The St. Petersburg Pier will remain closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The City of St. Petersburg gave an original grand opening date of May 30 but fears about spreading the novel coronavirus forced the City to postpone the reopening of the Pier until proper phased guidelines are announced by Governor Ron DeSantis, according to the City of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. On May 12, Mayor Kriseman said, “We need to wait, number one, for the governor to enter an order that would allow us to open. We also have to get to a point where it’s safe to have mass gatherings that are greater than 10 people.” Mayor Kriseman said he does not want to open the Pier in sections, instead opting to open everything up altogether once permission to do so is granted.
The Pier had closed down before the pandemic lockdowns took place. The Pier closed down due to a reimagining of the Pier. The reimagined pier, located at the dead-end of 2nd Avenue NE, is almost finished being constructed. In 2015, its inverted pyramid was demolished.
Patrons and restaurant owners at the Pier are all anxious for the reopening, mostly due to the exciting new features the Pier will have. St. Pete’s new Pier District will have more than 30 attractions featuring artwork, playgrounds, bars and restaurants.
Aerial shot of the Saint Petersburg Pier on June 24, 2005. Photo and Caption: www.stpetepier.org/history/
Pier Park will be the eighth major pier in St. Petersburg’s history.
The city’s first pier dates back to 1889, built by railroad entrepreneur Peter Demens. The Orange Belt Railway built the Railroad Pier which extended a half-mile into Tampa Bay from the foot of 1st Ave S, the terminus of the railroad. Lined with warehouses and loading docks, the 3,000 ft-long structure soon became popular with anglers and swimmers, prompting the construction of a bathing pavilion and toboggan slide.
In the years before World War I, the Electric Pier became a major tourist attraction and a symbol of the new St. Petersburg. Known for its hundreds of electric lights and streetcar lines, the Electric Pier extended 3,000 ft into Tampa Bay. Publisher Frank Davis, who also owned the St. Petersburg Electric Light & Power Company and the St. Petersburg & Gulf Electric Railway, developed this pier which became a major tourist attraction. It was demolished in 1914.
The first pier to accommodate automobiles, St. Petersburg’s Recreational Pier opened in December 1913. Early amenities included a hangar for the first airline and subsequent aviation use, an indoor swimming pool called the Spa, an aquarium (which later became the museum of history in 1922), and a dance hall and banquet facility. Additional public facilities added through the years included Spa Beach, sandwich shop, tennis courts, the Solarium for nude sunbathing, and a senior citizen’s center.
The October 1921 hurricane damaged the wooden pier and it was replaced by the Million Dollar Pier in 1926. The Million Dollar Pier introduced a Casino to the area and was accompanied by a two-lane roadway, a streetcar line, an observation deck, and WSUN radio station. The Million Dollar Pier was demolished in 1967 due to deterioration.
The Inverted Pyramid was built on top of the 1926 Pierhead. It was designed by noted architect William Harvard, Sr. The iconic design continued the tradition of an overwater public gathering place and tourist attraction in downtown St. Petersburg for four decades. The Inverted Pyramid reached completion and was opened in 1973. When it opened, it housed three restaurants, snack bars, miniature golf, novelty shops, an aquarium and breathtaking views of Tampa Bay.
The structure closed in 2013 to make way for the new St. Petersburg Pier.