St. Petersburg, FL Livability Score
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St. Petersburg is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. It is known as a vacation destination for both American and foreign tourists. As of the 2010 census, the population was 244,769, making St. Petersburg the fourth most populous city in the state of Florida and the largest city in Florida that is not a county seat. Although the city of Clearwater is the county seat of Pinellas County, all county services are available through county offices in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is the second largest city in theTampa Bay Area, which is composed of roughly 2.8 million residents, making it the second largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the state.
The city is often referred to by locals as St. Pete. Neighboring St. Pete Beach formally shortened its name in 1994 after a vote by its residents.
The city is located on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is connected to mainland Florida to the north; with the city of Tampa to the east by causewaysand bridges across Tampa Bay; and to Bradenton in the south by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge (Interstate 275), which traverses the mouth of the bay. It is also served by Interstates 175 and 375, which branch off I-275 into the southern and northern areas of downtown respectively. The Gandy Bridge, conceived by George Gandy and opened in 1924, was the first causeway to be built across Tampa Bay, connecting St. Petersburg and Tampa cities without a circuitous 43-mile (69 km) trip around the bay through Oldsmar.
With a purported average of some 360 days of sunshine each year, it is nicknamed “The Sunshine City”. For that reason, the city has long been a popular retirement destination, especially for those in the United States from colder Northern climates. This reputation earned the city the derisive nickname of “God’s waiting room”. In recent years, though, the population has shifted in a more youthful direction. American Style Magazine ranked St. Petersburg its top mid-size city in 2011, citing its “vibrant” arts scene. Despite the trends, Men’s Health rated St. Petersburg the “saddest city” in the United States in November 2011. The magazine calculated this ranking using the national government suicide and unemployment rates, as well as the amount of local households using anti-depressant medication and depressive mood surveys.”
Geography and climate
St. Petersburg is located at 27°46′23″N 82°38′24″W (27.773053, −82.639983).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 137.6 square miles (356.4 km2). 61.7 square miles (159.9 km2) of it is land, and 75.9 square miles (196.5 km2) of it (55.13%) is water.
St. Petersburg has a humid subtropical climate, closely bordering a tropical savanna climate, with a definite rainy season from June through September. St. Petersburg, like the rest of the Tampa Bay area, is occasionally affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. However, the last time a hurricane directly struck the city was in 1921. Many portions of St. Petersburg, especially along the bay and in south St. Petersburg, have tropical microclimates. Royal palms and coconut palms, as well as other tropical plants, grow to maturity. But coconuts may have a hard time producing fruit.
Attractions and points of interest
The city has a children’s museum (Great Explorations), Museum of Fine Arts, a History Museum (which has a full-size replica of the Benoist seaplane and is located near the approximate spot by the St. Petersburg Pier where the first flight took place), a Holocaust Museum, and the Salvador Dali Museum, which houses the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside of Europe, including a number of famous and large-scale paintings such as The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. The Chihuly Collection at 400 Beach Drive houses some of the magnificent glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly. There are also various other smaller art galleries and entertainment venues, especially in the downtown area, which has seen a boom in development since the mid 1990s; these include the Mahaffey Theater complex, American Stage (an equity regional theater), The Coliseum, and Palladium Theatre, and the Midtown Royal Theater, The Arts Center, and the Florida Craftsmen Gallery.
The St. Petersburg Pier is a popular tourist attraction. It contains a small aquarium open to the public, retail shopping, adventure activities, and both casual and fine dining restaurants. Various sightseeing boat rides are also offered. The Bounty, a replica of HMS Bounty that was used in the 1962 Technicolor remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, starring Marlon Brando, was permanently docked near the Pier for many years until the ship was sold to Ted Turner in 1986. The Bounty, however, sometimes visits St. Petersburg for the winter. In 2010, the St. Petersburg City Council voted to demolish and rebuild the pier within two years.
The city had a Madame Tussaud Wax Museum between 1963 and 1989.
Downtown is the location of the BayWalk shopping complex which contains an IMAX Muvico 20-screen movie theater, as well as many chain restaurants and retail shops, catering to more of a middle and upper class audience. BayWalk is also a nightlife destination, although it is less well attended than the block surrounding Jannus Landing, just south of BayWalk. Central Avenue, from the Yacht Club west to 8th Street, is also both more vibrant and “organic” than BayWalk with the exception of a couple underdeveloped blocks. Restaurants serving ethnic and domestic culinary specialties can be found throughout the downtown area. Every Saturday morning, from October to May, the downtown area hosts a farmers’ market in the parking area of Al Lang Field (now Progress Energy Park). Local vendors sell the fruits of their labors (whether edible or decorative) alongside artists of all kinds including live music. As of 2010, Baywalk is virtually deserted, with only Muvico remaining to anchor the complex.
Due west of downtown on Central Avenue is a district called Grand Central which is contained within Historic Kenwood. It is known for its artistic community, LGBT presence and hosting of the annual St. Pete Pride parade. Like its name implies, Old Northeast is adjacent to downtown from the northeast. It is known for its historic status and eclectic architecture. Roser Park is another historic district, located just south of downtown. It is known for its stately architecture and somewhat dubiously for its proximity to the “South Side”. Together, these areas comprise the urban core of St. Petersburg.
