St. Petersburg is the second-largest city in the Tampa Bay Area, after Tampa. Together with Clearwater, these cities comprise the Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, the second-largest in Florida with a population of around 2.8 million. St. Petersburg is located on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and is connected to mainland Florida to the north.
St. Petersburg was founded in 1888 by John C. Williams, who purchased the land, and by Peter Demens, who brought the railroad industry into the area. As a part of a coin toss bet, the winner, Peter Demens, named the land after Saint Petersburg, Russia, while Williams opted to name the first hotel built which was named the Detroit Hotel, both named after their home towns respectively. St. Petersburg was incorporated as a town on February 29, 1892 and re-incorporated as a city on June 6, 1903.
With an average of some 361 days of sunshine each year, and a Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine (768 days), it is nicknamed "The Sunshine City". Due to its good weather and low cost of living, the city has long been a popular retirement destination, although in recent years the population has moved in a much more youthful direction. American Style magazine ranked St. Petersburg its top mid-size city in 2011, citing its "vibrant" arts scene.
The city was co-founded by John C. Williams, formerly of Detroit, who purchased the land in 1875, and by Peter Demens who was instrumental in bringing the terminus of the Orange Belt Railway there in 1888. The first major newspaper to debut in Tampa Bay was the St. Petersburg Times which established in 1884. St. Petersburg was incorporated as a town on February 29, 1892, when it had a population of only some 300 people.
A local legend says that John C. Williams and Peter Demens flipped a coin to see who would have the honor of naming the city. When Demens won the coin toss the city was named after Saint Petersburg, Russia, where Peter Demens had spent half of his youth, while John C. Williams named the first hotel after his birthplace, Detroit (a hotel built by Demens). The Detroit Hotel still exists downtown, but has been turned into a condominium. The oldest running hotels are the historic Pier Hotel, built in 1921, formally Hotel Cordova and The Heritage Hotel (now named Hotel Indigo), built in 1926.
Philadelphia publisher F. A. Davis turned on St. Petersburg's first electrical service in 1897 and its first trolley service in 1904. The city's first major industry was born in 1899 when Henry W. Hibbs (1862–1942), a native of Newport, North Carolina, established his wholesale fish business at the end of the railroad pier, which extended out to the shipping channel. Within a year, Hibbs Fish Company was shipping more than 1,000 pounds (450 kg) of fish each day.
St. Petersburg was incorporated into a city in June 1903. With this transition, the development of the downtown waterfront had dredging of a deeper shipping channel from 1906 to 1908 which opened St. Petersburg to larger shipping. Further dredging improved the port facilities through the 1910s. By then the city's population had quadrupled to a population of 4,127 citizens.
In 1914, the Tampa Bay area was one of the first Floridian cities that fell in love with baseball tracing its roots from Tampa and St. Petersburg. The former mayor of St. Petersburg, Al Lang, had invited the St. Louis Browns to move their spring training into the city. Taking place in the same year, the airplane service across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Tampa and back was initiated, generally considered the first scheduled commercial airline flight. The company name was the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, and the pilot was Tony Jannus, flying a Benoist XIV flying boat. The Tony Jannus Award is presented annually for outstanding achievement in the airline industry. Jannus Live, a local music/entertainment venue on Central Avenue in downtown, is also named after him. Soon after, St. Petersburg's first library opened on December 1, 1915 which still operates till this day as the Mirror Lake Library.
The 1920s in St. Petersburg was big due to its major growth brought by tourists. Tourists came from all over by automobile, yacht, and railroad. Travel time from across the bay was cut due to the Gandy Bridge's opening in 1924, helping St. Petersburg increase in tourist numbers and helped grow it into the largest city in Pinellas County. The city also adopted the Mediterranean-style architecture brought by Snell Isles founder Perry Snell. An attraction that brought on a great number of tourists and citizens was the Million Dollar Pier which was built in 1926.
Tourists declined by the late 1920s and early 1930s due to the Great Depression. Shortly after near the end of the Great Depression, the city recovered due to the help of the Public Works Administration with a $10 million investment plan which helped build the St. Petersburg City Hall.
By the 1940s the city received a large population growth due to World War II. St. Petersburg was a training ground area for the U.S. Coast Guard who had a training base and used the city's Bayboro Harbor, and for the Army Air Force who was selected by the War Department to use the city as their technical service training station. With both stations occupying the city, more than 100,000 troops occupied all hotels in St. Petersburg. After the war, most troops who were stationed in St. Petersburg returned as residents or tourists.
