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Gulfport is located on the Pinellas Peninsula, not far from its namesake of the Gulf of Mexico. Despite its name, Gulfport actually sits along Boca Ciega Bay, which is protected by a string of barrier islands that are home to several small coastal towns.
Gulfport is among the largest of these beach communities, but it's still much smaller than the neighboring cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa. Residents enjoy living in Gulfport because the bedroom community has a small-town feel with big-city amenities just a few miles away.
The history of Gulfport dates to 1867, when James Barnett settled his family in the region. Several years later, developer Hamilton Disston built a hotel along Boca Ciega Bay in hopes of drawing a railway station to the burgeoning town he called Disston City. After the railroad bypassed Disston City for St. Petersburg, Disston sold his land to Capt. John Chase, a Civil War veteran who envisioned a beachside community where his fellow veterans could retire.
From 1890 into the next century, Disston City was known as Veteran City. The veterans soon were joined by families and others who enjoyed its scenic beachside location. In 1910, the city incorporated and changed its name once again, to the modern-day moniker of Gulfport.
Today Gulfport is best known for its popular beach and for the historic Gulfport Casino, where you're more likely to find black ties and ballroom dancers than blackjack and dancing girls. (Despite its name, the casino isn't a gaming hall -- it's actually a meeting place that adheres to the dictionary definition of "a building or room used for social amusements.")
Gulfport is located at the tip of Boca Ciega Bay, which offers many water-related activities. The Gulf of Mexico is also nearby with its soft waves and white sand beaches.
At the Beach Waterfront Complex, you can play basketball, bocce ball or horseshoes; or just take a stroll along the 6.8-acre beach. Facilities located in or near the complex include the Gulfport Recreation Center, the Gulfport Casino, the Walter & Bert Williams Fishing Pier, and Veterans Memorial Park.
There are several other parks in Gulfport, including a new state-of-the-art skate park. Chase Park is home to the Gulfport Shuffleboard Club and provides meeting space for Boy and Girl Scouts at Scout Hall. Hoyt Field offers facilities for baseball and boomerang players as well as the Gulfport Little League, and the Boca Ciega High School baseball and softball teams.
Clam Bayou Nature Park is a 10-acre preserve that's home to a variety of native species, including fiddler crabs, clams, wading birds, dolphins and manatees. The park provides several environments, from marsh and mangrove forests to the deep waters of Boca Ciega Bay.
The new Catherine A. Hickman Theate is home to the Gulfport Community Players. The 173-seat facility also features concerts, recitals, film festivals and seminars.
Annual events include the Gulfport Beach Sandcastle Contest, SpringFest, the ArtVillage Gallery Walk, and the End of Summer Celebration & Gecko Fest.
Gulfport is also close to Tampa and St. Petersburg, which offer shopping, fine dining, amusement parks, museums and professional sporting events. Gulfport is also growing a reputation as a city involved in the arts, from there twice a month city wide Art Walks to the Gulf Coast Museum of Art.
Location: Gulfport is located on the Central West Florida coast, about three miles from St. Petersburg
*Total area: 3.84 square miles (2.83 square miles land area; 1.01 square miles water area)
*Housing units: 7,306
Average annual rainfall: 49.58 inches
Average temperatures: 83F in summer, 62F in winter
*Information provided by 2000 Census
There are two public schools in Gulfport: Boca Ciega High School and Hamilton Disston School, which offers special education for grades pre-K through 12. Other students attend classes in neighboring communities. Gulfport is home to one of Floridas most respected law schools, Stetson University College of Law.
There are a variety of waterfront homes and condos available in Gulfport. Homes are available for year-round occupancy or vacation rental. Waterfront homes and condos are priced competitively due to the over abundance of properties currently for sale. With an unemployment rate of only 6%, Gulfport offers wonderful homes, condos, and commercial properties at a buyers market price.