner found that fewer tha n one in six African American rental properties had baths or toilets, and that twenty percent of those dwellings had no running water. Banner further found that one in three Africa n American homes needed major repairs. 167 A possible, partial solution emerg ed in 1949. The federal government offered grants to finance 475 units of public housing, including 225 for white people. But first, residents had to vote on whether they wanted to accept the money. Owners of African American rental property, people in the real estate business, and representatives of the building industry mounted a strong campaign against acceptance, including driving 167 St. Petersburg Times June 14, 1944, 6; Stan Times The Banner Report, Times June 29, 1949, 6

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97 voters to the polls. A weak campaign by proponents and a small voter turnout doomed the federal grants; the naysayers won wi th fifty four percent of the vote. 168 M ore than a decade of hand wringing followed. S tudies were issued and debate about minimum housing standards laws rose and fell Two separate urban renewal committees appointed by two different mayors, Samuel G. Johnso n and John D. Burroughs, produced reports analyzing the slum situation but generating no remedial action. No black people served on the committees, and on the 13 member group Burroughs appointed, only three were without some connection to African American gutted it, saying it exceeded police powers. 169 of buildings to keep flames from spread ing many a time . and what do we do the day we get simultaneous big fires in Methodist Town and near Twenty s American neighborhoods, and a 1958 blaze killed tw o small girls. The 1960 federal census said four percent of all dwellings in St. Petersburg had no flush toilets, and another ten percent had incomplete plumbing facilities Almost all of the shortcomings existed in black neighborhoods. But the dithering continued, causing Rexford Stead, director of the 168 St. Petersburg Evening Independent November 18, 1949 1; Ogden Times November 19, 1949, 13. 169 Times January 30, 1958, 2B.)

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98 particularly ironic that our Neg ro citizens are unable to contract for modern homes in attractive neighborhoods in a city where residence construction is the major local 170 Finally, pressed by urban renewal proponents and lobbied by the city government, the state legislature p assed a slum clearance bill for St. Petersburg in 1961. State Senator C.W. Bill Young and State Representatives James Russell and Douglas Loeffler helped push the bill through. But a problem remained: ultimate approval of slum clearance was again up to vot ers. In November 1961 they were asked to let the city buy or condemn slum land and buildings, clear slum land by demolition if necessary, and sell cleared property to private persons or companies for redevelopment. 171 Despite a campaign by the Times to pus h the measure through, including publication of an article that blamed fifty thirty five percent of the crime on the slums, voters again turned thumbs down. One third ly was 14,139 against the urban renewal enabling legislation, 10,756 in favor. An anti government sentiment appeared to be at work. Two days before the referendum, an organization called the Civic Improvement Association urban renewal was a step on the way to socialism. In addition, the referendum came just a few days after voters had received their new tax bills. An $8 million bond issue for 170 Hit St. Petersburg Times, January 26, 1960, 1B. 171 St. Petersburg Times May 27, 1961, 1B.

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99 citywide storm drainage also failed; and as if the fates wanted to twit voters, city streets flooded two w eeks later after a torrential rain. 172 Beaten down in their attempts at slum clearance, downtown boosters did salvage an important victory when the last Atlantic Coast Line train left the First Avenue South depot on June 2, 1963. It was 75 years, nearly to the day, after the first Orange Belt Railroad hailed the departure as equally significant. Now, they believed, a modern downtown could be pursued minus the traffic snarling, ae sthetically displeasing railroad said, on top of everything else, to be a small town anachronism. The Seaboard railroad depot had been gone since 1959, and the streetcar system made its last run in 1949. 173 T ne. Pushing, shoving, and shouting, a crowd estimated at 1,500 stampeded the last train out, clamoring for a ride to the new station near U.S. Highway 19. The ACL had offered the shuttle free of charge, of course as a nod to good civic relations. But r ailroad brass expected only 300 mild mannered citizens. Instead, an agitated battalion surged to board, causing women to scream and children to be pinned against train car sides. Mayor Herman Goldner as worried railroad officials tried to discourage the crowd, warning that there were not enough seats for all. Earlier, 172 St. Petersburg Evening Independent Times Times n Times October 13, 1961, 1B. 173 St. Petersburg Times Municipal Report section, 4; Robert Henderson, Times Choo Times September 15, 1962, 6B; Times January 21, 1959, 1B; James Buckley, Street Railroad s of St. Pet ers burg, Florida (Forty Fort, Pa.: Harold E. Cox, 1983), 32.

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100 of dignitaries, which included Miss St. Petersburg, pulled up two more without instructions to do so, prompting the railroad people to protest that such enthusiastic yanking could strand the train before it could move one block. Eventually, it was able to pull out, heaving with about 900 people aboard. 174 Hundreds of waving spectators lined the 3 mile route to the new station at Thirty Eighth Avenue North and Thirty Second Street. Vice Mayor Nortney Cox, a possible candidate for mayor in the next election, leaned out a door and waved the entire way. 175 Bes suggested less enthusiasm for the older tourists who traditionally had come to downtown b y train since showed either a late blooming affection for the Iron Horse or a lack of respect for what it owever brief, sparked the rowdiness. Miraculously, the Times newspaper declared, the spectacle resulted in no reported injuries. 174 Henderson, ibid 175 Henderson, ibid.

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101 Chapter Five: Changes in Attitudes Clare Carter and Donna Bemis would take no chances. The two Elvis Presley fans were first in line at the Florida Theater to see their idol and they showed up at 4:15 palace. Between dawn and dark on August 7, 1956, 6,500 people, shrieking, awe struck or merely curious, crowded Fifth Street South between Central and First Avenue to see the new entertainment sensation with the sultry style and the grinding hips. The crowd was young and predominantly female. Bobby Barnes was thirteen years old, a bud ding drummer who came to see the spectacle My mom drove me downtown, but, man, I was intimidated. I was the only guy, I got out of the car, and all I saw was girls waiting in line, everywhere, all around the block. It was too much perfume, everything was too sweet, it was something hormonal, y know what I m saying? I got right back in the car. It scared me to death, but I knew something different was going on. entirely tongue in question, and it applied to more than the advent of rock and roll. 176 By the mid 1950s, dramatic change was reshaping staid St. Petersburg. A ballooning pop ulation, burgeoning subdivisions, a new through highway, a bridge link to south Florida, and modern retail and commercial centers cast a new look to what essentially had been a city of the 1920s. But physical, measurably objective change was just one eleme nt. New ideas were altering the subjective landscape. As publicists 176 St. Petersburg Times Times August 8, 1956; Bobby Barnes interview by Jon Wilson about rock and roll bands, St. Petersburg March 10, 1993.