In the 1950s, St. Petersburg experienced another population increase with residents. The development of transportation was important with the increase of tourists, more automobiles were used in the city and subsequently the public street cars were removed. In 1954 the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened its first span to link St. Petersburg with Manatee County. A year later in 1955, Highway 19 opened in the city creating a large influx of traffic. By the end of the 1950s, tourists and retirees increased in the area.
The development of major transportation continued into the 1960s with the completion of the Howard Frankland Bridge in 1960, creating another connection between St. Petersburg and Tampa. St. Petersburg also received its first stadium named the Bayfront Center which hosted the first professional hockey league in Tampa Bay. A new municipal marina and the Museum of Fine Arts were also built downtown. St. Petersburg is home to one of the world's largest reclaimed water systems that was built in the 1970s which flows 37 million gallons of water per day to provide for customers located throughout the city.
From May to August 1968, 211 of the city's sanitation workers struck for higher wages. The strike began approximately one month after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee while supporting that city's sanitation workers strike.
Development of the first major league baseball team to be located in the Tampa Bay area began in St. Petersburg throughout the 1970s. The city tried to encourage numerous teams through the United States to make St. Petersburg their new tenant. With the need of a major league baseball team, designs for a ballpark were first presented in 1983 and construction for a permanent dome stadium began in 1986. The stadium opened in 1990 as the Florida Suncoast Dome, later named the Thunderdome in 1993. After many attempts to attract tenants to the new stadium, Major League Baseball gave St. Petersburg a franchise in 1995. In 1996, the dome was renamed a third time to Tropicana Field after naming rights were established with Tropicana Dole Beverages. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays was then established in 1998 after the stadium's renovation and the new team played their first game on March 31, 1998, giving the Tampa Bay area their first professional baseball team.
The city population continued to multiply during the 20th century, booming in the 1940s and 1950s and through the 1970s as the town became a popular retirement destination for Americans from midwestern cities, reaching 238,647 in the 1980 census. By that time, however, the population had leveled off, and has grown by only 10,000 since then. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the population of the city dropped by approximately 4000 residents, while in the same period the population of Florida increased by over two and a half million residents.
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 is bordered by three bodies of water, the Old Tampa Bay, Middle Tampa Bay, and Lower Tampa Bay, all of which form the Tampa Bay.
Downtown St. Petersburg is the Central Business District, containing high rises for office use, most notably the tallest building in the city, One Progress Plaza. The Tampa Bay Times newspaper is headquartered in the downtown area. The Poynter Institute, which owns the paper, is located on 3rd Street South.
The Mahaffey Theater complex, the Morean Arts Center, dozens of other art galleries, Haslam's Bookstore, The Coliseum, Palladium Theatre, and Jannus Live 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 Dalí Museum, the Florida International Museum, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, and the Florida Holocaust Museum. The city hosts many outdoor festivals throughout the year.
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. Jutting a half mile into the bay was the St. Petersburg Pier, a major tourist attraction that offered various activities. "The Lens" design which was chosen by the International Design Competition Jury and accepted by City Council later had its contract terminated by a citywide election during the summer of 2013. Following this, the "Pier Park" was chosen out of the 16 new design teams that submitted work in late 2014 and in 2015 the Pier Park was set for construction in early 2017. Downtown also contains the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and a downtown branch of St. Petersburg College. The downtown perimeter includes 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 St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. The Vinoy Park Hotel has a bayfront location, a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, and an AAA Four-Diamond rating. It fronts Vinoy Park, which holds music festivals, including the Warped Tour. Nearby is the historic Tramor Cafeteria building, now part of the Tampa Bay Times. The city is connected via the Looper Trolley.
Most of the dining and nightlife can be found downtown on or near Central Avenue or Beach Drive along the waterfront. Venues include Jannus Live and the State Theatre. The active 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 nearby Progress Energy Park. 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. 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.
When the Wikimedia Foundation was founded by Jimmy Wales in 2003 it was originally located in downtown St. Petersburg. The foundation adopted its articles of incorporation in the city in 2005. On September 25, 2007, the Foundation announced its move in late 2007 from St. Petersburg to the San Francisco Bay Area.
St. Petersburg has 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 20th century, 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 with locations such as Fort De Soto Park, Pass-a-Grille, and Ten-Cent.
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.
