Bayshore Boulevard is one of the greatest gifts left to us by the people in Tampa's past. And we owe it all to two men who turned down a fortune to make that road happen.
Why do they call it Bayshore Boulevard?
Cheer for the wondrous images of Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard: the Gasparilla Pirate Parade! Gorgeous sunrises!
And let's hear it for that stock market crash, right?!
The Great Depression! Yeah!
All right, it's nothing to cheer about. But the Great Depression is one of the reasons we have South Tampa's beautiful Bayshore Boulevard and its signature, serpentine sidewalk.
In the depressed 1930's, one of President Roosevelt's programs to put unemployed men back to work went to work overhauling crumbling Bayshore Boulevard and completing Florida's most famous sidewalk.
"Bayshore has the, I think, very informal distinction of having the world's longest continuous sidewalk," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center.
The road runs along the shore of Hillsborough Bay, so the origin of its name is about as obvious as it gets. But where the builders actually put the pavement was far from obvious. It was revolutionary.
Kite-Powell says the first fragments of that four-and-a-half mile sidewalk -- and the boulevard itself -- go back to the early 1900's.
Back then, Bayshore's sidewalk and its balustrade of shapely columns didn't exist. It was simply a muddy waterline looking out into the gorgeous, glittering blue bay.
When they built Bayshore's first homes, two developers -- Alfred Swann and Eugene Holtzinger -- made the call: their finished suburb would preserve that pristine view by putting the road between the houses and the bay.
No houses, no shipyards, nothing -- should block that beautiful view from the generations to come.
"They saw even then that having public access to the bay and having that be really kind of a grand boulevard for their development and for the city was more important than selling some waterfront lots," Kite-Powell said.
And that tradition of Bayshore Boulevard as a public treasure, not a private one, has lived on from generation to generation.
Why do they call it that? Now you know.
So does Bayshore really have the world's longest continuous sidewalk?
Tampa Bay and Company is the agency that markets our area to tourists and its spokesman says the agency has confirmed that piece of trivia.
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