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102 advertised St. Petersburg as a retirement center, civic leaders in an irony they did not seem to recognize In further irony, es pecially in light of all the stewing about the elderly, young people in fact were having a definitive impact in numbers, attitude, and achievement. Just one example was the basketball team of Dixie M. Hollins High School, a new learning center opened in 19 59 to accommodate growing neighborhoods in northwest St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, and the nearby Gulf of Mexico beach communities. In the ification the first such basketball trophies a St. Petersburg school had won since 1933. Segregated Gibbs High School in 1956 won a state football championship for African American schools. Meanwhile, African Americans continued a measured pace toward equal opportunity. After the litigation about Spa Beach, the dithering about its future, its began to emerge. Amid the tangible results of growth and the intangible changes in attitude and psychology, St. Petersburg would have to come to grips with a new identity. about the city in such major northern newspapers as the Chicago Trib une and New York Times in addition to those which appeared in major magazines, were commonplace eagerly embraced, but others suggested St. Petersburg was becoming a modern and interesting maybe even exciting place to live. The wide attention and growing population suggested a challenge would face residents old and new as they created,

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103 consciously or not, a sense of place in a locale born of ballyhoo, frenetically built on booms, populated by people from somewhere else, and injected with a strong shot of mid century cultural change. 177 Out With the Old The notion of placing benches in downtown St. Petersburg began as an early twentieth century promotional gimmick. Their color was standardized as green in 1916 and soon the open air lounges took on a powerful symbolism, cultivated by publicists as benches are to St. Petersburg what t he caf tables on the sidewalks are to the grand boom. During that bustling decade, the Chamber of Commerce campaigned to install more, and between 1921 and 1926, their nu boasted. 178 But by the 1950s, a new generation of leaders was shaping St. Petersburg. Weary of the articles and photographs depicting their city as a rest home, they set about a the 1950s was beg inning his career as an architect. In 1961, the city council passed an 177 St. Petersburg Evening Independent March 12, 1962, 6 New York Times November 19, 1961, 7. 178 S t. Petersburg Times ; St. Petersburg Evening Independent Arsenault, 136 37; Wedding interview

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104 ordinance requiring benches to be painted in rainbow hues: gulf blue, sandrift brown, sunshine yellow, ocean coral, or green. The Junior Chamber of Commerce, supported by the local chap job in the spring. They hoped to be finished by July 4, when holiday festivities might draw attention downtown and attract photographers. Bench users greeted the change with mixed, some 179 The benches were targeted because they seemed inextricably linked with the elderly and because the ancient pairing was seen to be decades. A Chicago Tribune old and weary, specifically mentioning St. Pe tersburg. Opined a student essay published in a 1929 edition of the St. Petersburg Times Central Avenue and in the parks are to blame for many a widow or old maid made supremely happy by finding some innocent male (unwedded) and proving to him that he wspaper cited a Saturday Evening Post were offering rentals for elderly persons o nly. 180 179 St. Petersburg Times May 25, 1961, 1B; Paul Davis, Times St. Petersburg Evening Independent May 31, 1961, 1B. 180 Chicago Tribune January 19, 1936, E8; Dorothea Cunningham, cited in St. Petersburg Times Evening Independent advertisement, November 29, 1910 3; Evening Independent March 21, 1913, 2.

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105 Although St. Petersburg did have an active population of youthful people, article after national article discussing old people waiting on the benches to die colored the Sunshine City gray in the popular culture of the time. An infamous Life magaz ine article in 1959 characterizing lonely and listless old folks on the sidewalks was just one such gibe. Comedians cracked jokes; local chatter sometimes seemed to encourage the anti reader wrote a letter to one newspaper suggesting the benches be collected, piled on the waterfront, and burned. A section of the northern downtown area heavily populated by o the sentiment was talk that portrayed old people on benches as not spending money and st change was 30.9 to 31.2 while the national median dropped from 30.2 to 29.5. ed by 137 percent, compared to 132.9 percent in urban Florida overall and just 34.7 percent in the rest of the urbanized United States. Meanwhile, younger leaders pointed to the popular state societies, senior geared activities on the 1920s era Million Dol lar Pier, and even the Festival of States parade as institutions designed to appeal to a constituency that suddenly appeared to have worn out its welcome. It was, after all, just a few years earlier that promotional films designed to attract retirees were produced and circulated throughout the nation and in some foreign countries. 181 181 St. Petersburg Times St. Petersburg Evening Independent December 29, 1958, 4B; Wedding .

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106 Another of the organized initiatives designed to bring about a more youthful image was Project 61, a blandly labeled campaign designed to generate world wide publicity and brea Project 61, which generated strong civic support, was the brainchild of the Suncoast Advertising Club, whose president was Hal Canning, the St. Petersburg Times national advertising man ager. At sales meetings around the nation, executives from other regions something to be desired. (Advertising) space buyers, agency men made joking remarks. City of the li which he was preparing to show a color film of St. Petersburg to a group of ad 182 To Canning, the last straw came when a 1960 research report said that a sample group of industrial leaders believed fifty percent of St. Petersburg residents were 65 or over far more than the twenty eight percent the 1960 census revealed, or the twenty two percent that census takers counted in 1950. Canning and a few others decided that the city needed a unified effort to wash away the old idea and usher in a new age. Thus four top notch men and welcome to spread the word about a younger city. A beautification committee aimed to plant 10,000 flowering trees. The New York Times declared with a perfectly straight face 182 St. Petersburg Times May 1, 1961, 1B.

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107 183 Indeed, committee members believed they had achieved a large measure of success when the New York Times published a laudatory, full page article late in 1961. The St. Petersburg Times followed two days later with an editorial declaring that the proved that it was po whether the city boosters could sustain the promotional effort or whether a one time feature in a major newspaper would turn the relentless tide of established reputation. For the time be ing, the great northern exposure seemed to validate Project 61, but the local economic well being and future growth, the editorial said, to continue to make retirees feel w rounded community . for persons of 184 Perhaps inevitably, a few enthusiastic boosters trotted out a tried and true icon to suggest youthful vitality: the bathing beauty. The Chamber of Commer agency decided to stage the first Miss American Bikini Queen contest in St. Petersburg in a burst of eye catching 183 New York Times Nov. 19, 1961. 184 November 21, 1961, 10A.

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108 misjudgment that had yet to be widely considered an example of sexist exploitation, the Times published a drawing of a woman wearing a bikini and sprawled across three longside the article announcing the contest, and it did attract attention. Among other protests, a letter from the St. Petersburg Ministerial Association asserted that such a competition would most certainly be in bad taste. Less than a week later, the bik ini contest was scrubbed. 185 From the Ames Brother to Elvis In mid November 1955, St. Petersburg police arrested four youthful gang members three of whom were underage juveniles for shooting holes through the plate glass window of a home in the affluent Coffee Pot Bayou neighborhood. Among the items police seized were a BB air pistol, seven bags of BBs, material for making stink bombs, and two foot long lead filled pipes, one of which appeared to be matted with human hair. (It was, after all, ju st a little more than two weeks after Halloween.) Police said another sixty two cases of assault, vandalism, and armed robbery might be connected to the culprits, who also were found with a note with its four corners burned away and decorated with a red dr awing of a flaming torch. The note threatened to do a resonant phrase during an era in which teen age culture began to take on a new aspect. St. Petersburg was hardly a hotbed of youthful crime. But accounts from across the nation that seemed to reflect a new, harder edged breed of youngsters made some in the city 185 St. Petersburg Times November 3, 1962, 1B; Times November 10, 1963, 6B.

