Friday, May 17, 2013

The Pier: Not Stopping the Lens!

All over St. Petersburg people have planted signs in their yard that say "Stop the Lens!" Periodically over the last few months outside of various shopping establishments there has been people asking if I was registered to vote in Pinellas County so I would sign the petition to "Stop the Lens!" For a significant chunk of time, Eliot and I didn't even know what the Lens was and would make a menacing voice when we saw the signs. We looked it up and decided we didn't really care about the Lens and continued with the funny voices mocking the signs propped up all over town.

The Pier is not a historical monument. It wasn't built as a memorial. It was the best idea on the table and opened in 1973. 40 years does not make a reason to keep a structure that is actually sinking for all intents and purposes. The patch of land that holds the pier has held a pier of some kind for a long time, 1889 was the first to be erected. To be honest, I wish the new plan was more reminiscent of that structure than the space aged looking thing that is on deck, but I don't really care that much.

There are some things that define a city that are iconic like the Arch of St. Louis, the Empire State Building in New York, Washington monument in DC, but the pier isn't our thing. For most of my life which began, 1976, only a few short years after this building was built, downtown St. Pete was a high crime, high homeless area of town. That wasn't always the case. My grandmother worked 30 years at Maas Brothers, a beautiful 3 story with a basement elite department store, but the store died with the death of the downtown. So the pier that is there now, has gone through hundreds of vendors and several dozen restaurants. It has an over priced tiny aquarium. Therefore, it isn't our thing. St. Pete has a charm and majesty to it that isn't represented by foe boat building that hasn't really meant much to most people, evidenced by the lack of frequent visits the residents have made there.

I am excited for the opportunities that the new structure will bring. My hope is that it will reflect the growth and prosperity of our current downtown. I hope that it enriches the life rather than posses some small iota of nostalgia. And though I am hopefully for the new, I did want to take a second to appreciate a piece of hometown that has been there since my childhood. I remember that in high school my boyfriend took me there on a date. He was being sweet and a was a little nervous so he accidentally locked his keys in the car while it was still on. It still makes me smile. He wasn't too happy about it. I remember Alessi bakery being there and going with my parents to get ice cream and walk around looking across the Bay.

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