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In 1885 at the thirty-sixth annual meeting of the American Medical Society in New Orleans, a paper was circulated describing the area now known as St. Petersburg as the perfect place for a “health city” to be built. Point Pinellas was described at that time as a large subpeninsular “overlooking the deep Gulf of Mexico, with the broad waters of a beautiful bay nearly surrounding it, but with little upon its soil but primal forest”. With no marshes and an average winter temperature of 72 degrees, it was speculated to be the best climate in Florida.
Founded through the combined efforts of General John Williams of Detroit, Michigan and Russian emigre, Peter Demens, St. Petersburg’s first important growth started in 1888 as a summer resort. Low rate rail excursion fares and cooler temperatures attracted summer vacationers. Cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, citrus farmers were attracted to the area after the great freeze of 1894-95 froze crops in other parts of the state.