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109 nervous, even as FB I director J. Edgar Hoover warned of a national problem in regard to juvenile criminality. A Times month before Elvis Presley brought his high energy performances to the Florida Theater. 186 The torch gang notwithstanding, few reports of widespread juvenile crime culture throu gh shows such as West Side Story or movies like Blackboard Jungle rarely people clai med membership but which may not have existed. Scant documentation exists for either group. What occasionally did surface were teenage theft rings: groups of youngsters who committed auto parts thefts, house burglaries, unarmed robberies, and purse snatche could take orders for parts and deliver them the next day. Agencies, meanwhile, debated just how serious the juvenile delinquency problem might be. Welfare workers said St. Peters burg (and Pinellas County) delinquency rates were lower than those nationally and an incident at Sixteenth Street Junior High School, three boys 15 to 16 years old beat 186 St. Petersburg Times November 17, 1955, Times Times November 12, 1953, 23.

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110 popular band director Samuel Robinson and threatened him with a butcher knife after they had been expelled on charges of incorrigibility. 187 By the middle of the decade young people in St. Petersburg as they did around the nation tended to define themselves not by gang membership but by a new kind of music. Just a few years before the Presley phenomenon hit, orchestras still played big band style for St. Petersburg postgame dances. Crooners like Perry Como regularly made the local hit parade lists. Black youngsters listened to groups like the which they sometimes called the Pick A Low at Hend second Street South. But by 1956, the Rock and Roll beat had taken hold, although not completely. On November Love Me Tender was the No. 1 record on St. Petersburg radio station WTSP; his el and showed up as Chincherinchee came in No. 5. Popular WTSP disc jockey Bob Hoffer meanwhile, cited in his weekly newspaper column his pick for record of the week: I Saw Esau by the sweet singing Ames Brothers. But the new sound was definitely on the move. Bobby Barnes, the young drummer who fled the Elvis Presley show, described it l only could you hear it, you could feel it. There was a different vibe to it. Not as starchy . It all went from tie wearing polite to something with an edge, 4/4 time instead of 6/8 188 187 Bob Boyle interview by Jon Wilson about street gangs, St. Petersburg January 9, 2009 ; Bill St. Petersburg Times September 3, 1957, 2B; Bob Times Times October 20, 1959, 1B. 188 St. Petersburg Times Times July 1, 1957, 46 Moses Holmes interview by Jon Wilson about Twenty second Street South St. Petersburg, March 14, 2002 ; Barnes interview 1993

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111 St. Petersburg youth embraced heartedly. Car radios blared the hits of the day at such drive th Street; and a Northeast High hangout on Fourth Street North. Dances switched from the orchestras to guitar and drum groups, and teen dances took place at venues around the city, or at least they did for white youths; influential black columnist Calvin Adams reported a dearth of places where African American youngsters could have dances, or for that matter, any other indoor activity. Clean cut singer Pat Boone made inroads among teen agers (and their parents) who appreciated rformance style. When Boone visited St. Petersburg in 1959, fourteen year old Lealman Junior High student Peggy Davis presented Boone a Junior Chamber of Commerce award after she wrote an essay about why she wanted to meet him. Teen agers had money, and St preview the sounds, or in the platter departments of Maas Brothers or William Henry department stores. WAL T radio and later WLCY the old WTSP catered to the musical tastes of the place at Joyland on U.S. 19 and in various Clearwater venues. The Clearwater shows, w hich drew booked the better local bands to open for recording stars such as Johnny Tillotson, Del Shannon, and Brian Hyland, and later, Bobby Rydell and Roy Orbison 189 189 St. Petersburg Times Dances Resume Thurs St. Petersburg Evening Independent July 30, 1960, 4B; Times February 19, Times February Times Times photo caption, Times Times November 29, 1996, 9B.

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112 groups to form were the Chants, the Tru Tones, and Terry and the Pirates, the latter composed of St. Petersburg Junior College students. When the folk song era b egan to emerge, another crew of junior college students organized the Wanderers, cast in the mold of such nationally popular artists as the Kingston Trio and the Chad Mitchell Trio. If you did not want to dance, play, or sing, but wanted merely to tap the bongos, you could lean back in the Hungry Brain, a coffee house on west Central Avenue aimed at aspiring beatniks and their acolytes. The Beaux Arts Gallery in Pinellas Park was another coffee house venue for folk singers and others who worked outside the mainstream of local art, or for those who appreciated edgier material. Among those that achieved international fame. A St. Petersburg Junior College student duri ng 1961 1962, Morrison projected a reserved personality at odds with his wild, drug evangelist persona of later for the first time. We loved him rather 190 The Impacs ranked among the most popular and successful bands from St. an energetic vocalist, the group soon built a following with its fusion of Charleston/Savannah beach music, rockabilly, and rhythm and blues. There was one more element that made the Impacs stand out: an electronic echo chamber that gave every performance a recording studio quality. The instrument was one of the first to appear in St. Petersburg. Barnes said that in the early 1960s, only one other musician had such an asset address with tape to camouflage the source. Un deterred, Barnes applied heat to the tape while the 190 St. Petersburg Times Times anslated To Times September 25, 1960, 10 to 20 Section, 4; St. Petersburg Evening Independent

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113 Barnes to spy and memorize an address, and the Impacs soon were able to add an important feature to their perform excellence, encouraged by Barnes, took it a long way. They toured with Dick Clark, the host of the national television show American Bandstand and cut records on national labels Came that the group barely missed hitting big time fame when it could not reach a satisfactory record agreement with Parkway on a promising song. 191 Both higher and lower profile local bands found a ready audience. Federal increased its numbers nearly as rapidly as the 65 and over set. In 10 years, the 17 and under po pulation jumped from 18,879 to 42,424, a 124.7 percent increase that outpaced of 65 overs. The baby boomer generation thus fueled a Pinellas County school building f renzy that provided educational facilities to every section, sometimes without the best of site planning, it seemed. From 1953 through 1959, three new high schools opened in Greater St. Petersburg: Boca Ciega, Northeast, and Dixie Hollins, the latter also serving as a county wide comprehensive school that offered vocational training to students of high school age. From 1952 through 1963, four new junior high schools for grades 7 through 9 opened, including one for African American students; and 13 new eleme ntary schools, two for African Americans, welcomed students. Boca Ciega, the first new high school built in Greater St. Petersburg in twenty six years, showed what happened when planners neglected flood plains. Heavy rains flooded the grounds during the sc early days, and at times students literally canoed between wings while fish swam on the 191 Barnes interviews, 1993 2009.

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114 football field. While alligators sunned uncomfortably close to Northeast, cows grazed on nearby pasture and adjacent Sixteenth Street North ended just north of t he school. Officials made an attempt to plan and build a new Gibbs High School, but the school district and the St. Petersburg City Council could not come to terms on a land swap for a new site at Campbell Park. 192 As if to underscore the flood of new, you ng blood, the city opened three youth recreation centers during the 1950s. The first, Bartlett Park, was heralded as much needed haven for teenagers who, it was feared, might otherwise learn bad habits by edicated in 1951, Bartlett Park also was seen as a symbol of new recognition of the young, who may have felt overlooked in successful enough that tenacious crusader E thel Ruppenthal was able to persuade city officials to build another in a new part of town. Northwest Youth Center opened in September, 1957 in a new part of town where Fifty eighth Street North, to be one of the mpleted. Another woman, Mrs. Robert W. Roberts, donated land for a third center to be opened a few months later in the northeast section of the city. It would be called Roberts Youth Center. Wildwood Youth Center, another segregated facility, opened in Au gust, 1961, seven years after Jennie Hall donated $25,000 for the pool in the adjacent park. 193 192 U.S. Bureau of the Census, General Characteristics of the Po pulation, 1960, 11 29 online at www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/11085788v1p11ch3.pdf accessed February 6, 2009 ; A Tradition of Excellence: Pinellas County Schools 1912 198 7 Patricia Perez Costrini, ed. (Clearwater: Pinellas County School Board, 1987 ) 58, 64 67, 78 79, 81, 103 104, 112, 141, 143, 155, 184, 188, 235 237, 261 Times October 18 1959 1D 193 St. Petersburg Times November 20, 19 51, 6 ; Times Times ,October 29, 1961, 6E Times June 15, 1954, 7B.

