North St. Petersburg and the Tamiami Air Line (almost) America's First Regularly Scheduled Passenger Service
Promotional broadsheet and detailed map of North St. Petersburg, promoting North St. Petersburg as the place to invest.
Published by J.A. Townsend, the Exclusive Agent, the broadsheet loudly promotes North St. Petersburg as an focuses on an investment where profitrs are assured, but also includes two primary newsworthy stories, the impending completion of the Gandy Bridge and the Tamiami Air Line.
The Gandy Bridge has long been an iconic part of Florida's transportation infrastructure, providing an essential connection between Tampa and St. Petersburg. The inception of the Gandy Bridge dates back to the early 20th century. The idea was conceived by George S. "Dad" Gandy, a visionary entrepreneur who recognized the need for a more efficient transport route between the burgeoning cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg. Prior to its construction, the journey between these cities was a long and tedious one, often requiring hours of travel by ferry or around the bay.
The construction of the Gandy Bridge began in 1922, a significant undertaking in its time. It required years of labor and an investment of $3 million (equivalent to over $40 million today, adjusted for inflation). Built by the Gandy Company, the bridge was finally completed and officially opened to the public on November 20, 1924.
Tamiami Air Line and St. Petersburg's Early Aviation History
St. Petersburg played an important role in the early history of commercial aviation. The first commercial airline was started in 1914, flying from St. Petersburg to Tampa.
A decade later, prior to the first regularly scheduled commercial passager service was established by Western Air Express, local promoters attempted to creat the Tamiami Air Line. Designed to connect Tampa and Miami, the airline was promoted in newspapers in 1923 and the following note appeared in the February 18, 1924 edition of Aviation, at p. 180.
New Florida Air Route
Inauguration this month of regular airplane passenger and express service between Tampa and Sarasota, via St. Petersburg, and early extension of operations to Miami is announced by officials of the Tamiami Air Line Co.
Representatives of the company have been in Tampa for several months preparing for the operation of the line, and during the last thirty days or more a large force of mechanicians has been busy assembling the planes and making ready for the start of the service. E. H. Threadgill, general manager, is at Sarasota to complete arrangements there for the landing field.
The company now has three planes ready for service, all of which have already been flown-one at Tampa, which made a flight to Frostproof; one at St. Petersburg, which made a flight to Sarasota, and one at Miami.
The work of the Tamiami Air Line has a 40-acre landing field at St. Petersburg, a 50-acre landing field almost completed in Tampa, a contract for 50 acres at Okeechobee, and is now negotiating for a 45-acre landing field at Miami. It expects to expand eventually to operate a daily schedule to Orlando, Daytona and Jacksonville, but starting in ten days its daily schedule will only be as far as Sarasota, and will continue so until the emergency landing fields between that city and Miami have all been made ready.
The service contemplates taking a business man from Tampa or St. Petersburg to Miami, giving him time to transact his business and get him back home in time for dinner. The single way rate will be $50, but the company hopes to be able when once it is commercially established to cut this price considerably.
The estimated cost of operating a daily schedule between St. Petersburg, Tampa, Okeechobee and Miami, figuring the depreciation, upkeep, maintenance of shops, etc., is approximately $190 a day. The financing of the company has been almost entirely by Tampa and St. Petersburg men who are anxious to see a short time service from coast to coast.
Howver, it seems that on February 8,, 1924, plans for the Tamiami Air Line faltered, with the death of one of its pilots in Lakeland, Florida as a result of a cranking injury, the airline apparently met its demise.
On May 23, 1926, Western Air Express inaugurated the “first scheduled airline passenger service” in the United States flying the nation’s first commercial airline passenger from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. Although a few early airboat ventures provided regularly scheduled service along coastal locations prior to 1926, this first flight by Western Air Express would give birth to the first year-round airline transportation service using landplanes and land-based runways. This “fixed route” overland passenger service marked the beginning of passenger air travel in the U.S. as we know it today. It would also serve as the inception of what would go on to be referred to as the “first profitable airline in the world” and the only successful survivor of the nation’s early commercial air transportation ventures.
The broadsheet is unrecorded. This is also one of the very few surviving mentions the Tamiami Air Line, other than newspapers.