Gandy’s Dandy Dream: Something to be Thankful For

East end of Gandy’s bridge under construction with the concrete casting plant to the right. More than 1,500 laborers were utilized to complete the $2-million span across the Bay. Circa September 1923
<strong><em>East end of Gandys bridge under construction with the concrete casting plant to the right More than 1500 laborers were utilized to complete the $2 million span across the Bay Circa September 1923<em><strong><br><br>Known by many as Dad the bespectacled George S Gandy was a stern looking fellow with a no nonsense reputation Hed been instrumental in the building of several profitable trolley lines in and around Philadelphia before moving to Florida in 1902 at the request of FA Davis to serve as president of the St Petersburg Gulf Electric Railway Company<br><br><br>Ultimately Gandys transportation experience was the basis for his most memorable achievement He viewed with disgust the 52 mile long route that connected St Petersburg to Tampa If Tampa Bay could be spanned he reasoned the cities could be made almost next door neighbors and both would profit But even an optimist like Gandy realized that 1903 was not the time for the construction of a bridge The Tampa Bay region simply had not developed enough to make it a profitable proposition He resolved however that unless someone got ahead of him Ill build it myself<br><br><br>With help from Eugene M Elliott a smooth talking pitchman Gandy raised nearly $2 million worth of preferred Gandy stock in less than four months an impressive $32 million in todays money Dad never invested a dime of his own money By 1915 Gandy had plotted what he believed to be the best route and had obtained the needed rights of way from Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties<br><br><br>By 1917 others had caught on to Gandys idea of bridging the Bay In fact the Tampa Atlantic Gulf Railroad Company filed plans to build their bridge But the competition didnt deter Gandy He rallied civic support and petitioned the War Departments Board of Engineers for approval of his plan above all others<br><br><br>The grant was made on February 11 1918 about ten months after the United States entered World War I It became nearly impossible to secure construction materials Gandys engineers took advantage of the delay by making new surveys and selected a natural rock shelf that allowed a deeper 23 foot channel across the middle of the bay But the high price of construction materials following the war added to the delay Gandys plan called for trolley tracks down the very center but steel rails were never laid and no trolley ever crossed the span<br><br><br>On May 15 1923 twenty years after his plan was conceived and seven years after the first surveys were made whistles screeched men cheered and guns were fired into the air as the first batch of concrete was poured at the pile casting plant Nearly 2400 reinforced concrete piles some as long as 60 feet would eventually be poured cured and then steam hammered into the bay floor During the final year of construction the project would put more than 1500 men to work<br><br><br>The formal 1924 opening was on Thanksgiving Day With a guest list that included the governors of 17 states a 73 year old George Gandy watched as the first of nearly 10000 cars drove across his dream highway Before he completed the span travel from St Petersburg to Bradenton to the south required a ninety mile adventure Gandys bridge connected Tampa to the Pinellas peninsula and eliminated nearly half of the St Petersburg to Bradenton journey having an immediate effect on Tampa Bay area residents and visitors alike<br><img decoding=async loading=lazy width=5 height=1 alt= src=httpsimgsslconstantcontactcomlettersimages1101116784221Sgif><br><br><br><strong>Become a Member <strong><br><img decoding=async width=291 alt= class= src=httpsfilesconstantcontactcom1227a892601eaee2d09 50ef 45a7 9f13 95205216d9adjpg><br><br><strong>Members get more<strong> Join the museum and receive free admission to the archives free admission to Happy Hour with the Historian and discounted tickets to museum events <br><br><br>As a 501c3 non profit organization we rely on our loyal membership and donations from supporters 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