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115 s group, spearheading a campaign of persuasion, governing bodies of the national Presbyterian Church agreed in 1958 to situate a private, four year liberal arts college on became Florida Presbyterian College later Eckerd to St. Petersburg enjoyed wide support and offered a large measure of consolation to civic leaders who two years earlier had tried unsuccessfully to win a four year public university. The University of South Florida went to Tampa, but in an unusual show of support, Tampa Mayor Nick Nuccio endorsed St. Petersburg as a site for the liberal arts school. The Presbyterians chose St. Petersburg over Sarasota, Orlando, and Ocala. Among the sales points boosters number of churches with active memberships; its industry; good regional trans portation facilities; new science related industries nearby; and other higher educational facilities in or near the city. St. Petersburg Junior College had been open for more than thirty years, while Stetson University had opened its College of Law on the old Florida Military Academy Campus in Gulfport in 1954. Gibbs Junior College, a segregated school for African Americans, was established in 1957 ironically, three years after the Supreme Court had ruled against segregated schools. While builders put tog campus, Florida Presbyterian College held its first classes in 1960 at the former U.S. Maritime Service training center next to Bayboro Harbor. 194 194 St. Petersburg Times St.

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116 But what sent St. Petersburg into a genuine paroxysm of joy was its own youthful tennis star let. In 1956, Shirley Fry, who had lived in the city for two years, won the year old Fry a ticker tape parade the only such celebration the city ever had conducted, even after the end of World War II. Fry, born in Akron, Ohio, came to St. Petersburg in 1954 with thoughts of leaving the tennis circuit because of a sore elbow on her racket arm. She took a job as a copy clerk with the St. Petersburg Times where a year before her Centre C ourt victory in England, she wistfully watched the wire machines spew the news about the Wimbledon winners. But Dan Sullivan, the professional at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center, believed Fry was too young to retire and began working out with the whippet slender woman he called the fastest player in tennis. Fry began a startling comeback, which a sportswriter suggested might be due to the Florida sunshine. Not only did she whom newspaper co workers described as shy. On the day of her Wimbledon parade, Mayor Samuel Johnson also presented her with a ceremonial deed to the Municipal Pier. perched on up the back of a convertible, smiling and waving like Princess Margaret. How 195 Petersburg Evening Independent August 12, 1958 Site For Times Times Times July 11, 1957, 2B; Times September 20, 1954, 21. 195 St. Petersburg Times Ti mes Times Times December 4, 1956, 22

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117 Public comments about the occasion suggeste d the motivation was simply affection for an engaging, athletically talented young woman. At the same time, Fry generated mentions of St. Petersburg in newspapers around the nation the celebration each time she won a major tennis championship, and so serve d probably unbeknownst to her as a civic image her, the only youthful achiever St. Petersburg could claim. Carroll Baker, who rose to fame after her title role appearance in the controversial m ovie Baby Doll and a secondary but substantial role in Giant alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean, got her start in St. Petersburg. A Johnstown, Pa., native, Baker came to St. Petersburg in 1950, attended St. Petersburg Junior College, m odeled, found success in assistant. Articles about Baker sometimes credited her show business start to her days at the Betty Boop School of Dancing, so called because t he school owner Ann Warner had girlish sex symbol. Young male athletes also helped put St. Petersburg on the map. Prep basketball stars Ian Morrison of St. Petersburg Hi gh and Gary Keller of Dixie Hollins both were named high school All Americas in the early 1960s. Morrison appeared on Ed Sullivan Show All America. At the two year college level, St. Petersburg Junior College star Gregg Bloodworth led the nation in junior college basketball scoring in 1961 62. 196 196 Chicago Daily Tribune July 6, 1956, B3; Fred Tup per, New York Times St. Petersburg Times Times Times Evening Independent May 19, 1981, 1C; Bill Buc St. Petersburg Times February 6, 1963, 1C

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118 In 19 who began each show with a sinister boast about his omniscience, gave his fans a taste of the West when he put on chaps and a cowboy hat to break up a cattle rustling gang. This particu lar WTSP episode rated special mention in a regular St. Petersburg Times column article noted that disc jockey Bob Hoffer was cultivating pre rock and roll talent by givi ng air time to one Bob Sands, a crooner in the Como mold. At the same time, new fangled transistor radios were winning mention. But buried in the article, whose headline did not hint of the imminent arrival of a new visual medium, was news that President approved, more money to process applications for television stations. It was thought that nationwide, as many as 400 new stations might go on the air. 197 One year later, St. WSUN TV, Channel 38 operating from the Municipal Pier with a transmitter on Gandy Boulevard WFLA TV Channel 8 and WT VT TV Channel 13 would follow in 1955. WEDU TV, Channel 3, St. Petersburg public educational channel began in 1958. 198 anticipation of sales and money to be made from installme nt finance plans, according to 197 St. Petersburg Times January 27, 1952, Magazine section, 38; 198 St. Petersburg Times April 19 http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/about_us/wtvt_history/wtvt_history accessed May 14, 2009; Times February And Those Times December 28, 1958, 3D.

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119 one observer. Savvy dealers had begun expanding the previous year; by January the number of TV sales outlet had increased by nearly 300 percent. In April, new sets were reported to be arriving by the carload. Apparently, nobo dy stopped to count exactly how many that represented, but an informal survey estimated 16,000 installations had taken place by the end of March 1953. Some optimistic merchants expected sales to double during the first few weeks of broadcasting, then redou ble by the end of the year or by early 1954. A seventeen inch black and white set might sell for $249.95, likely with two m their kitchen table card games toward the flickering cathode ray tube. 199 Television changed more than leisure activity. Three months after St. Petersburg received its first signals, some residents reported changes in eating, sleeping, buying, and soci the Swanson TV Dinner, invented in 1954 by Gerry Thomas, who devised both the product a nd its name. St. Petersburg sales are not recorded, but nationally, more than ten million customers paid 98 cents for Salisbury steak, fried chicken, turkey, or meat loaf served with potatoes and peas. But then: Where both to eat and view? A newspaper surv ey in St. Petersburg reported that 90 percent of its respondents said they had purchased special furniture to make set side dining more convenient. Meanwhile, some Your Home Theater were keeping them up past bedtime. And Police Chief J.R. Reichert 199 St. Petersburg Times, Times April 19, Times advertisement, April 19, 1953, 3H

