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A love affair as old as the city itself: St. Pete and its piers

One of the first structures built in St. Pete was its pier. Now, more than a hundred years later the city is about to open a new one.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On July 6 the St. Pete Pier will open to the public, but it's far from the first pier in St. Petersburg. There has been a pier in Downtown St. Pete for almost as long as there's been a St. Pete.

The first pier was built in 1889 as a part of the Orange Belt Railroad. Entrepreneur Peter Demens was in charge of building the half-mile structure. It held warehouses and loading docks and was pretty close to where the pier is now.

Piers became pretty popular in the area. The Brantley Pier was constructed off Second Avenue in 1896. Another was built in 1901. 

In 1905 a third pier was built. This one had an electric trolley, making it a tourist destination.

Then in 1921, all the city's piers were destroyed in the famous "no-name" hurricane. The city rebuilt and in 1926 a new "Million Dollar Pier" was completed.

It became a huge tourist attraction. Visitors could swim at the spa and even sunbath in the nude at the Solarium. History isn't always happy though, African Americans were only allowed on the pier if they were working.

In 1973, that all changed when a new pier simply called "The Pier" opened with its famous "upside-down" pyramid all the way at the end. It lasted until 2015 when it was finally torn down.

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