Sunday, May 11, 2008

Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands

One fine evening a week or so ago, I found myself on Davis Islands. So I drove down to the southern tip of the island, where it isn't so much that it's picturesque, as there's always something to see there.

Davis Islands (most people say Davis Island, but it is actually more than one piece of land completely surrounded by water. It's not a big deal whichever version you use.) is a Tampa neighborhood out in Hillsborough Bay. This place started out as a couple of grassy, muddy islands, cleverly named Big and Little Grassy Islands. Then in the 1920s David P. Davis turned these into a Florida Boom Time development, with elaborate Mediterranean Revival buildings and houses. Unfortunately for Davis, the Florida Boom ended, and he found himself in deep, dark financial waters. Soon, he sadly ended up in actual waters, disappearing from a luxury yacht during a Trans-Atlantic voyage.

(History and old photographs of Davis Islands are available on the Davis Islands Civic Association website.)

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration built an airport at the southern end of Davis Islands. The airport was named after Peter O. Knight, a prominent Tampa lawyer, who was also very involved with local businesses, most notably the Tampa Electric Company. It was through the electric company that Knight convinced Stone & Webster to invest in Davis Islands when David P. Davis was struggling in the 1920s. The airport included a seaplane basin. After World War II, Drew Field (which had been an Army Air Force training base during the war) became Tampa's new international airport. Peter O. Knight Airport's runways were too short for the newer, larger passenger planes, so it was used by private planes and helicopters.

The airport's original administration building was torn down in the 1960s, and replaced by the current building. Although seaplanes aren't quite as popular anymore, the basin is still there at Davis Islands, only now it's a marina and home to the Davis Island Yacht Club. It's also the location of an extremely popular dog park, which includes a beach for dogs to splash in the bay as cruise ships and tankers glide by on the Port of Tampa's shipping channel.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.