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120 declared that night TV viewing by green bench sitters, gazing through windows at turned on storefront sets, had to stop. The crowds were becoming a nuisance, the chief said. 200 Anoth er innovation that helped shape St. Petersburg, as it did the rest of the South, was air conditioning. The coming of room units combated the sweltering summers that made life difficult for many residents. Advertising them, through such media as the St. Pet annual special section about keeping cool, helped ease worries of northern residents contemplating a move to Florida but hesitating because of what they had heard about smothering heat. Sunshine City boosters were not aware of such trepidati ons and did their best to overcome them. Declared a newsman writing in 1955: Ars enault noted in a ground breaking article, the advent of air conditioning during the 1950s most certainly contributed to the reduced net out migration from Southern states and starting in the early 1960s, more in migration, at last, than departures. By 195 8, Florida ranked fourth among states in the percentage of homes fully or partly air conditioned, and third in the number of room units purchased in 1957. By 1960, eighteen percent of Florida homes had air conditioning; in St. Petersburg, the figure was ev en higher: nearly twenty two percent, which was still low by standards set later in the twentieth century. 201 200 St. Petersburg Times September 6, 1953, 2B http://inventors.about.com/od/inventionsalphabet/a/tv_dinner.htm accessed September 17, 2009; Clyde Tampa Tribune Times September 7, 1953, 2B. 201 The Jou rnal of Southern History Vol. 50, n o. 4. (Nov ember

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121 Businesses and residents began riding the air conditioning wave immediately after World War II. In 1946, Florida Power Corpo ration reported installing sixty one had increased to 318 totaling 1,250 tons. In St. Petersburg homes, 299 room units were installed in 1950, mostly in bedrooms and living rooms; in 1952, 222 installations were reported during the first four months alone. Room units were available at about the same price as television sets: $200 to $250. Most banks offered to finance them. 202 Together, air conditioning and televis ion began to change the leisure habits of residents in St. Petersburg, particularly those on the Florida room frontier where few new houses had porches to lounge upon or adjacent sidewalks on which to stroll and chat with neighbors. It was pleasant to sit inside and watch Maverick The Ed Sullivan Show or The Real McCoys in the cool comfort provided by technology. The stay inside attitude began to be reflected in a decline in attendance at outdoor entertainment venues. A sports columnist bemoaned, for example, that baseball attendance had gone into decline. One of the min through the 1958 season, while second and fourth place clubs in 1951 and 1952 had drawn more than 250,000 each year. The columnist blamed the deficit on TV and the expans ion of home air conditioning, and cited the comments of Cleveland Indians general Conditioning Plant Helps Summer Temperatures Down On The Suncoast Times April 2, 1955, 17E; St. Petersburg Evening Independent July 5, 1958, 2E. 202 St. Petersburg Times July 17, 1952, 17; numerous newspaper advertisements linked air conditioner sales with bank financing. Examples include s Times Times May 13, 1954, 13C.

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122 ans prefer artificially cooled living rooms and TV entertainment to the torrid ballparks of mid summer. 203 Jim Crow Begins To Fade In 1946, Africa n American veteran J.E. George asked for a building permit to erect a house at 2167 Fifteenth Avenue South, one of the entrenched boundary lines beyond which people of color could not live or open a business. In applying, George was challenging one of St. separate housing in strictly segregated neighborhoods for black peoples and whites. It was more than tradition and greater than a folkway; the segregation practice had been in operation for most of the twentieth century and had the backing of city council, which in 1936 required that all African Americans had to live west of Seventeenth Street and south of Sixth Avenue South. George was most certainly among the first African Americans to issue a challenge, his ef fort coming nearly a decade before the more heralded Dr. Robert J. Swain, who built an office and apartments on Twenty second Street South, south of Fifteenth Avenue. The city at first refused to grant George a permit, but when he retained a lawyer, offici durable racial code. 204 As we have seen in an earlier chapter, the city had a history of racial tension that sometimes flared into horrific violence, mixed at times with racial ben evolence, perhaps paternalistic, on the part of whites. By the 1950s,the violence had come to a virtual close. 203 St. Petersburg Evening Independent August 6, 1958, 9A. 204 St. Petersburg Times December 16, 1946, 21

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123 But sometimes cultural differences among recently arrived youngsters and their longtime resident classmates resulted in playground fistfights; c hildren vigorously debating the Little Rock Central High School crisis of 1957 almost certainly amounted to adolescent reflection of parental views. Meanwhile, white people sometimes attended performances by such entertainment luminaries as Louis Armstrong at the usually all black Manhattan Casino. Indeed, music often was the equalizing element. Times reporter Jerry Blizin performed jazz on an integrated stage at Boca Ciega High School in 1959; a year or two later, white musician Ron Lowe was playing with a n integrated blues combo called the Dominoes. The group broke an unofficial color barrier when it became the first integrated group to play for an integrated audience when it became the house band at the Peppermint Lounge in Madeira Beach. In another indic ation that a new day might be on clandestine basketball practices with the team from all black Gibbs High School. During this era the Klan was moribund in St. Petersburg, but during lunch counter sit ins, a Klansman named Bill Hendrix showed up to promote a counter protest. Police chief E. suggested progress in race relations, but the city did not quickly shed its strict and sometimes toxic segregationist past. 205 In fact, St. Petersburg went about desegregation in a strained, desultory way in ecisions 205 St. Petersburg Times May 5, 1959, 2D; Breen interview; Greg Williams, Dominoes Band Times January 2, 2002, Neighborhood Times section, 1; Minson Rubin interview by Jon Wilson about integrated, informal high school basketball practices, St. Petersburg Times December 4, 1960, 9B; in addition, the author recalls racially charged fistfights among white youngsters at segregated Lealman Junior High School during the Little Rock crisis.

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124 turned. For example, as we saw in Chapter 4, the Spa Beach and pool were reopened because hoteliers feared loss of revenue if the facilities remained closed because of black Ralph Wimbish, Emanuel Stewart, and David Isom helped desegregate lunch counters. In March 1960, sit ins began downtown. Three months later, urged by Governor LeRoy Collins, the city appointed a biracial committee to explore solutions. Picketing continue d during the with the committee providing help the lunch counters downtown were desegregated. They already had been previously, and quietly, integrated at other shopping areas in St. Petersburg, and African Americans organized car pools to use those counters instead of boyc department store was one of the last holdouts. It was not the first time a biracial committee had helped ease tension. In the early 1950s, such a group had worked to keep the peace when blacks began moving south of Fifteenth Avenue South into previously all white neighborhoods. Revered Gibbs High School teacher Olive B. McLin had been a ins tead of confronting one another on the streets. In mid organized to stop the movement of black people into segregated neighborhoods. There were no reported incidents and the effort folded, this time without the refereeing of a special committee. 206 206 St. Petersburg Times February 14, 1962, 1B; Times February 15, 1962, 1B

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125 Other segregation barriers also fell relatively quietly, although others proved more segregated seating on city buses ended quietly in 1959 but Afri can American drivers still had not been hired by 1962. The police department had a black sergeant, a detective, and eight patrolmen but none had the power to arrest white people. The public library had been desegregated as early as 1952. The St. Petersbu rg Ministerial Association had joined with the Negro Interdenominational Ministers Alliance to become a biracial group. Black doctors had become members of the Pinellas County Medical Society by 1962, but African American lawyers and dentists still could n ot join their professional associations in the county. Major League Baseball teams that conducted spring training in St. Petersburg asked for housing for all members of their integrated teams, but the downtown hotels would not desegregate. The teams found housing at the Outrigger Inn near the Sunshine Skyway and at the Colonial Inn on St. Petersburg Beach, but the stonewalling relocation to Fort Lauderdale. 207 The prospect of th new riot squad had been in training for more than a year and there were hints that it would be used as needed in racial situations. But Police Chief E. Wilson Purdy took a calm public stance. While promising to enforce the law, Purdy said any citizen was of itself constitute an emergenc 207 New York Times February 19, 1961, 179 St. Pe tersburg Times June 13, 1963, 14A.

