Sunday, October 11, 2009

Old Saint Pete in Papers and Maps

I enjoy going through old St Petersburg Times and Evening Independent editions on Google Archives. You can get a real sense of what this city was like anywhere from the 1920s through the 1980s. I moved here in 1977 so obviously I recall everything after that; it's the 1940s editions of the papers that I enjoy perusing, not so much for the articles but to get an idea of the companies and businesses that were once an integral part of this city's commerce and life.

Out of curiosity, I've researched some old places and addresses from a 1940 edition of the Evening Independent (which, alas too, is defunct) to compare what was there then and now. Rather having to drive all over town, Google Maps has been a big help in this project.

In 1940, there was Aunt Martha's Candy Shop at 242 First Avenue N. According to their adverts, they offered "really good, fresh candy, made on the premises" and "pecan rolls, pralines, and glazed fruit in baskets." Now it's Tangelo's, a Carribean/Cuban sandwich shop that's been there at least since the early 1980s, in the Jannus Landing complex.

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In 1940, Repp's IGA Supermarket made its home in a generally residential neighborhood at 153 Seventh Avenue N. Sometime during the 1950s or '60s, I believe the street numbers changed for parts of the Old Northeast, at least for east-west streets. 153 Seventh doesn't come up in Google Maps, and where it would be is all old 1920s and 1930s homes and boarding houses. There is a small complex of shops at approximately 201 Seventh, where a restaurant called the Old Northeast Tavern is currently located. This seems like the most logical choice (and the only non-residential building on the street) that Repp's IGA would have called home in the forties.

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The Hough Motor Corporation was located at 333 Ninth Street N in 1940. They were a Dodge/Plymouth dealer, and in 1940, you could purchase a 1934 Plymouth Sedan for $75! You can tell by the photo that the office building (which is under a state of renovation) was constructed probably in the late 1920s by the look of the facade. To the left is an open lot, presumably where the automobiles were kept - the lack of a showroom is obvious, unless it's been razed.

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Just a few steps from Hough was the Clark Brothers Grocery at 276 Ninth Street N. Today it's a studio (dance? art?) of some sort and shares its parking lot with the famous Coney Island Grill. 276 Ninth has been nicely preserved of its Art Moderne facade. Note the solo porthole which was a popular feature of the-then budding Moderne style. The building must have been newly built in 1940 or at least in the few years before.

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There once was a supermarket at 117 Ninth Street N, called Hewitt's 9th Street Market, but it's long gone. In its place now is a hideously ugly 1960s monstrosity housing the local Verizon offices.

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