Pinellas County

Pinellas County

Pinellas County, I Love US 19
Pinellas County is included in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area

Birth of Pinellas County

Even into the early years of the 20th century, West Hillsborough had no paved roads, and transportation posed a major challenge. A trip to the county seat, across the bay in Tampa, was generally an overnight affair and the automobiles that existed on the peninsula at that time would frequently become bogged down in the muck after rainstorms. Angry at what was perceived as neglect by the county government, residents of Pinellas began a push to secede from Hillsborough. They succeeded, and on January 1, 1912 Pinellas County came into being. The peninsula, along with a small part of the mainland were incorporated into the new county.
Hillsborough River, I Love US 19
The road crosses the Hillsborough River over a high bridge built in 1960.

Land boom and prohibition

Tony Jannus, I Love US 19
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Today’s $160-billion airline industry started on January 1, 1914 when local pilot Tony Jannus landed a biplane near downtown Tampa, Fl.

Aviation history was made in St. Petersburg on January 1, 1914 when Tony Jannus made the world’s first scheduled commercial airline flight with the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line from St. Petersburg to Tampa. The popular open-air St. Petersburg concert venue Jannus Landing memorializes the flight.

The former mayor of St. Petersburg, normally three hours away by train, paid $400 for the 23-min flight. Tony, at age 24, became the world’s first commercial pilot.

Tony had already made a name for himself in the emerging aeronautical industry. In 1912, he piloted the first parachutist to jump from a moving aircraft. Tony regularly set altitude records. He was known as a lady’s man, a daredevil, the center of attention at every party he attended.

The early 1920s saw the beginning of a land boom in much of Florida, including Pinellas. During this period municipalities issued a large number of bonds to keep pace with the needed infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. The travel time to Tampa was cut in half—from 43 to 19 miles (69 to 31 km)—by the opening of the Gandy Bridge in 1924, along the same route Jannus’ airline used. It was the longest automobile toll bridge in the world at the time.

Prohibition was unpopular in the area and the peninsula’s countless inlets and islands became havens for rum runners bringing in liquor from Cuba. Others distilled moonshine in the County’s still plentiful woods.[9]

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council was founded by the late mayor of St. Petersburg, Herman Goldner, who sought without success during the 1960s to consolidate various municipalities and unincorporated areas in south Pinellas County. Each year the council presents its Herman Goldner Award for Regional Leadership.[11]

Sunshine Skyway Bridge, I Love US 19
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Tragedy struck on May 9, 1980, when the southbound span of the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge was struck by the freighter MV Summit Venture during a storm, sending over 1,200 feet (370 m) of the bridge plummeting into Tampa Bay. The collision caused ten cars and a Greyhound bus to fall 150 feet (46 m) into the water, killing 35 people. The new bridge opened in 1987 and has since been listed as #3 of the “Top 10 Bridges” in the World by the Travel Channel.

The county operates a 21-acre (8.5 ha) living history museum called Heritage Village containing more than 28 historic structures, some dating back to the 19th century, where visitors can experience what life was once like in Pinellas.

Pinellas County celebrated 100 years of existence on January 1, 2012.