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126 developed when seven Freedom Riders, part of a biracial traveling group measuring the extent of desegregation throughout the South, arrived in St. Petersburg aboard two buses on June 15. There were no t even any major incidents. One white man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after he refused to stop arguing with H. MacDonald Nelson, a black St. Petersburg minister waiting at the Greyhound bus station to greet the riders. Francis Randall, a white rider, and Ralph Diamond, a black member of the group, a white woman who was the New York City editor for Harvard University Press, and Mrs. Marjorie Maxwell, identified as a black St. Petersburg housewife. While in St. Petersburg, the Freedom Riders attended a workshop during the day, and in the evening, a public meeting at the Second Bethel Baptist Church near the Gas Plant neighborhood. Rev. Enoch Davis, the was nece order. If a private housing project for the poor was a natural expression of his Christian commitment, he laid the plans. This steady alignment of walk and talk earned him unpu 208 important milestone. Since the 1920s, black patients had been treated at the all black Mercy Hospital on Twenty se cond Street South. While it built a reputation for caring 208 St. Petersburg Times June 13, 1961, Times Times St. Petersburg Evening Independent January 4, 1982, 16A.

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127 physicians and nurses, the hospital was woefully inadequate. For one thing, it had almost no medical equipment. It was considered so poor it was not even given a rating by medical authorities who as signed grades of A, B, or C to hospitals meeting minimum standards. One of the grimmer truths was that a black surgeon, upon discovering what appeared to be a tumor during an operation, could not simply take it out, but had to leave open while a small piece of the tumor was removed and sent for tests to white only Mound Park. Mercy doctors such as Fred Alsup, one of the leaders in desegregating downtown beaches, talked of long waits for lab reports, consultations, blood transfusions, and other life saving services from Mound Park. Delays had caused at least one patient fatality. In 1960, approximately 500 African American residents chose Mercy unless b etter facilities were built. One of the solutions proposed was to build a segregated wing at Mound Park; another was simply to build an integrated medical center. Otherwise, physicians would begin sending their black patients to Mound Park, said Dr. Eugene Rose. Other doctors supporting the boycott included Ralph Wimbish and Harry Talliaferro, along with dentists Robert Swain and Gilbert Leggett. All were civil rights activists. The facilities were never built. But in 1961, Mound Park was integrated in 1961 when Alsup admitted phlebitis patient Altamease Chapman. Alsup consulted City rec alled years later. 209 209 St. Petersburg Times June 21, 1960, 7D; Patsy V. Pressley and Laurie Mayers St. Petersburg Evening Independent February 28, 1985, 16A.

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128 St. Petersburg and Pinellas County liked to tout its new high tech industry. General Electric, Minneapolis Honeywell, ECI, and Sperry Rand all listed themselves as equal opportunity employers. Some had hired African Americans in tec hnical and clerical positions usually held by white people in the South. An industry spokesman seemed to fall back on the oft about hiring policies. The spokesman blamed both the lack of edu cational facilities and the technical industry itself for not turning out more black people ready to be engineers and scientists. 210 For the most part, schools remained segregated. St. Petersburg Junior College, Tomlinson Vocational School, and two parochi al schools had some black students by the early 1960s, but public schools had none in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade. In 1959, eleven black students were denied admission to Dixie Hollins, the new comprehensive high school. Principal H. Bentley Lawson said the eleven did not meet entrance requirements. By 1962, Pinellas remained the only large county in Florida in which blacks had not filed suit to desegregate public schools. School officials interpreted 211 On the political front, no African Americans served in elected office. In 1960, Bette Wimbish, wife of the activist physician, sought the 1960 Democratic nomination for the Pinellas County School Board. She lost the primary by a wide margin, but managed to get about 10,000 countywide votes in a county with only 3,798 black voters. She received votes in all of 114 precincts and carried five, one of them all white. In 1963, Isaiah W. Williams ran for the St. Petersburg City Cou ncil, also losing by a wide margin, 210 Times February 11, 1962, 1B. 211 St. Petersburg Times February 15, 1962, 1B ; Gardner s f Times September 10, 1959, 1B.

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129 but getting 38.2 percent of the vote. Running citywide there were no council single member districts he lost to Daisy Edwards, a veteran council member and a rare woman ompted the evening newspaper to remark 212 Mayor Herman Goldner, meanwhile, in 1962 claimed the city was trying to remove, as rapidly as possible, all references to segregation in city ordinances, in addition to getting rid racially referenced signs over water fountains and rest rooms in public buildings. The legal and technical aspects of segregation were one thing, the mayor said, while w is impossible for the city government to move any faster than the community as a 213 212 Times February 12, 1963, 3B; St. Petersburg Evening Independent 1963, 8A. 213 Times February 16, 1962, 1B.

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130 Conclusions dreams were bigger than what it was able to realize. Through publicity, the city grew in population; thousands of new tract houses filled undeveloped land to the city limits in all directions. New shopping areas emerged and new industry in the city or near it provided new economic bases. Completion of new transportation links opened St. Petersburg and helped it move beyond the shadow of Tampa, its larger neighbor. In many ways, t he city could take pride in its development as a lively, post World II city. But it still fell short in quality of life. explosive, largely unplanned postwar growth. Tract hous ing and commercial centers The relative rapidity of the changes and the uses of the land testify to the power of business dynamics, including relentless marketing and subsequent growth driven public demand P erfunctory planning was the order of the day. The construction of Boca Ciega High School on poorly drained land, for example, resulted in flooded grounds when the school opened. But most symbolic is the building of the Centra l Plaza shopping district and the destruction of It is likely that the commercial and leisure enterprises established there through the years pleased more people than a marsh would have done, especial ly one that sometimes flooded and sometimes caught fire. Nonetheless, development might have progressed with debate as to the possible

