If you’re not familiar with Harbour Island’s fascinating history, take a look at these fun facts and learn something new about your neighborhood.
Harbour Island Is Man-Made
That’s right. This area did not exist until 1906. There were two smaller delta islands called Big and Little Grassy Islands, which were empty of human inhabitants. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came along at the turn of the century and created a shipping channel to downtown Tampa, by cutting through the smaller of the two islands. They took the sand that was dredged up by this process and dumped it on another side of the island, creating an even bigger island that became what we now know as Harbour Island.
It Used to Have a Different Name
One of the main engineers in the project was a man named W.L. Seddon. As such, the island was initially named after him. Seddon Island eventually was abandoned and sat as an empty eyesore in the 1970s until the Beneficial Corporation bought it for $3 million, with a plan to fill it with condos, apartments, homes, restaurants, and shops. In order to make the transformation complete, they gave it a new name: Harbour Island.
Harbour Island Was Once an Industrial Area
From 1909 until the 1950s, Seddon Island was a major port for phosphate shipments. It was filled with wharves, docks, warehouses, and phosphate elevators during this time and created a busy scene in the downtown waterfront area. Over time, however, the area was abandoned, leaving nothing behind but the remnants of the phosphate industry in the form of abandoned wharves and warehouses. It is said that feral pigs even ran loose in the area.
Initial Improvements to the Island Were Ahead of Their Time
In the 1950s, the industrial waterfront began a cleanup phase under the stewardship of Mayor Curtis Hixon. It took until the late ’60s for Seddon Island to see any progress. Once the island was bought by the Beneficial Corporation and given its new name and purpose, some of the improvements were ahead of their time – so much so, that many failed to take hold, like the People Mover shuttle. Ultimately, it was the creation of the residential areas that finally saw Harbour Island thrive.
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