Monday, July 26, 2010

Up, up and away!

Nineteen-sixties aerial view of downtown St Petersburg, facing Tampa Bay. Do you recognize any of the buildings?


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Friday, July 23, 2010


3100 Fourth St. North
St Petersburg 4, Florida
New, modern, Attractively Furnished Hotel Rooms. Accommodating 2 to 5 guests. Private Tile Baths, Central Heat. Air conditioned and Air Cooled for Summer Comfort. Close to Center of Town, Million Dollar Pier, Tampa Bay Fishing, Bathing and Golfing. Open all Year. Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Keller, Owners-Mgrs.

This card is postmarked January 11, 1961.
"Hi, doing fine and having a fine time. Wish you was here. Mom"

And here is what's in its place now:

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According to Times archives this motel was built in 1950 by newlyweds from Youngstown, Ohio, Mr & Mrs Michael Antalik.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summertime blues

I love how colors meld together at the conclusion of a Florida summer sunset. This is St Pete Beach facing toward the Don CeSar Hotel.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Three views of the Million Dollar Pier

The original Million Dollar Pier, St Petersburg, sometime in the 1940s-1950s. Replaced in the 1970s by a hideous monstrosity. Read its history here. As ugly as the new one is, it does afford a very nice view of the city skyline from the rooftop deck. The heralded St Pete branch of the Columbia Restaurant is looking forlorn lately; and the downstairs, first floor shops open and go out of business in the blink of an eye.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yacht are you looking at?

St Petersburg Yacht Club, sometime in the 1950s.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Maas appeal

Of the many things I rue about long-gone St Petersburg, the Maas Brothers department store is one in particular that sticks in my craw. My dad and uncle worked at the store in the 1950s as young, college-age window dressers; I shopped there in high school if for nothing else than the awesome bargain basement sales; and later worked there briefly as a temp, then part-time salesperson, then assistant to the Store Manager. I even bought my first Eighties "word processor" from their electronics department!

It was a comfortable, if not exactly beautiful, store on the inside; high-ceilinged, with long, tall escalators, a classic candy and nut counter, and wide, open retail spaces. At Christmastime, it sparkled and was a sight to behold. Maas smelled of new fabric, leather, perfume, roasting nuts, mechanical oil, and the occasional, intermingling smells emanating from the upstairs restaurant. Two stories high, and not completely comprising a city block, Maas was a special world in and of itself in one of the country's foremost tourist towns.

Here is a flickr photo gallery showcasing most of the Bay Area's Maas stores; and you can read the history of the chain here.

And, to indulge your sweet tooth, here is an original recipe for Maas Brother's Cinnamon Twists.

When Maas went out of business the building in downtown St Pete served as the Florida International Museum for a time. It was razed in 2005 and at the site now, stands a disappointing, unremarkable building housing Progress Energy.
Needless to say, I miss it. They don't make department stores like this anymore.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn

Vintage Postcard depicting 4 classic St Pete hotels: The Vinoy, Soreno, Princess Martha and Don CeSar, which, technically, is in St. Pete Beach.

Three remain; in 1992 the Soreno was demolished for the motion picture Lethal Weapon 3 starring Mel Gibson; it is the building seen exploding after the closing credits – perhaps a degrading end to a structure that contributed so much to the growth of St. Petersburg.

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