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131 value of the muck land in its raw, productive state. Consideration could have been given, for example, to wo rth as a drainage basin, its merit as an aquifer recharge element, or its potential to be developed in the mold of New Perhaps vigorous discussion in the early 1950s could have produce d worthwhile philosophy on building and its consequences for the rest of the century in a Sun Belt city. As it is, the Goose Pond and its farmers have left no legacy. A series of transportation improvements opened a wider world for St. Petersburg and helped the city leap into the postwar mainstream. Tampa International and Pinellas International airports came to be considered travel hubs, but well before the aviation am enities were dramatically developed, the Sunshine Skyway linkage to south Florida was established and U.S. 19 (the Gulf Coast Highway) with its connections to the North was completed through St. Petersburg. Those events took place despite sporadic oppositi on from some business interests in Hillsborough County and Tampa, which feared competition from its neighbor across Tampa Bay. That St. Petersburg was able to maturity and i nfluence, representing the most dramatic independent step away from its larger neighbor since Pinellas County broke off from Hillsborough in 1912. Further transportation enhancements included the 1960 opening of Howard Frankland Bridge, providing a third s pan between Tampa and St. Petersburg in anticipation of the coming of the interstate highway system, and the 1962 opening of the Pinellas Bayway, which offered another route to the Gulf of Mexico beach communities and one to Mullet Key and its historic For t De Soto. The Mullet Key linkage opened a Gulf front key to

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132 recreation, created another tourist attraction, and literally paved the way for future real estate development. Meanwhile, the city began deemphasizing its railroad dependence by moving the Seabo ard and Atlantic Coast Line depots and their tracks out of the downtown area, seen necessary as a step toward downtown improvement. The trolley also was discontinued. Overall, the downtown, subject of much concern about its future, made little progress. T he Maas Brothers Department Store and the State Theater were the only major, new elements added to a central business district that faced increasingly stiff competition from businesses in outlying neighborhoods, most particularly the successful Central Pla za shopping center. A series of plans to reshape downtown were discussed and shelved, including the Victor Gruen plan and several less visionary proposals produced by city planners. A long planned auditorium had not materialized, but was still under discus sion. So was the possible coming of a new federal building. Remaining to b e built were a new police station and a library. One of the proposed sites for the auditorium, the ame day the Atlantic Coast Railroad left downtown. Razing of the Spa had been planned anyway, and the facility was not rebuilt. If updated, downtown still had a chance to make a comeback, or at least forestall a decline. At the beginning of the decade i t had six banks; by 1960 five still remained. There were six cafeterias compared to three in 1951; nine department stores compared to eight. It had nearly 100 clothing, shoe and hat shops of various sizes and more than 100 hotels, in each case roughly one third more than existed as in 1950, and there were a scant fewer bars, liquor stores, and dime/sundries stores. Its

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133 number of car dealerships had declined from twelve to seven, but garages and service stations had increased from eleven to fourteen. Twelve appliance stores doubled the 1950 count, likely due to the advent of television. Enough patronage supported dozens of small beauty and barber shops, thirty eight real es tate offices, and seven music stores selling instruments and offering lessons. Clearly, downtown had a heartbeat but nothing much fresh to hold the sustained interest of a growing, far flung population, which in any case had more convenient shopping oppo rtunities and diversions that included television. It needed new excitement, but while the rest of St. Petersburg changed greatly during the decade of the 1950s, the downtown did not. 214 Development of infrastructure did not always keep pace with the c growth rate during the decade of the 1950s. City government undertook a massive sanitary sewer pipe drainage needs had been met and many streets remained to be paved a nd lighted. Substandard housing remained to be addressed, particularly in African American neighborhoods near downtown. 215 The St. Petersburg Times helped the city to market itself, and as evidenced by its numerous citations in this work, represented a fo rmidable force during every stage of St. Evening Independent had originated the world sun failed to shine in St. Petersburg. It helped le 214 St. Petersburg Times Times June 4, 1963, 9B; Comparison of existing businesses was accomplished by making counts in Polk City Directories of 1951 and 1960. 215 St. Petersburg Evening Independent website, http://www.stpete.org/water/pdf/allaboutwater5.pdf accessed October 14, 2009.

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134 housing project, Jordan Park. Through the years, Independent Lew B. Brown battled the times on such issues as the building of the Million Dollar Pier and the proposals put forward by city planner John Nolen. But the afternoon newspaper took less of an influential role during the 1950s. Its circulation declined and in 1962, Times owner Nelson Poynter purchased his afternoon competitor, a move that foreshadowed changes that would not wholly develop for nearly a generation more. The absorption of the Independent ended the possibility of competing media voice offering differing visions for St. Petersburg, and in a sense, the consolidation reflected the mood of residents. The mild 1950s produced no extended, vitriolic debate, even over the said C. Randolph Wedding. City elections, with some exceptions that seemed to be based as much on personality as on iss ues, generally were notable for their civility. Putting fluoride in city water generated one of the hottest controversies of the 1950s in St. Petersburg (as it did elsewhere). But it was not until the early 1960s the first strong sense emerged competing vi St. Petersburg become, assuming its image as a senior citizens center could be watered down, as boosters desired. Some civic leaders wanted to discourage retirees altogether in favor of to urists with money; some wanted a minimum housing size; others vowed to 216 Despite its success as a popular place in the sun, St. Petersburg did not grow comfortable with itself during the immediate postwar years. Some of its uncertai nty 216 St. Petersburg Evening Independent July 2, 1962, 6A; Petersbu Ocala Star Banner June 29, 1961, 1 ; Geoffrey Drummond, St. Petersburg Times Evening Independent April 1, 1962, 1B; Wedding inter view.

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135 stemmed from seeing itself as inferior to Tampa, a city also growing with bustle, business, industry, a new state university, and an airport considered a major facility all amenities St. Petersburg wanted. The rivalry went back years and drained St. considerable merits. Like much of Florida, many St. Petersburg residents came from elsewhere. They had no emotional ties based on family roots in the city or participation in its trials, successes, and disappointments. They saw St. Petersburg as a warm and pleasant spot in which to retire or raise a family where there were no months of dreary pr ideful 1958 newspaper coverage of the Today neighboring beach community Treasure Island tone of coverage suggested that reporters swooned whenever Garroway uttered a complimentary phrase. Said the Times friendly plug worth millions, while gently working his way through a three hour . program from the Isle of Capri off Treasure Island. Even a fresh breeze seemed not to An unstated irony was that the sun kissed Isle of Capri had been dredged from the bay a few years earlier. 217 As much as seeing it as sunny and warm, the rest of the nation often tended to more youthful reputation and in an effort second only to the perennial promotional campaigns to make St. Petersburg seem a modern Eden they tried to make people believe 217 There are numerous media references to the civic rivalry between St. Petersburg and Tampa. For St. Petersburg Evening Independent Times, September 14, 1961, 14A

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136 that paradise was a place for the young. St. Petersburg was a city born of ballyhoo and its r the elderly persisted long after deliberate measures tried to change that image, and some of what was said was true. St. Petersburg indeed was a place where retirees sought a gentle, carefree, and secure life but reality did not always meet their expec tations. One estimate claimed that some 64,000 residents drew Social Security in St. Petersburg in 1960. While that seems high, it was certainly true that many residents 65 Old Age Benefits. Those with o ther retirement resources often managed a good life. Those without often struggled. They sometimes shared boarding house rooms with two or three others. The demand for health care was such that Bay Pines Veterans Hospital was said to have a waiting list of 700. Dr. Howard Carter was the Pinellas County health officer in the Division of Gerontology and Research, which conducted a five year survey of the needs of senior diffic ulty finding the proper housing, proper food, proper care here. They have virtually nothing except the boarding home where someone might try to care for them out of effo rt and money to attract retirees now tried to discourage them from coming to St. Petersburg (and other parts of Florida) unless they had at least $250 in monthly fixed income. They warned that just 1 percent of people 65 years old or over had a job to

