In the early 1900s St. Petersburg’s growing reputation as a healthy city with a salubrious climate was drawing new residents in droves. As William Straub worked to dedicate the downtown waterfront as public parkland, his efforts were frequently thwarted by the local businessman F.A. Davis, who had recently built the city’s first power plant. Determined to move St. Petersburg into the age of electricity, he opened an “Electric Pier” in 1905 at the site of the newly demolished Brantley Pier at Second Avenue North. Residents were delighted with the electric trolley that carried them to the end of the illuminated pier, and the ability to quickly move freight via the trolley line provided serious competition for the railroad pier.
Delighted by the popularity of his new pier, Davis bought a 500-passenger steamer to make frequent runs to Tampa. Watching its arrival at the Electric Pier became a favorite activity for residents and tourists alike. Eventually, however, the attentions of F.A. Davis were drawn to the more lucrative field of real-estate development and his grand aspirations to turn St. Petersburg into a bustling port fell by the wayside. Straub breathed a sigh of relief, and clinched his dream of dedicating the downtown waterfront as public parkland forever.