We’ve been doing our best to maintain physical distancing, going places that require masks and spending more time outside.
Fortunately, in general, Saint Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area have many great places to explore. In the past, we’ve shared some of the incredible murals in our hometown, this blog heads to south St Pete and The Deuces.
Just outside of downtown St Petersburg you’ll find The Deuces – 22nd Street South. During the 1960s this was the busy Main Street of the black community.
With more than 100 businesses along the stretch of road, nearly 75 percent were black-owned. Today it’s making a resurgence and is marked by incredible murals and historic trail markets.
We spent a few days exploring the area and understanding the local history and cultural significance better.
Music and Murals
An icon of the south side of St Pete was the historic Manhattan Casino. The casino was the black community’s music and dancehall during segregation. Constructed in 1925 and opened as the Jordan Dance Hall, it allowed local black musicians to showcase the work that was not afforded them across town at the Saint Petersburg Coliseum.
Music legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Nat King Cole were just a few of the great who frequented this venue.
One of the best-known artists is Carlos “Zulu” Culbertson, whose murals are all over St Petersburg include Ella and Aretha.
History and Inspiration
All along 22nd street, there are murals that honor history and inspire the community.
Another Zulu mural wraps the corner of this church’s building. The artwork is reflecting black life in the past and inspiration for the future.
Black Live Matter
Earlier this year, on Juneteenth, local artists created a fantastic Black Lives Matter mural on the street in front of the Dr. Carter G Woodson African American Museum.
Sixteen artists each used one letter as their canvass, be sure to check out their Instagram pages.
B – Jujmo @jujmo
L – John Gascot @jgascot
A – Cam Parker @painkillercamisyourdaddy
C – Catherine Weaver @uniquelyoriginalarts
K – Nuclear Sky @nuclearskyart
L – Jason Harvin @waywardwalls
I – Laura Spencer @lauraspencerillustrates
V – James Hartzell @artbyjamese
E – Eric Hornsby @artist_esh
S – Jade Jackson @avacatoto
M – James Kitchens @freestyletattooz
A – David Cabassa @megasupremo
T – JaVon Walters @von.walters
T – Plum Howlett @pvo_tattooshop
E – Melanie Posner @therealmelpoz
R – Daniel Barojas @r5imaging
Mark has been friends with artists John Gascot since their (much younger) days back in suburban Philadelphia and is so thrilled to see his success. We LOVE the work of our local St Petersburg artists and what their work adds to our community.
6th Avenue South
Further down into the southside of St Petersburg is an area along the old railroad tracks, now occupied by the Pinellas Trail.
The blocks along 6th Avenue South around 27th and 28th street is filled with sign shops, Cross Fit Studios, Galleries, and warehouses, and the walls of the buildings are filled with incredible art.
Next time you are near St Pete, be sure to venture a little of the beaten path and check out the southside’s art and history.