The Sunshine City

Sunshine City Mural

A walkable downtown marked by historic architectural landmarks, one of the country’s largest public waterfronts, and shaded historic neighborhoods–St. Petersburg is special! With an average temperature of 73 degrees and 361 days of sunshine, St. Pete has earned the moniker, the “Sunshine City.” The title dates to 1910 when newspaper editor Lew Brown began the “sunshine offer” of giving away the Evening Independent if the sun didn’t shine! The city can even be found in the Guinness World Records for having 768 days of consecutive sunshine!

Many trace the city’s start to 1888 when the Orange Belt railroad was built, along with the still existing Detroit Hotel, by Russian emigrant Peter Demens. He had played off John Williams and Hamilton Disston, the “Pinellas” peninsula’s two largest landowners, for the “best” deal to bring the railroad to town. Disston, from a wealthy Philadelphia family, had “bailed out” Florida in 1881 when he purchased 4 million acres from the state for $1,000,000. The purchase made Disston the country’s largest landowner.

In 1918, John Lodwick came to St. Petersburg and began using sunshine, sports and bathing beauties to market the city as the nation’s playground of perpetual well-being. Lodwick’s efforts helped set the stage for the city’s boom in the early 1920s. The city’s population more than doubled during the decade to 40,000+ and iconic buildings like the Vinoy Hotel, the Open Air Post Office and the YMCA were constructed. The walking tour maps in this booklet will guide you to some of the city’s historic architectural landmarks and help you understand what makes St. Pete
special! Enjoy your walk!