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137 reli eve boredom or supplement income, and they also pointed out that the law required a five year residency before public assistance could be made available. 218 Instead of trying to prove a negative that St. Petersburg was not just a place for old people boosters might have spent more energy encouraging and publicizing the youth culture. They certainly had the bases on which to brag new schools, a burgeoning population of 18 and under people, and a record of youthful achievement that included A ll America athletes, title winning teams, accomplished musicians, a Wimbledon queen, and a movie actress well on her way to star status. The city certainly seemed to offer a platform for success and it had the mentoring needed to give young white people a start on their dreams. There were other signs of active pursuits and youthful vigor. The Southern Ocean Racing Conference, whose local center was the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, visited St. Petersburg yearly for widely publicized sailboat races. For four ye ars, St. Petersburg played host to the national small college football championship. The Holiday Bowl took place from 1957 through 1960, played either at Al Lang baseball field, which was reconfigured to accommodate football, or on St. Petersburg High Scho field. In 1960, officials of the small college governing body, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, dumped St. Petersburg for two reasons: It had not built the promised new stadium and it still maintained segregated housin g for players. The loss served as a reminder that St. Petersburg had a way to go in meeting all its infrastructural improvement goals, but even more importantly, that it was falling short in providing opportunity for all, regardless of race. 219 218 New York Times magazine section, March 20, 1960, 30. 219 New York Times March 9, St. Petersburg Evening Independent March 16, 1961, 1A.

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138 Though it moved slowly toward desegregation, St. Petersburg managed to progress without violence. Moderate leadership spread among individuals and organizations did not make strident demands or insist upon enforcement of old mores. The White Citizens Councils an d Ku Klux Klan klaverns, so prevalent in other parts of the South, had no influence in St. Petersburg. The Chamber of Commerce at last began to encourage publicly the concept of equal opportunity, and biracial human rights organizations had formed. Nonethe less, St. Petersburg had far to go. By 1963, its schools, both public and private, had not been substantially integrated, although a small start had been made. Though African Americans were beginning to move into previously all white neighborhoods, housin customers toward segregated neighborhoods. 220 Equality of opportunity for, and wide social acceptance of African Americans remained ideals yet to be given substance The question of the c identity had not tracks were gone from the old city center. Like Goose Pond to the west, they were relics amounting to little more than a quickly vanishin g memory of bucolic past St. Petersburg could look back on its old days with a qualified satisfaction even as it faced the rest of the twentieth century with work undone. While the city had expanded physically, opened to the wider world, and pr ogressed in its race relations, its character had yet to be fully shaped. That process would continue during the decade, which would 220 Sue Landry and David K. Rogers, St. Petersburg Times Evening I ndependent February 24, 1979, 1A.

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139 Bibliography Books Arsenault, Raymond O St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream. Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Va.: The Donning Company, 1988. Bethell, John A. Pinellas, A Brief History of the Lower Point. St. Petersburg: Independent Job Press, 1914. Buckley, James. Street Railways of St. Petersburg, Florida. Fort y Fort, Pa. : Harold E. Cox, 1983. Costrini, Patricia Perez. A Tradition of Excellence: Pinellas County Schools 1912 198 7 Clearwater, Fla.: Pinellas County School Board, 1987 Dorman, Robert L. Revolt of the Provinces : The Regionalist Movement In America, 1920 1945. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993. Fuller, Walter. St. Petersburg and its People St. Petersburg: Great Outdoors Publishing Company, 1972. Grismer, Karl H. The Story of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg: P.K. Smith and Co, 1948. Halberstam, David. The Fifties New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1993. Morris, Allen. The Florida Handbook Tallahassee: Peninsular Publishing, 1955. Pinellas County School Board. A Tradition of Excellence. Clearwater: Pinellas County School Board, 1987. Rothchild, John. Up for Grabs. Gainesville: The University of Florida Press, 1985. St. Petersburg City Director y (19 37 19 63 ). Jacksonville, Richmond, Va.: R.L. Polk and Co. Stephenson, Bruce. Visions of Eden : Environmentalism, Urban Planning, and City Building in St. Petersburg, Florida, 1900 1995 Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1997. Vesperi, Maria. City of Green Benches: Growing Old in a New Downtown Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986.

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140 Documents City of St. Petersburg, Real Property Survey WPA Project 65 1 35 85, 1940. Harland Bartholomew and Associates, A Proposed Master Plan For the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, 1943, 9. St. Pe tersburg Department of City Planning, Central Core Plan August, 1958, 2. Victor Gruen and Associates, St. Petersburg CBD Study June, 1957, 36, 43, 46 Maps, Photographs, and Brochures City of St. Petersburg, aerial photo. 1925. Displayed at St. Petersburg City Hall 275 Fifth Street North, St. Petersburg, Fla. Guide Map of St. Petersburg, Florida. Parklane Engineering and Surveying Corp. 1925. Pocket map, St. Petersburg, Fl a., St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, 1918. St. Petersburg, Florida by census tracts and blocks. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1960. Topographic Map, St. Petersburg, Florida, Washington, D.C.: United States Geological S ociety. Survey, 1956 re map. Watson, George Jr. S urvey, Land District East, State of Florida, Ma y 1848. Articles, Theses, and Papers Arsenault, Raymond O. The Journal of Southern History Vol. 50, n o. 4. (Nov ember 1984), 618 Davis, Jack. Petersburg, Florida, 1888 21

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141 Paradise Lost? Raymond O. Arsenault, Jack Davis, eds. Gainesville: Th e University of Florida Press, 2005 114. 9 Toward the Ends of the Earth. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Videos 1950 1960, from private collection of William Davenport Jr. Joe Frolhock directed by Joe Frolhock


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ABSTRACT: St. Petersburg stood on the cusp of great change in 1946. Returning veterans sought jobs and housing, and St. Petersburg experienced its first major growth era since the real estate boom of the 1920s. The decade of the 1950s saw the city's population leap from 96,738 to 181,298, an 87 percent increase driven by boosters and national publicity about the city's leisurely ambience. Tract houses replaced remaining pockets of pasture and pine trees as subdivisions sprawled toward the city limits and beyond. On fertile truck-farming acreage called Goose Pond, developers built Central Plaza, a shopping center positioned to drain business energy from an aging downtown. Space-age industry brought light manufacturing to supplement traditional economic bases. The Sunshine Skyway opened in 1954 and less than a year later, road builders completed U.S. 19 through St. Petersburg, providing more economic advantages. Civil Rights advances shook Jim Crow, as African Americans sued to integrate swimming venues and challenged "red lines" defining where people of color could live and open businesses. Television began opening new horizons and changing leisure habits as air conditioning brought residents a new dimension of indoor comfort. City leaders reaching for a dynamic civic image worried about the city's reputation as a haven for the elderly, but education leaders ordered three new high schools built to serve the burgeoning white student population. The mid-century boom revived an optimistic spirit while raising issues such as land use, the downtown's future, and race relations against a backdrop of cultural change and the search for civic identity. As reflected in articles, interviews, reports, and manuscripts, St. Petersburg began redefining itself for the twentieth century's second half. This study surveys, describes, and analyzes the transformative events.
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