The Roaring Twenties, the Florida Land and Tourism Booms, the Jazz Age, Prohibition, Organized Crime, Speakeasies, Two World Wars, the Advent of Radio and Moving Pictures, the Rising Popularity of Baseball and Golf, the Dawn of Aviation and the Emergence of Celebrity Culture ‒ These Influences Converge in The Jungle.

The tableau depicts important people and events in Jungle history ‒ the indigenous Tocobaga, the Narváez expedition, pioneer John Levique, visionary Walter P. Fuller, the trolley line extension to The Jungle, golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast, golfer Babe Ruth, the Jungle Country Club Hotel and the Jungle Prada complex, Addison Mizner's Casa Coe da Sol, the 1943 U.S. Army encampment in the Jungle, and the two graduates of Admiral Farragut Academy who have walked on the moon.
The Jungle Country Club
St. Petersburg, Florida, 1916-1944
The Jungle Country Club Hotel
The Jungle Country Club was a historic golf course and hotel located in the Jungle section of St. Petersburg, Florida. The golf course opened in 1916 and is notable for being Babe Ruth's favorite winter course ‒ he played well over 100 rounds here. Ruth was one of the most popular golfers of the Roaring Twenties. He made the Jungle golf course famous by coming here every winter. Anyone who read a newspaper or went to the movies was familiar with the Jungle Country Club. The golf course property and hotel are in the Azalea neighborhood. The hotel is listed on the St. Petersburg Register of Historic Places and is now Admiral Farragut Academy.

Young Steve of the Jungle by DALL-E
When I began exploring the history of The Jungle, I found a sketchy collection of urban legends that centered around a golf course, an airport, a speakeasy, Babe Ruth, Al Capone and Walter Fuller. I heard rumors that often turned out to be false. West St. Pete has received little attention from historians – it seems our past is but a quirky footnote to the downtown St. Pete story. Locals might be surprised to find that the west side has an exciting history dating back centuries.
It has become my mission to raise awareness of our rich heritage. Did Spanish conquistadors make landfall in downtown St. Pete? No, that was at Jungle Prada. Any astronauts or moon walkers go to school downtown, in Kenwood or Old Northeast? No, you're thinking of Admiral Farragut Academy. Famed musician Stephen Stills first played guitar at that same school. Where were St. Petersburg’s first airport and first radio station? The Jungle. Not to mention the many pictures and newsreels seen across the country that showed Babe Ruth golfing here in The Jungle. In the Roaring Twenties, the Jungle Country Club was nationally recognized as a popular winter resort frequented by the rich and famous.
There are some compelling stories and interesting characters in The Jungle and its environs, but a complete and accurate account has yet to be written. I'm working on that. This blog highlights the people and places of The Jungle that contributed to St. Pete's development.

You are a terrific historian -- a sense of humor, too, which is a rarity -- and I've much enjoyed reading your posts.
New York Times best-selling author Randy Wayne White

Steve of the Jungle with Randy Wayne White
Steve of The Jungle (left) with Randy Wayne White December 6th at Doc Ford's soft opening.

Click here for my article about the opening.

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Just wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying reading your blog posts! I … have discovered a number of things about St. Pete history that I never knew! I've been conducting tours of St. Pete for almost 20 years…
Just wanted to let you know you have a fan!
local historian Monica Kile

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I am deeply indebted to you for that great article about The Jungle and my father’s [Walter P. Fuller] and grandfather’s [H. Walter Fuller] roles in its development. You write exceptionally well, and you included some pictures that I have never seen. I have shared your article with the rest of my family.
With highest regard,
Robert C. Fuller, PhD, Professor Emeritus
Physics Department, University of North Georgia

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Thank you for your diligent research and devotion to our neighborhoods!!
Robert Blackmon
Former City Council Member and Mayoral Candidate

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The Visionaries of West St. Pete
H. Walter Fuller, Walter P. Fuller and Jack Taylor
H. Walter Fuller, Walter P. Fuller and "Handsome Jack" Taylor
In 1907 H. Walter Fuller moved to St. Petersburg and took a job with entrepreneur F.A. Davis. Fuller soon became a major shareholder in Davis’ empire which included the St. Petersburg Transportation Company (the trolley line), a steamship line, and the municipal electric company. Fuller began buying land near Boca Ciega Bay in an area he called “The Jungle.” As manager of Davis' trolley line, he was influential in extending the streetcar tracks to his real estate holdings in The Jungle. Due to an economic downturn in 1917, Fuller's businesses and assets were placed in receivership. He and his son Walter P. partnered with a Philadelphia investor to re-acquire the properties, but by 1922 the partners were facing tax lien foreclosure on some of their west side real estate. Along came New York investor Jack Taylor, who bought a large portion of their land holdings south of The Jungle. The infusion of capital, coupled with heightened optimism for Florida's land boom, led to the construction of the Jungle Prado building, the Jungle Hotel and Fuller Flying Field (St. Petersburg's first airport). But there is much more to the story.

1922 (colorized): Handsome Jack Taylor (in the shadows, far right) and his wife Evelyn DuPont Taylor at the first Pasadena-on-the-Gulf sales office, a private railroad car located where the SAL railroad tracks (now the Pinellas Trail) cross Central Avenue.

1926 colorized photo at Park Street and Elbow Lane, facing south.
Jungle Manor rooming house is on the left.

Jungle Country Club Creek Day
Sign Dedication Ceremony, August 13th
For full coverage click here.