North of downtown is the Great Explorations Children’s Museum, an interactive museum featuring a Children’s Village with giant pretend stores, fire house and pet vet clinic, and preschool, science, music, art, and water exhibits. The museum is located next to Sunken Gardens. 4th Street as a whole, from Downtown up to Gandy Boulevard, is home to many restaurants and bars running the gamut from fast food to haute cuisine. This area is called the “Garden District”, although as of 2010 this name is not widely in use.
Boyd Hill Nature Park, located on Lake Maggiore, is a 245-acre (0.99 km2) preserve where one can see many of the endangered plants and rare wildlife of Tampa Bay. There is a bird exhibit which houses bald eagles, owls, hawks, and other species.
St. Petersburg is well regarded for its beaches. In 2005, Fort De Soto was rated the number one beach in America by the annual Dr. Beach rankings. TripAdvisor had the beach ranked number one in the nation for 2008. Also noted for its arts community, St. Petersburg regularly places top 25 in the nation among arts destinations. Recently, St. Petersburg has become known and regarded as one of America’s most livable cities.
Downtown St. Petersburg is the Central Business District, containing high rises for office use, most notably the Bank of America Tower. The Tampa Bay Times newspaper is headquartered in the downtown area. The Poynter Institute, which owns the paper, is located on 3rd Street S.
The Mahaffey Theater complex, the Morean Arts Center, dozens of other art galleries, Haslam’s used book store, The Coliseum, Palladium Theatre, and Jannus Landing are among the galleries and cultural venues featured downtown. Several prominent museums are located in the perimeter. Many of them have received notable accolades, including the Chihuly Collection presented by the Morean Arts Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Salvador Dali Museum, the Florida International Museum, and the Florida Holocaust Museum. The city also plays host to many festivals throughout the year.
Downtown contains the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and a downtown branch of St. Petersburg College. The downtown perimeter also houses several parks, most of which are waterfront or lakefront. Straub Park is nearly a half mile long, boasts a waterfront location, and is home of the Museum of Fine Arts. The Vinoy Park Hotel has a waterfront location, a spot on theNational Register of Historic Places, and a AAA Four-Diamond rating. The area contains Vinoy Park, which holds music festivals, including the Warped Tour. Nearby is the historic Tramor Cafeteria building, now part of the St. Petersburg Times. All of the above are connected via the Looper Trolley.
Most of the dining downtown can be found on or near Central Avenue or on Beach Drive near the waterfront. Central Avenue and adjacent streets also contain most of the active nightlife scene which includes bars, lounges and clubs to suit most tastes as well as two busy concert venues: Jannus Live and the State Theatre. The nightlife scene is credited to recent demographic and regulatory changes. In 2010, the city council voted to extend bar hours until 3 A.M., identical to cross-bay “rival” Tampa.
Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball‘s Tampa Bay Rays, is located in the western part of downtown. Until 2008, the team played its spring training games at Progress Energy Park, right down the road. This setup was unique, making St. Petersburg the first city that played host to its baseball team during spring training as well as the regular season since the 1919 Philadelphia Athletics. At the end of 2007, there was a debate over a new stadium to be built on the downtown waterfront at the current Progress Energy Park site. This new ballpark would have an overhead sail to cool game-time temperatures and catch rain. Tropicana Field would be demolished and replaced with prime residential and retail space. Completion of the stadium was planned for 2012; however, the proposal has been tabled indefinitely while a community-based organization investigates all alternatives for new stadium construction.
Jutting a half mile into the bay is the St. Petersburg Pier, a major tourist attraction with various activities. Due to its livability and myriad amenities, St. Petersburg’s downtown has been rated among the best in the South. The area’s beaches are a 10-mile (16 km) drive from downtown.
The Wikimedia Foundation had been located in downtown St. Petersburg since its founding by Jimmy Wales. On September 25, 2007, the Foundation announced its move in late 2007 from St. Petersburg to the San Francisco Bay Area.
St. Petersburg boasts the third-largest dedicated public waterfront park system in North America, with a waterfront park system that stretches 7 miles (11 km) and is used year round for public events, festivals and other activities. In the early 1900s, citizens and city leaders engaged in a long and boisterous debate over the future of the young city’s waterfront space, with one side advocating for commercial, port and industrial development and the other side advocating for a long-term commitment to parks and public access to the waterfront. The public access and park contingent won the debate when, on Christmas Eve 1909, the city announced the acquisition of the waterfront land that is encompassed by the waterfront park system.
The city is also becoming one of the largest destinations in Florida for kiteboarding, a relatively new water sport, with locations such as Ft. De Soto Park, Pass-a-Grille, and Ten-Cent. St. Petersburg locals such as Billy Parker and Alex Fox have gained a reputation for being some of the best kiteboarders in the world.
The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club was established in 1924 and gained attention as the “World’s Largest Shuffleboard Club” with 110 courts and over 5,000 members in the 1950s and 1960s.
Information courtesy of Wikipedia.