A Brief History
St. Petersburg was founded in 1876 by Peter Demens (the name behind Demens Landing Park) and John C. Williams (the name behind Williams Park). The two built the once marsh land to become a town with heavy Mediterranean Revival influence in architecture and a flourishing fishing industry.
In the 1920s, St. Petersburg had a huge economic boom. An influx of tourist arrived by car, train and yacht. And with the opening of the Gandy bridge in 1924, tourists helped grow St. Petersburg into the largest city in Pinellas County.
St. Pete Today
Fast forward almost one hundred years later, St. Pete, with its mix of old Spanish style buildings and thousands of new businesses and housing, has been named one of the global destinations to see, according to the New York Times.
Tourists, residents and business owners alike are getting in on all the hype. In 2017, St. Petersburg was ranked 5th on Top BoomTowns. GDP grew by 4.3% in just 5 years. It’s become an exciting time to live in St. Pete, and more people seem to be catching on to its energetic appeal.
The streets are completely unrecognizable from just the past couple of years. Roger Dow, President of the U.S Travel Association says, “There’s a vibrancy going on in St. Pete.” The city has lit up with an electric new culture of art and creativity.
The eclectic art scene and abundance of locally-owned businesses are the essence of St. Pete’s culture. In fact, St. Pete has seven art districts that house multiple restaurants, breweries, museums, shopping, music, events and festivals throughout the year.
Some of the most prominent museums, like the Dali Museum, which holds the world’s largest collection of Salvador Dali’s work aside from Spain, call St. Pete home. The Chihuly Collection of colored glass morphed into installations using heat, and the Museum of Fine Arts, one of St. Pete’s original landmarks, are also located in St. Pete. The Museum of Fine Arts houses artworks predating over 4,000 years, and is one of the top destinations in the city.
Over the past few years, the art scene has exploded in an unexpected way. In the past, if you wanted to see art, you would visit one of the many popular museums downtown. Whereas now, it might be more common for you, in a crowd of viewers, to watch an artist paint a 50 foot wide and 20 foot tall mural on the side of a local business or public building.
That wasn’t always the case. Up until a few years ago, murals were considered illegal. It wasn’t until 2015, when the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance hosted their first SHINE Mural Festival. Artists from all over the world transformed blank sides of buildings into massive works of art.
St. Pete’s art scene is both exciting and inspiring. It has illuminated the streets and revitalized the city, creating a dialogue within the community.
One of the easiest ways to view the murals up close is to take the walking St. Pete Mural Tour. Visitors will hear the inside scoop of the making of over 30 murals in the Central Arts District, offered every Sunday morning.
If you’d rather go on your own time, visit @kapokmarketing on Instagram as we will be highlighting some of our favorite murals this month.