Suncoast residents watch Pier vote with nostalgia

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SARASOTA - Chris Jones of Sarasota has fond memories of going to this odd-shaped tourist attraction in St. Petersburg called the Pier.

"It was good food and a lot of neat places to shop around there," Jones said.

Cracks in the structure caused the city to shut down the 40 year old icon a few months ago. But the pier has plenty of history before this.

Will Michaels wrote a book on 'The Making of St. Petersburg.'

He says the first 'real' pier structure was built in the 1920's when the city borrowed a million dollars to construct a Mediteranean-style 'palace.'

So it was named 'The Million Dollar Pier.' A million dollars then is worth about $50 million dollars now- around-the same price quoted for the project voters are being asked to approve or reject today.

"They became a tremendous destination where tourists would come--you had spa beach, but most of the activity was on the pier itself," Michaels said.

But 40 years later, in 1967--the million dollar pier was demolished, making room for the current pier that also lasted about 40 years.

Chris Miller says, "It was a neat place to go into, the whole pier area, of course it looks like it was built upside down."

Whether an upside down pyramid or a wrap around place called a lens, St. Pete is never dull with its ideas for the Pier.