Tampa Bay History: The People Behind The Bridges and Highways
If you live in Tampa Bay, there are certain names you hear all the time, names like Campbell and Frankland and Mabry. You know the roads associated with these names — maybe you’ve even cursed these names while stuck in horrible rush-hour traffic! But do you know anything about the real people behind the names of these Tampa Bay bridges and highways?
The Courtney Campbell Causeway crosses Old Tampa Bay, and allows drivers to continue on State Road 60 from Clearwater in Pinellas County to Tampa in Hillsborough County. The causeway spans 9.9 miles, but the drive often goes quickly, probably because of the great scenic view. If you’re a passenger in a car as it crosses the causeway, glance out the window. You might see a dolphin or two — at the very least, you’ll see plenty of sparkling water.
Originally called the Davis Causeway, the causeway was renamed in 1948 after Courtney W. Campbell. Campbell, a resident of Clearwater Beach, was a member of the Florida House of Representatives and a former assistant attorney general for Florida. He was also a member of the Florida State Road Board. For his work to improve and beautify roads in the Tampa Bay area, the causeway was renamed after him.
As for Ben T. Davis, a local businessman who the causeway was originally named after . . . he still has a beach named after him right off to the side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway!
William Howard Frankland
If you thought the bridge was called “The Howard Franklin,” you’re not the only one! But it is in fact Frankland, and named after William Howard Frankland, a Tampa businessman. Frankland lived from 1901 to 1980, and was the founder of a tire company and a rubber company, as well as had a career in banking. Most famously, Frankland realized that Tampa Bay was in needed of another bridge across Old Tampa Bay, believing the area between Gandy Bridge and the Courtney Campbell Causeway was perfect for development. He was successful in proposing a new bridge, and so the bridge, which connects St. Petersburg to Tampa, was named after him. The Howard Frankland Bridge carries over to Interstate 275, and is one of the more well-traveled Tampa Bay bridges.
The Gandy Bridge is the last of the three major Tampa Bay bridges that go across Old Tampa Bay. Like the Howard Frankland, it connects St. Petersburg to Tampa. It is named after George Shepard Gandy, a business executive and developer. Originally successful in his business efforts in Philadelphia, Gandy eventually moved to St. Petersburg, where he built a downtown plaza and office buildings. In 1910, he made the proposal for a bridge across Old Tampa Bay, and the bridge was completed in 1924.
Since then, the Gandy Bridge has seen some hardships. The first iteration of the bridge was demolished in 1975, while a second bridge, which was been built in 1956 and was later referred to as The Friendship Trail, was demolished in 2016. Two other spans of the bridge, built in 1975 and 1997, are still standing and available for vehicle traffic. Throughout its history, the bridge has also been struck by five barges and boats.
Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, which begins near MacDill Air Force Base and ends at US 41 in Pasco, is an important highway in Tampa Bay. Stretching 22 miles, the highway takes drivers to places like Tampa International Airport, George M. Steinbrenner Field, and Raymond James Stadium.
The highway was originally constructed to connect MacDill Air Force Base to another base, which was located by where Tampa International Airport is now. The highway is named after Dale Mabry, a World War I pilot and the son of a Florida Supreme Court Justice. After his service in WWI, Mabry became a captain for the United States Air Force, and died during a test of an airship in 1922.
Tampa Bay has a vast and unique history, and these roads and bridges are just a small bit of it! Do you have a favorite figure in Tampa Bay history?
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