Seems like all great cities have their special, quirky neighborhoods. And the quirks exist for different reasons. Some are quirky out of necessity, like Lombard Street in San Francisco — because the natural terrain there is so steep, the only way to make a road that was safe to travel was to introduce constant sharp curves so that cars don’t go out of control. But some neighborhoods are quirky because that’s the way the developer wanted it! Such is the case with the Pink Streets neighborhood in St. Petersburg. Back in the 1920′s, the Pinellas Point Pink Streets development was dreamed up by a guy named George Cook. Cook’s Murok Development Company had grand visions for an upscale neighborhood that would outdo any other development in the area. According to W. L. Straub’s History of Pinellas County, Cook “ordered the pink streets because no one else had them. They were thought very chic and caused a sensation.” Actually, Cook’s plans for the Pinellas Point neighborhood were much grander than what actually was built. An old plat map of his development shows the existing streets and neighborhood, but also shows proposed additions, made up of fill that was to have extended out a third of a mile past the current waterfront, out into Tampa Bay. There would have been canals and a lot more houses, probably looking something like areas of Venetian Isles do today. But in 1926, the St. Petersburg boom period was over, and not only was the additional fill never completed, but much of the Pink Streets development area sat empty for years.
Over time, lots were purchased and homes were built. If you drive through the area, you’ll see a wide range of houses – all sizes, all architectural styles. But regardless of the type of house, the area residents have always loved the Pink Streets, the lush trees in the neighborhood, the curvy roads, the essence of being different from the rest of the city. And so, in the 1980′s, when the old concrete streets were so badly cracked and patched that you risked your car’s health to even drive on them, it’s not surprising that residents pushed the city to ensure that, when it came time to repave their streets, they’d be paved in pink concrete again.
If you’d like to see for yourself, the Pink Streets neighborhood runs between about 10th Street and 21st Street, just south of Pinellas Point Drive South. Some of the roads dead-end with a view overlooking the bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. There are some gorgeous old houses, along with some fine newer ones! It’s a nice drive if you’re just in the mood to get out and see something different.