St. Petersburg is home to more than 100 neighborhoods, with most of the historic districts located near the bay. In the eastern center of the city is Downtown St. Petersburg, which includes the cities residential and commercial skyscrapers, art galleries, museums, and parks. The downtown area is home the central business district to many start-up companies, corporation branches, banks, law firms, and restaurants. Apart from downtown's business and cultural aesthetics, the area resides a branch of St. Petersburg College and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Finally, the downtown district is home to two professional sports teams, the Tampa Bay Rays who reside west of downtown at Tropicana Field, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies who are located downtown at Al Lang Stadium.
North of Downtown St. Petersburg lies Historic Old Northeast and Snell Isle, both are a place of residence to Mediterranean style historic and waterfront homes, parks, and recreational areas. Old Northeast is also home to a shopping district, city landmarks, beaches, and small shops as well as small residential high rises. Snell Isle however was founded by C. Perry Snell who bought up the land to develop upscale properties in the 1900s, and helped create some of St. Petersburg's resorts such as the Vinoy Park Hotel and the St. Petersburg Woman's Club; both of which are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The western side of St. Petersburg includes the Grand Central District and Historic Kenwood. The Grand Central District houses the cities cafes, art galleries, restaurants, and bars all owing to the Renaissance style architecture. Whilst in Historic Kenwood is filled with art studios and galleries similarly to the Grand Central District.
Southward to St. Petersburg is Historic Roser Park, which houses Mediterranean style housing, parks, and museums. The neighborhood is divided by Booker Creek which flows into Bayboro Harbor.
St. Petersburg has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa), 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 1946. Many portions of St. Petersburg, especially along the bay and in south St. Petersburg, have tropical micro-climates. Due to this royal palms and coconut palms, as well as other tropical plants can be found throughout the city. For the winter of 2014–15, the lowest recorded temperature at the St. Petersburg Downtown Airport was 40 degrees Fahrenheit (four degrees Celsius), which the city recorded on February 20. During the summer of 2015, the highest temperature recorded in the city was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), occurring on both June 16 and July 20. St. Petersburg has not recorded any freezing temperatures in the five-year period dating back to November 2010, which is the oldest data available from the local National Weather Service office page.
According to a 2010 census, the city contained 244,769 people, making St. Petersburg the largest city in Pinellas County, and 129,401 households. The population density was 3,964.4 per square mile (1530.7/km²).
The racial makeup of St. Petersburg was 168,036 (68.7%) White, 58,577 (23.9%) African American, 7,779 (3.2%) Asian (0.8% Vietnamese, 0.5% Filipino, 0.5% Indian, 0.3% Chinese, 0.1% Korean, 0.1% Japanese, and 1.0% Other Asian), 723 (0.3%) Native American, 135 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 3,474 (1.4%) from other races, and 6,045 (2.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 16,214 (6.6%), with 5,272 (2.2%) Puerto Rican, 2,855 (1.2%) Mexican, 2,835 (1.2%) Cuban, and other Hispanic or Latino making up 5,252 (2.1%) of the population.
With the city having 129,401 households, 108,815 (84.1%) were occupied while 20,586 (15.9%) were not occupied. With 108,815 of the population in households, 3,888 (1.6%) lived in non-institutionalized group-quarters and 2,719 (1.1%) were institutionalized. There were 108,815 households, out of which 23,304 (21.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 37,847 (34.8%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 16,425 (15.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, 4,849 (4.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 9,453 (3.9%) unmarried partnerships. 39,397 households (36.2%) were made up of individuals and 28,267 (26.0%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19. Out of 108,815 occupied households, families made up 59,121 (54.3%) while non-families made up 49,694 (45.7%); the average family size was 2.88. The median age of the city was 41.6 years.
As of 2000, 23.85% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.295% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no adult living partner present, and 43.8% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.865.
In 2000, the city's population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.24 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.
As of 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $34,597, and the median income for a family was $43,198. Males had a median income of $30,794 versus $27,860 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,107. About 9.2% of families and 13.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.1% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over. In 2010, 17.8% of the population was under the poverty line, including 32.2% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2000, those who spoke only English at home accounted were 88.53% of residents, Spanish was spoken by 4.43%, German by 0.78%, French by 0.72% of speakers, Vietnamese by 0.67%, Serbo-Croatian by 0.52%, and Laotian by 0.51% of the population.
St. Petersburg has the 6th highest rate of violent crime in Florida, and the lowest number of murder and manslaughter offenses of the top 6 violent crime cities in Florida. It is the 58th ranking city in the United States when it comes to violent crime. It is less safe than 95% of cities in Florida. Evidence of the social unrest and the schism within the city, particularly between South St. Petersburg and the rest of the city came with the St. Petersburg, Florida riots of 1996. A notable murder in the city of an officer was the murder of Police Officer David Crawford by then-teenager Nicholas Lindsey.
