Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Safety Dance

Safety Harbor, a small Florida town located on the west side of Tampa Bay, has a familiar history. its location was originally home to indigenous people known as the Tocobaga Indians. The first European to set foot there was said to be Panifilo de Narvaez in 1528, followed shortly thereafter by De Soto in 1539. The first European to settle there was Frenchman Odette Philippe, who was also the first person to grow grapefruit in the Sunshine State and may have been responsible for launching Tampa's cigar-making industry as well.

My history with the sleepy little city near Clearwater began in 1999 when I attended a party to celebrate the end of the millennium at a fantastic house owned by local artists. When I returned almost ten years later, I discovered very little had changed (rare by Florida standards.) Although there is a new large commercial project at the end of Main Street by the spa, the town retains its old Florida charm and has a funky energy that really appeals to me. Main Street is lined with mom and pop restaurants and interesting shops, surrounded by modest houses on oak draped streets. My wife and I have friends who own a home there and are making the transition from a life in Orlando to living in Safety Harbor full time. After my latest visit, I can fully understand why.

Yard of the "Whimzy" or ""Bowling Ball" house, decked out for the year 2000

Original log cabin

Detail of Post Office mural

Philippe Park
Historical images from the State Archives of Florida


  1. Thank you--didn't know there were any places like this left in Florida...

  2. nice photos and story, me and deb go to the small museum there in safety harbor to view highwaymen paintings up close when they are exhibited there!