Ancient roads of Pinellas County??
August 21, 2014 10:12 AM   Subscribe

What used to be in these preserves in northern St Petersburg FL?

A couple weeks ago I was flying home and noticed out my window that there appeared to be outlines of streets/home tracts in the dense tree pack below me on the Tampa Bay side of St Petersburg.

In taking a closer look on Google Earth I see what appears to be water and a boat at one "intersection" but further to the south I can't see below the canopy. Given the greyish dots I feel like these are homes decayed homes or plots that never got built?

Further south there's Weedon Island Preserve and there's lots of information on the web about that, but it doesn't really make sense that it looks like there is a street style grid under the canopy.

All I can think of is that as preservation initiatives have grown the county or state has gobbled up these lands and razed the homes - but I can't even find information about that. Alternatively the land was bought up when they built I-275 through there, but while I can find references to this sort of thing happening in the southern part of St Pete/Pinellas I can't find it for this area.

Can any Mefite shed some light on this? Theories more exciting than my own very much welcome.
posted by FlamingBore to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
According to this brochure about the Weedon Island Preserve (see page 29), a developer named Eugene M. Elliott owned the land and subdivided it into lots with the intention of selling it to speakeasy customers in the 1920s. Due to a 1926 housing crash and the 1929 Depression, nothing was ever actually built except for a speakeasy called the San Remo Club. The map on page 56 corresponds pretty well to the area where these mysterious roads are found.
posted by theodolite at 10:31 AM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Florida has tons of failed developments that never got beyond laying out the road grid. Look at Google Earth in like Collier County. Its crazy.
posted by JPD at 10:35 AM on August 21, 2014

They may instead be drainage canals, of which there are many in Pinellas County. It may be too swampy to build there. Could be mangroves!
posted by mareli at 10:50 AM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks theodolite. I'd found that site, but managed to overlook that brochure. Excellent catch and that explains the Weedon Island land.

I wonder about the land north of Gandy Bridge though - I don't image that was all part of the same plot, but I could be wrong and mareli may be right that there's drainage canals, but the fact that there are those grey spots lined up like fallen and decayed buildings makes me wonder if there weren't homes along those canals.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:35 AM on August 21, 2014

Non Interesting Aside: I'm at work and about 2 minutes away from this area. I could always put on some waders and stomp around and see what happens. Besides mosquito bites and alligator attacks.

My guess would be similar to Mareli's - they are some sort of drainage grid. I would think this would account for the darker green pattern of the trees. Maybe more nutrients? Fresh water? Waste?
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 11:40 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I finally read all the way through the brochure and it appears that all of the areas I'm interested in are part of this preserve.

JKTB - I'm tempted to borrow a kayak and drive down to Gandy Blvd and see what I can see. Of course I fear seeing the gators.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2014

From the Evening Independent, 01/08/80:
In an effort to keep nearly 1,500 actress of the Ed C. Wright estate "relatively undeveloped and accessible to the general public", Ruth Kirby has offered to sell the land to a public agency for half its appraised value. ... The so-called Gateway property, stretching from Gandy Bridge to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport, is the last major Pinellas County land holding in the [Ed C.] Wright estate... To preserve the land, Miss Wright has proposed to make it available to any city, county, state and/or federal agency that will acquire it for public use.
The map in this article shows pretty clearly that this is the tract you're talking about. Ed C. Wright was, apparently, a major land speculator in the Tampa Bay area in the '50s and '60s; this article talks a little bit about his history.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:31 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

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