According to the City of St. Petersburg, Florida's 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the largest employers in the city are:
One of the first of many major events of the year that takes place is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, which is held in the month of January. The parade hosts many bands facing off in a Battle of the Bands, Drum Line Extravaganzas that has been duplicated throughout other cities. In March the city hosts the annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The annual Grand Prix is located in downtown St. Petersburg and is the first round of the IndyCar Series. The downtown race usually lasts three days with practice rounds, qualifications, and two main races.
Bluesfest is the earliest event which is hosted in the Vinoy Park. Bluesfest hosts multiple live blues artists, views of the Tampa Bay waters from the park, and providing drinks and free food. One of the many art festivals, called the Mainsail Art Festival, is free entry art exhibition which takes place at the Vinoy Park, which provides people quality art that they can purchase from local artists. The art festival also provides live music, awards, and food courts. The triathlon event which takes place downtown is hosted by St. Anthony's Hospital which involves a 1.5k swim through Tampa Bay, a 40k bike along the waterways, and a 10k run through the neighborhoods and onlooking spectators. One of the last major events is the Green Thumb Festival, a special event originating in 1986 to promote tree beautification and planting in the city of St. Petersburg which is currently located in Walter Fuller Park.
A major event that takes place in June is the St. Pete Pride weekend. During this weekend, the LGBT community and supporters come to celebrate in the streets with festivals, 27/82 concert, LGBT pride parade, pride in fashion, and so much more. The St. Pete Pride weekend also hosts a variety of block parties, food stands, DJ stands, art festivals, local hosted parties, and the LGBT welcoming center. In July, the 4th of July firework celebration invites the citizens to downtown St. Petersburg to watch the fireworks. In November, one of the last major music and food events hosted in St. Petersburg is the annual Ribfest located at the Vinoy Park. Ribfest hosts many festivities that include teams of award-winning "ribbers" and other "yummies", family fun zones, drinking vendors, and two stages hosting many well known country music artists.
From the end of November through December begins holiday events. During this time, the city has a tree lighting ceremony to start celebrations. The first event of this holidays is the Santa Parade followed by Snowfest with "glice" skating, toboggan slides, Kiddyland, and other events. Kids are able to meet Santa and ice skate in the North Straub Park. North and South Straub park are decorated with holiday lights and decorations while the Vinoy Park is decorated with large Greeting cards created by the Recreational Centers in St. Petersburg. The city hosts an annual NCAA football game in Tropicana Field entitled the St. Petersburg Bowl every year in mid December. On December 31, St. Petersburg has its last event called the First Night St. Petersburg where people celebrate the arts from venues across the city.
Around the year, the American Stage in the Park hosts many different shows at the Demens Landing Park. St. Petersburg has also hosted the Miss Florida Pageant eleven consecutive years from 2004 to 2015 until it was moved to Lakeland, Florida.
The city has a children's museum (Great Explorations), the Museum of Fine Arts, and will soon host the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement (expected to open in 2017), The St. Petersburg Museum of History (which has a full-size replica of the Benoist XIV seaplane and is located near the approximate spot by the St. Petersburg Pier where the first scheduled commercial flight departed), a Holocaust Museum, and the Salvador Dalí 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, located 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 was a popular tourist attraction, which is now closed since May 2013. 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 visited St. Petersburg for the winter in the following years before its sinking in 2012. In 2010, the St. Petersburg City Council voted to demolish and rebuild the pier, which is set to open in 2018.
The city had a Madame Tussaud Wax Museum between 1963 and 1989.
Downtown is the location of the Sundial shopping complex which opened in May 2014. It 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. The Sundial St. Pete has nightlife destination, although it is less well attended than the block surrounding Jannus Live, just south of Sundial St. Pete. Central Avenue, from the Yacht Club west to 8th Street, is also both more vibrant and "organic" the Sundial St. Pete 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 Stadium (formerly Progress Energy Park). Local vendors sell the fruits of their labors (whether edible or decorative) alongside artists of all kinds including live music.
