Davis Islands Tampa Florida - Early History
Davis Islands almost never came into
By Jeanne Wolfe
In spite of the feverish land boom of the
early 1920’s, wealthy homeowners on Bayshore Boulevard
fought the Tampa Real Estate subdivision of Davis Islands plan for development.
Tampa native D.P. Davis was a developer who has prospered in the Miami
boom. His vision was to
convert the mudflats and three small islands near the mouth of the
Hillsborough into an idyllic island community, Davis Island.
He was able to purchase the property for $350,000.
The Bayshore Boulevard neighbors, however, sought to squelch
Davis’ plan by claiming that the city could not legally sell the
The lawsuit eventually went all the way to
the Florida Supreme Court on appeal.
The victory for Davis set into motion his ambitious plans: 834
acres, 11 ˝ miles of water frontage with seawalls and 27 miles of
winding streets. The
streets are named for bodies of water in somewhat alphabetical order
starting at the North end of the island.
Davis planned a resort community with three luxury hotels
proposed, also included were a nine-hole golf course, airport and public
D.P. Davis was proud of his deeding a
50-acre park to the city. In
honor of Davis’s late wife, the spacious park was named Marjorie Park.
In order to build his islands, Davis hired
the 4 largest dredges available. The
dredges soon ran 24 hours a day in order to complete the ambitious
project. Davis needed to
dredge 89 million cubic feet of sand from the bay.
When the Davis Island home lots went on sale, prospective
buyers waited in long lines and the streets near the sales office were
jammed with congested traffic. When
the doors opened pandemonium ensued.
Within the first 3 hours, all of the initial lots offered (306)
were sold. The Tampa
Tribune said that Mr. Davis “was literally showered with checks.”
The $1,683,582 in sales was a world’s record for the sale of Real
Estate lots in a
D.P. Davis was an inspired
promoter and his exciting ads stimulated sales even more. Mediterranean Revival architecture was encouraged in order to
enhance the ambiance of this Venetian paradise.
In October of 1926, D.P. Davis was making a
transatlantic voyage in order to explore the possibility of a
development along the French Riviera.
Davis fell overboard and was lost at sea.
Davis Islands development slowed down and
relatively few homes were built in the 1930’s. Eventually, buyers of
lots were able to build in whatever architectural style they preferred.
Thus the eclectic mix of architectural styles that predominate
today. The golf course and
skating coliseum are now gone. Peter
O. Knight added more fill to the islands in order to accommodate an
airport on the south end. This increased the size of Davis Islands to
the existing 875 acres.
Davis Islands is the ideal model for an
urban community with its own individual style.
Driving across the Davis Islands Bridge watching the sunlight
sparkle on the water, makes it clear – this community is a jewel.
Islands Yacht Club Bayshore
Little League Davis
Islands Real Estate
Islands Historic Photos