Tarpon Springs, Florida – WorldAtlas

Tarpon Springs is a city in Pinellas County, west-central Florida, United States of America. It is located on the bayous of the Anclote River between Lake Tarpon and the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 40 km northwest of Tampa.

The people of Tarpon Springs

In 2019, Tarpon Springs, Florida was home to more than 25,000 people with a median age of 52. The majority of the population of Tarpon Springs is white, and there were ten times as many white residents as any other ethnicity in 2019. The largest ethnic groups and races in Tarpon Springs are white. Non-Hispanic whites make up 78.6% of the population, followed by Hispanic Whites at 7.82%, Black or African American at 7.52%, Two or more races at 1.83, and Asians at 1.46%. All households in Tarpon Springs speak English as their primary language and 96.7% of residents are US citizens. In 2019, 12.1% of Tarpon Springs residents were born outside the country, and the most common place of birth for foreign-born residents in Florida was Cuba, followed by Haiti and Colombia. .

The economy of Tarpon Springs

Sunset at Tarpon Springs. Editorial credit: Jaime Montilla / Shutterstock.com

The median household income in Tarpon Springs is $ 50,012, which saw a 3.3% increase between 2018 and 2019. Although Florida has income inequality below the national average (0.43 measured by l Gini index), women have an average income that is 1.34 less than the average income of men. Tarpon Springs’ economy employs around 40% of the population in different industries, typically retailing, health care and social assistance, and professional, scientific and technical services. However, the highest paying industries in Tarpon Springs are utilities, transportation and warehousing, and information. A large industrial area has been built north of Anclote, and the shipping industry forms a backbone of Tarpon Springs.

History of Tarpon Springs

The rich and diverse environment of Tarpon Springs attracted the area’s first inhabitants 500 years ago. They settled on the shore near the mouth of the Anclote River and buried the dead in mounds of earth along with elaborate pottery and other goods. Among many mounds, the Safford Mound was discovered in the 1800s east of Pinellas Avenue, near the Anclote River. The mound contained over 600 skeletons as well as a wide variety of pottery depicting the way of life and culture of the people who lived there. Many of these artifacts from these prehistoric people can be seen in local museums in Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs in winter
Tarpon Springs on a foggy winter day.

AW Ormond from South Carolina and his teenage daughter Mary came to Tarpon Springs and became the first settlers to build a cabin near Spring Bayo in 1876. Only one Joshua Boyer left Nassau a year later to explore the world. Joshua eventually docked near the Ormond cabin and built a second cabin nearby. He married Mary, who proposed that their two-cabin settlement be named Tarpon Springs after a giant Tarpon who jumped and splashed in the bayou.

In 1881, Florida was on the verge of bankruptcy. Hamilton Disston, a wealthy Philadelphia maker, saved the state with one of the largest real estate deals ever. He bought four million acres of central Florida’s west coast from the governor for 25 cents an acre.

Disston surveyed the area that became Tarpon Springs and was responsible for planning the city’s development and convincing the railroad to come to the new community. The city’s true founder and prominent benefactor and citizen was Anson Safford. Safford was a Disston Business Investor and former Governor of the Arizona Territory and was Chairman of Disston’s property development company, Lake Butler Villa in Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs was a winter resort community and attracted wealthy northerners. Development in the region has focused mainly around Spring Bayou. Today, the Victorian-era residences that line the shores of the bayou remain vestiges of the Tarpon Springs development.

Tarpon Springs Sponge
Natural sea sponges in Tarpon Springs, Florida

In 1887, Tarpon Springs was incorporated with a population of 52. John Cheney, a promoter associated with Disston, discovered the potential money that could be generated by harvesting the sponges growing in Gulf waters. Tarpon Springs enjoyed success as a resort town, but the sponge industry quickly became the main industry in the community. The sponge industry was firmly established by 1890, and the Cheney Sponge Company sold nearly $ 1 million in sponges that year.

Later, experienced divers from Greece were brought to Tarpon Springs. The divers used rubberized wetsuits and helmets and were successful in increasing harvests. In 1905, a total of 500 Greek sponge divers were at work using 50 boats.

In the 1940s, the blight reduced sponge growth, and the 1950s almost wiped out the industry. However, new sponge beds were discovered in the 1980s, making Tarpon Springs the global market leader for natural sponges.

The Golden Crescent area was named because of the bayou’s crescent shape and the wealth of its early developers. The bayou is called Spring Bayou because the spring of fresh water flowing there was once known for its healing waters, becoming a prime spot for manatee viewing.

Tourist Attractions in Tarpon Springs

Sponge capital
The historic sponge docks at Tarpon Springs. Editorial credit: Joanne Dale / Shutterstock.com

Tarpon Springs is the “Natural Sponge Capital of the World”. It has a Greek influence on architecture and offers tens of kilometers of the state’s scenic waterfront. Fred Howard Park is a popular place for visitors. The park spans over 150 acres along the Gulf of Mexico and attracts over two million visitors each year. The park has a white sand beach offering opportunities for fishing, canoeing and other water activities. Visitors go there for picnics and observe wildlife, such as butterflies and sometimes manatees or dolphins.

Tourists also visit the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas. It is inspired by the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople and represents a fine example of the Neo-Byzantine architectural style. The cathedral was built in 1943 and replaced a small church built in 1907. The cathedral is also considered a center for Greek-American community life. It hosts the annual celebration of Epiphany, the largest event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.


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