West of downtown on Central Avenue is the district known as 600 Block Arts District. The district contains art from Bohemian origins and clothing stores. The eve-N-odd gallery is located in the historic Crislip Arcade built in 1925. The refurbished shopping arcade is one of 13 original city arcades built in the city. Only three are left and only the Crislip arcade is still being used as a place for small businesses to set up shop. Further west is the Grand Central District located within Historic Kenwood District. It is known for its artistic community, LGBT presence, and hosting of the annual St. Pete Pride parade. Haslam's Bookstore can also be found in the Grand Central District. It is the largest independent bookstore in Florida with over 30,000 square feet. Like its name implies, Old Northeast is adjacent to downtown from the northeast. It is known for its historic status and eclectic architecture. St. Petersburg boasts two historic neighborhoods: Roser Park, located just south of the downtown area, and Grenada Terrace, in the Old Northeast Neighborhood. Both are known for stately architecture and together, 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. St. Petersburg has become known and regarded as one of America's most livable cities.
The area's main shopping mall is Tyrone Square Mall, constructed in 1972 and is located in the northwestern part of the city.
St. Petersburg has been used as a filming location for films over the years including Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Summer Rental (1985), Cocoon (1985), Ocean's Eleven (2001), Loren Cass (2006), Dolphin Tale (2011), Magic Mike (2012), Spring Breakers (2013), and Dolphin Tale 2 (2014).
The Tampa-St. Petersburg area is represented by teams in four major professional sports (soccer, football, baseball, and hockey). Two teams, the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball and Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League play in St. Petersburg proper, while the other two teams play across the bay in Tampa. All of the teams represent the entire Tampa Bay metropolitan area.
The Rays began play in 1998, finishing last in the American League's East Division in nine of the first ten seasons they played, including their last year known as the "Devil Rays": 2007. However, in 2008, their 11th season, they held off the Boston Red Sox and won the AL East Division Championship for the first time. In the playoffs, they again faced the Red Sox in the ALCS. They defeated Boston and won the American League Pennant. However, they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 World Series.
From their inception until 2008, the Rays played their regular season games at Tropicana Field and their spring training games at historic Al Lang Stadium, formerly Progress Energy Park, giving them the unique distinction of being the only team in Major League Baseball that played its spring training games in their home city in more than 70 years. However, starting in 2009, the Rays have held spring training at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, ending a 94-year streak of springtime baseball in the city. Tropicana Field, the home venue of the Rays, played host to the 1999 Final Four.
St. Petersburg is also home to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the inaugural race was held in April 2005. The circuit itself is made of downtown streets passing Al Lang Stadium, the marina, and a runway in Albert Whitted Airport, and streets are temporarily blocked off for the annual Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series race. The race has been confirmed to return every year until at least 2017. In 2012, the road intersecting Turn 10 was renamed Dan Wheldon Way in memory of Dan Wheldon, who won the 2005 race thanks to a move made on that turn. Wheldon was killed in an accident at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the 2011 season finale.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League began to play at Al Lang Stadium in April 2011, moving from George M. Steinbrenner Field after the 2010 season. They initially were going to play at Al Lang Stadium for 2 years however, on September 12, 2012, the Rowdies announced that they would be play at Al Lang stadium for a further 4 years.
Al Lang Stadium was named in honor of Al Lang, a former mayor of St. Petersburg who was responsible for bringing baseball spring training to the city in 1914.
St. Petersburg is the home of many past and present sports icons. WBC and IBF Light Middleweight Champion Ronald "Winky" Wright, and IBF, IBO, and WBO Champion Jeff Lacy hail from the area. Ernest Givins, Stacey Simmons, William Floyd, and Pat Terrell are some of the famous retired National Football League players from the city. Shaun King, Marquel Blackwell, Aveion Cason, Darren Howard, Tim Carter, Kenny Heatly, and DeAndrew Rubin are some players currently in the NFL from the city. Major League Baseball pitcher Doug Waechter is also from St. Petersburg, as well as Minnesota Twins pitcher Boof Bonser. Indy Racing League driver and two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon (2005 and 2011) resided in St. Petersburg prior to his death in October 2011.
The Bay Area Pelicans Rugby Football Club has made their home in St. Petersburg since 1977. The Pelicans play in USA Rugby's Division II competing against teams throughout Florida and the United States. Throughout its history, the teams have won honors as Florida Cup Champions as well as berths in National Championship Tournaments.
Despite not having a team in the city since 2000 (with the St. Petersburg Devil Rays), St. Petersburg is home to Minor League Baseball's main headquarters.
The International Shuffleboard Association was founded in St. Petersburg in 1979.
The city of St. Petersburg has been governed under a strong mayor form of government since 1993. The Mayor of St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg City Council members are elected for a four-year term and are limited to two consecutive terms. Currently the mayor of St. Petersburg is mayor Rick Kriseman who took office on January 2, 2014 with the legislative body consisting of the eight City Council members representing each of their designated city districts.
