A couple of months back, dear readers, we gave you a little homework for the Urban Design class that we are all enrolled in by virtue of being citizens of this splendid burg. We called it Pier Pressure.
We asked you to veer into the visionary with us, to fiddle with the future, to imagine the imminent, to do whatever is necessary to solve the problem of the pyramid. To spur you on, we offered you our own delightfully twisted rendering from Times illustrator Don Morris. Manatee rides! A nudist beach! A rain forest and a Ferris wheel in the shape of a camera-toting tourist. We wanted to rev up your renovation reveries, and for the most part it worked.
Some of you didn't cotton to our wacky noodlings.
"What exactly is a virtual water splash, jump-a-roonie?" asked Michael O'Neill, a St. Petersburg native now residing in Cleveland.
"A great huckle buckle of expensive, short-term, downright dangerous ideas," sniped Virginia L. Rutledge of Pinellas Park. Let's be clear, the mission of the Floridian section has been and will continue to be: more huckle buckle.
And some of you seemed determined to avoid spending the $50 million set aside for this project. "Leave St. Pete's upside-down pyramid alone. We like it. It's St. Pete," William Dolgoff, of the South Pasadena Dolgoffs, wrote to us by hand (no computer, no typewriter, and no connection to the 21st century).
More than a few of our readers emphasized the need for a better bait shop, benches to sit down and more restrooms. Welcome to the Pier circa 1937.
But a few dozen of you showed yourselves to possess more than a dash of Walt Disney, even a mite of Robert Moses. Nancy Kramer, "in her humble opinion," had the "best submission": a partnership with Legoland to build a miniature version of the existing pier. (For whatever reason, this reminds us of the Stonehenge scene in This Is Spinal Tap.)
Towers were a popular theme. People like observing things, and the higher the better, it seems. Though James E. Studdiford, of St. Petersburg, cautioned that the nudist beach should be concealed from view. (We thought that was the whole point.)
John Hayner of Clearwater, where did you get the idea for an hourglass-shaped tower to anchor the pier? If the city fathers see fit to adopt your plan, rest assured that you won't have to share the credit.
More than one person (Nikki Gorby of St. Petersburg, among them) suggested a casino. Wow, a potential money-making operation. Now that would be revolutionary.
Restaurants (Larry Fernandez of St. Petersburg envisioned one underwater, surrounded by sharks) and good retail shops are a preoccupation of our readers. And everyone seems to have a favorite pier in some other city that we ought to rip off.
Onion domes appeared on more than one list. Russian connection. Got it.
A couple of people went with a standard trolley to run the length of the new pier. Gerry Brown, of Seminole, went one better. His ideal St. Petersburg has an elevated golf cart track — "a poor man's people mover," he calls it — that links distant corners of downtown to the pier.
Marilyn Baker proposed the ultimate cruise to nowhere with an ocean liner permanently docked at the end of the pier.
Performers were a priority — athletic, theatrical, musical, you name it. Plenty of people want an amphitheater, though only one person, Douglas Land of St. Petersburg, specified that it be built in the shape of a clamshell. In fact, Douglas envisions every structure — a conch-shaped boat house, turbinate light poles, a giant nautilus at the end of the pier — would be fashioned to mimic one shell or another.
But a special award of determination goes to Van Ivey, who submitted a proposal to retrofit the top-heavy pyramid with a more traditionally oriented pyramid. Van devised a marketing plan, logo (Save Our Pier — Recycle It) and website (www.transformthepier.com) that he submitted on a disc to very nearly every reporter and editor in the newsroom. Saturation works, Van, but cash is quicker.
To capture the beauty of your collective genius, Don Morris has mashed all your musings together into one new illustration.
Enjoy it. We did.