Gulfport, FL: Today And Throughout History
Gulfport, a city, located within Pinellas County, Florida, has been known as Disston City, Bonifacio, and Veteran City over the years. The name was officially changed to Gulfport in 1910. Gulfport, located in an area commonly referred to as “Old Florida,” is today a lovely waterfront community.
During the time when it was known as Disston City, the purchaser of the land on which the city sat envisioned a booming town of 50,000 people. However, the population was nowhere near that goal during the late 1800s. There were hopes that the completion of the Orange Belt Railroad would provide a way for people to come to Disston City. Unfortunately, the railway did not extend far enough, and thus, the waterway was the only route to the fledgling city. In 1892, the steamship that had been providing access to the city caught fire, and Disston City fell into decline.
Fortunately, the early 1900s brought the electric trolley, which provided convenient access to the town from St. Petersburg. Because of this access, it became known not only as a fishing area but also as a destination for tourists.
By 1904, there were plans to develop the area as a Civil War veterans’ retirement village. As a result of these new plans, the city became known as Veteran City. The retirement community never caught on, and the town incorporated as Gulfport FL in 1910. It was still small during this time, with the population only growing to approximately 300 people by 1923.
The 1920s became a period of active growth for Gulfport. By 1928, the population hovered at around 1,000. Brick roadways were constructed, as well as a hotel. Unfortunately, when the Great Depression began in 1929, the town again fell into decline. The “New Deal” program enacted at the end of the Depression breathed new life into Gulfport and brought improvements such as water service and drainage systems. Once again, the population of this waterfront town began to expand.
The 1990s were a period of growth and renewal for the city. Areas were revitalized, and the population grew. However, even with this increase, the city retains to this day its small-town charm. As part of the lovely “Old Florida” area, it boasts a mix of small businesses, shops, restaurants and quaint cottages. Today, Gulfport is becoming known for its arts district, as well as for its restaurants. It continues to be a popular area for fishing, and the city maintains Williams Pier as a public fishing area, as well as a full-service marina. The city’s two parks, the Casino Ballroom, and the beautiful tropical scenery make it an attractive area for visitors and artisans. From its humble beginnings and numerous setbacks, Gulfport has been transformed into quaint, pleasant city that is attractive to residents and visitors alike.