Public primary and secondary schools in St. Petersburg are administered by Pinellas County Schools. Public high schools within the city limits include:Dixie M. Hollins High School
Gibbs High School
Lakewood High School
Northeast High School
St. Petersburg High School
Private high schools include:Canterbury School of Florida
St. Petersburg Catholic High School
Shorecrest Preparatory School
St. Petersburg Collegiate High School
Keswick Christian School
Admiral Farragut Academy
Northside Christian School
The non-profit Science Center of Pinellas County educates more than 22,000 school children annually through field trip classes and offers winter, spring and summer workshops for 2,000 more.
St. Petersburg is home to several institutions of higher education. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is an autonomous campus in the University of South Florida system. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg serves 6,500 students. Eckerd College, founded in 1958, is a private four-year liberal arts college. St. Petersburg College is a state college in the Florida College System. Also in St. Petersburg is the Poynter Institute, a journalism institute which owns the Tampa Bay Times in a unique arrangement. Also, Stetson Law School is located in Gulfport, which is adjacent to St. Pete between the south beaches.
Other colleges and universities in the wider Tampa Bay Area include the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa located in Tampa and Hillsborough Community College, with campuses across Hillsborough County.
The city's main daily morning newspapers are the Tampa Bay Times as well as its free daily sister publication tbt*. Other newspapers available in the area are the daily St. Petersburg Tribune and the free weekly alternative newspaper Creative Loafing. iLovetheBurg.com is an award-winning and popular online source of information for downtown St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg is in the Tampa-St. Petersburg television and radio markets. WTSP channel 10 (CBS) and WTOG channel 44 (The CW) are licensed to St. Petersburg, with studios in unincorporated Pinellas County in the Gandy Boulevard area just north of the St. Petersburg limits. Bay News 9, the local cable TV news service, is based in northeast St. Petersburg. Independent station WTTA is licensed to St. Petersburg, with studios in Tampa. Official city government programming, known as StPeteTV, can be found on Bright House Networks Cable on Channel 641, WOW! Cable on Channel 15 or Verizon FiOS Channel 20 as well as online. In 2013 the city of St. Petersburg wants to sell its broadcast licence WSPF-CA channel 35.
Cable television service is provided by Charter Communications (previously Bright House Networks) and Wide Open West (previously Knology), as well as fiber optic service provider Frontier Communications (previously Verizon FiOS).
The city is connected to Tampa by the east by causeways and 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.
Nearby Tampa International Airport provides air transportation for most passengers. Smaller airlines, with destinations to smaller cities and towns, operate at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, with most tenants providing only seasonal services. Albert Whitted Airport provides general aviation services near the heart of downtown St. Petersburg.
Mass transit in St. Petersburg is provided by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA). A sightseeing trolley, called The Looper, also travels to key downtown destinations daily such as USFSP, Sundial, Vinoy Hotel, and the multiple museums around the city. The Looper costs only 50 cents to ride and provides free drop off points throughout the transit.
CSX Transportation operates a former Atlantic Coast Line Railroad branch line which sees daily rail traffic from north Tampa though Safety Harbor, Clearwater, and Largo. As of March 2008, the portion that ran into downtown St. Petersburg and the adjacent western industrial areas was abandoned. There is a small rail yard to the northwest of downtown St. Petersburg at the new end of the rail line with several spur lines serving industries in the area.
The former Seaboard Air Line branch from the western coastal portion of the county was abandoned in the 1980s and converted to a popular recreational trail called the Pinellas Trail.
Notable former stations include the St. Petersburg ACL station, which became an Amtrak station from 1971 to 1983, St. Petersburg Seaboard Air Line Passenger Station, and the St. Petersburg Seaboard Coast Line station.
One of the main sea transportation areas in St. Peterburg is the Port of St. Petersburg, which is located in downtown St. Petersburg. Boat marinas in downtown St. Petersburg are also available such as the Municipal Marina which located in the Southern and Central Yacht Basins, and Harborage Marina located in the Bayboro Harbor.
The city of St. Petersburg's major electricity system is provided by Duke Energy, the city's major gas system is provided by TECO Energy in the industrial and commercial parts of the city, and the city's water services are provided by the city of St. Petersburg.
The city of St. Petersburg, Florida is currently a member in the Sister Cities International group that was created in 1956. Takamatsu, Japan (since 1961)
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Figueres, Spain (since 2011)