St Petersburg, FL

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Story of Midtown St Petersburg (South Side)

The story of the South Side / Midtown St Petersburg FL community began with people being recruited to work and help build the city’s infrastructures which included railroads, streets, and buildings, as well as working as servants in the hotel and restaurant industries.

Blacks came from places in Georgia, Alabama, and small towns in North Florida, beginning in the late 1800s and early 1900s. After working to help build the city, many people decided to stay and start their own community.

The first original black communities of the city were in the area of Midtown St Petersburg, which was Methodist Town, the Gas Plant area, 22nd Street aka the Deuces, and Pepper Town.

midtown st petersburg

Most of these areas, other than Methodist Town, were located south of what is now Central Avenue in the South Side (Midtown St Petersburg) around MLK, which was the designated side for the black residents during the Jim Crow days.

Successful areas were communities like Sugar Hill along 5th Avenue and 22nd Street, the heart of the city’s black culture, while other communities were considered to be either a slum or a working class neighborhoods.

These communities were filled with black-owned businesses and a sense of black people looking out for one another during the days of Jim Crow, segregation, and the Klu Klux Klan terrorizing their neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, these areas only lasted until the 1960s, around the time the city ended segregation.

Later, urban renewal destroyed or help declined certain neighborhoods with the baseball stadium, apartment complexes and the construction of Interstate 275, which completely wiped out the Gas Plant Area, Peppertown, and most of Methodist Town, leaving only the Jamestown apartments.  22nd Street is still a black community but it has since declined, leaving the city with only 10% of its businesses being black owned.

midtown st petersburg fl

Even though the St Petersburg Florida black population is small and mostly centered around the South Side or Midtown St Petersburg, the city is still one of the roughest communities in the state of Florida.

Since the early 1900s, people were always involved with street activity, but in the 1980s,  the drug epidemic contributed to neighborhoods like Jordan Park and Bethel Heights to become two of the roughest areas in the Tampa Bay metropolitan, with police known as the “Green Team” constantly raiding and arresting people of the two housing projects of Midtown St Petersburg or the South Side.

childs park st petersburg fl

By the 1990s and 2000s, communities like Childs Park and other SouthSide/Midtown blocks became just as active, with Harbordale or the Bartlett Park area, while many communities became rivals of each other.

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Check out more of St. Petersburg, FL:

Map of St Pete and Tampa Bay Hoods: http://www.therealstreetz.com/2015/04/16/map-tampa-bay-area/

Watch History Of Tha Streetz: Tampa Bay – http://www.therealstreetz.com/2015/05/07/history-tha-streetz-tampa-bay/

Resources

Peck, Rosalie and Wilson, Jon. “St. Petersburg’s Historic African-American Neighborhoods”. History Press. 2008

Rooks, Sandra. “St. Petersburg Florida (Black America Series)” Arcadia Publishing. 2003

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