Why do they call it that? Harbour Island: How Harbour Island got its new name

7:23 AM, Dec 14, 2011   |    comments
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Next month, when Gasparilla pirates swashbuckle their way into Tampa, many will sail past Harbour Island -- a man-made island with a brand new name.

Why do they call it Harbour Island?

Here come the pirates! At Gasparilla time, hundreds of boats head toward Downtown Tampa.

They're rushing in to storm the city and force the mayor's surrender.

And this flotilla -- floats -- through Seddon Channel, between Harbour Island and Davis Islands. How did Seddon Channel get that name?

"Seddon was one of the railroad officials with the Tampa Northern Railroad. And it was Tampa Northern that really developed Seddon Island, said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Wait -- did he say Seddon Island? He did!

Look on a map of Tampa, and you won't see any mention of Seddon Island. Where is it? It's still there, but with a brand new name.

Over the years, the islands right off Tampa's shoreline have changed. Not just names, but shapes, too!

Around 1900, Little Grassy Island was cut in two when Seddon Channel was created.

The area to the east was filled in make a much bigger island: Seddon Island.

Rail cars and phosphate ships loaded up here for decades. But eventually, Seddon Island became an abandoned eyesore.

In the 1970's, this weedy wasteland was home to just a pair of storage buildings for U.S. Customs and the county's mosquito control board.

In 1979, a megabucks developer -- the Beneficial Corporation -- bought the whole island for three million bucks.

They had a master plan for homes, condos, hotels, and shopping. All they needed was a new, catchy name.

Marketing people mulled it over. And in 1981, they announced the answer: Welcome to Harbour Island.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

If you came to Tampa Bay within the past 10 years or so... You may not know this: Harbour Island and Downtown Tampa used to be connected by a monorail.

Former President Gerald Ford was a passenger on the first trip of the Harbour Island People Mover, back in 1985. But the monorail lost money and was shut down in 1999.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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