Chris Ross and I had been volunteers with the Friends of Plant Park for several years, working on various projects, when we were asked to develop a long term master plan for the preservation of Plant Park. This master plan has led to several park improvements that have been competed in accordance with the plan.
The historic research, which we did to understand the original scope and plan for the park, was very interesting was aided by the photo record made since it was finished in 1892. Plant Park, a public park in the City of Tampa began as the pleasure grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel. This hotel was built as the terminus hotel for the Plant System Railroad. As the first electrified building in Tampa (requiring its own coal fired generator) it has reigned as the premier social gathering place and landmark since it opened. It is now part of the grounds of the University of Tampa.
The hotel was the defining project in Tampa and created a center which crossed the Hillsborough River from the Central Business Corridor on Franklin Boulevard. The Hotel building has seen three different bridges over the years on what was then Lafayette Boulevard, now Kennedy Boulevard.
The hotel grounds contained two important buildings, now gone. In this photo is seen the Casino building which performed as host to most of the important social event all the way through World War 2 where service men training at near by air bases. This photos shows the electric generator building smoke stack in the background and the flag pole, which was a restoration project of the FoPP.