THIS JUST IN... 1934 Scorecard

The foursome includes Babe Ruth and Jungle golf pro John Buchanan

⭐ View Full Story: Babe Ruth's Scorecard from the Jungle Course

Online Flipbook: Jungle History and the Creek on Farragut Drive

The Colorful Adventures of Babe Ruth
Colorized images of Babe Ruth in St. Pete

⭐ View Post: The Colorful Adventures of Babe Ruth

Keystone Stereograph - Library of Congress

Jungle Hotel Courtyard circa 1940

All the charms and delights of Florida
"In the rambling Spanish building with its flower filled patio, through the tropical gardens, on the 18-hole golf course, on the tennis courts, along the bridle paths, on the nearby Gulf beaches and on the adjoining waters of Boca Ciega Bay are gathered all the charms and delights of Florida." 

‒ 1928 Jungle Hotel advertisement.

Babe Ruth's Time Honored Tradition - the Birthday Party and Contract Signing
"The next time-honored step in the Ruth ritual was the trip to Florida and his birthday party. His friends set up a huge square table in the patio of the Jungle Club Hotel, arranged to resemble a baseball diamond with flowers for baselines and bases. A mammoth birthday cake, in the shape of a baseball, occupied the center. Twenty-eight guests sat around the table, with the Ruths in the place of honor at "home plate." [Yankee owner Jacob] Ruppert came down a few days later and, following a long tradition, sat with the Babe at a table on the sunny lawn of the Jungle Club with dozens of reporters and photographers gathered round for the contract signing." 

‒  Kal Wagenheim, Babe Ruth: His Life and Legend

1931: Babe Ruth with wife Claire in front of the Jungle Hotel

1925 at the Jungle Country Club: Babe Ruth, club president Al Lang and Yankee manager Miller Huggins. Ruth and Lang are sitting on a "green roller," a heavy cylinder filled with water and rolled across a green to level the surface. In the background: a storage shed for maintenance equipment and seed.

Jungle Country Club Scorecard (recreated from aerial images and 1915 golf course map)

(click on image to enlarge)

⭐ View Post: Jungle Golf Course Superimposed on Current Street Map

A Jungle Country Club trophy won by Babe Ruth is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown ‒ and the trophy is sponsored by this blog, The Jungle Country Club History Project

⭐ View Post: Jungle Country Club Trophy is Enshrined in Baseball Hall of Fame

Completing St. Petersburg's Vigorous Growth

"St. Petersburg has needed a golf course more than any one thing to complete its wonderful vigorous growth."

‒ A.W. Tillinghast, Jungle Country Club course architect, 1915

A professional golfer who grew up in The Jungle and played on the Pasadena course had this to say about Tillinghast:
"While I knew there had been a golf course located behind the Farragut Academy, I had NO idea it was a Tillinghast golf course! That was a stunning revelation for me. If you are a golfer you know that Tilly is one of the most revered course architects of all time. It's sad that economic conditions led to its [the Jungle golf course's] demise. Had it survived it would most certainly have been the premier country club in the city."

One of St. Petersburg's Best Assets

-- January 16, 1916

Finest Course South of Baltimore

-- June 27, 1915

Attracting Golfers from All Over the United States

-- March 28, 1915

The Celebrated Jungle Club
"[Sammy] Byrd had first tasted fame as a member of the Yankees...Byrd was an adequate hitter but a marvelous golfer, as his teammates discovered in 1929 at his first spring training. It was there that Byrd mustered the courage to ask veterans Tony Lazzeri, Mark Koenig, and Mike Gazella if he could join them for a round of golf at the celebrated Jungle Club in St. Petersburg"
‒ Tom Stanton, Ty and the Babe: A Surprising Friendship

Land of Enchantment
"The Jungle, sub-tropical forest — a land of enchantment overlooking Boca Ciega Bay." 

‒ Where to Go and What to See In and Around the Sunshine City. 
The Independent, St. Petersburg, Florida, November 24, 1920

Hall of Fame Golfers

Hall of Fame golfer Gene Sarazen, one of many professional golfers who played the Jungle course

Walter Hagen, the greatest professional golfer of the era, holds the Jungle course record of 64.

Tournament Play

1930 - Final Round, St. Petersburg Open, a PGA event

1941 - Baseball Players Golf Tournament

⭐ View Post: 1941 Newsreel Footage of Jungle Golf Tournament

Jungle Country Club Prominent Guests

"Prominent among the baseball notables who were gathered at the annual dinner given by Al Lang at the Jungle Country Club Sunday were Kenesaw Mountain Landis, high commissioner of baseball, who journeyed here from Bellair. Charles Ebbets, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers came here for the day from Clearwater where Wilbert Robinson's proteges are training. Clark Griffith, president of the Washington Senators was a visitor from Tampa." 

‒ St. Petersburg Times, Mar 16, 1925

Luminaries, Celebrities and Notables Have Played Here

Hall of Fame golfers Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen, Hall of Fame baseball players Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx, Yankee manager Miller Huggins, St. Petersburg mayor Al Lang, H. Walter Fuller, Walter P. Fuller, baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, football coach Pop Warner, defense attorney Clarence Darrow, golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast, cartoonist Billy DeBeck, sportswriter Grantland Rice and many others.

1925: The Gangplank, Pinellas County's First Nightclub and Speakeasy

The Gangplank's terrace overlooked the Jungle Pier and Boca Ciega Bay ‒ sophisticates danced in the open air to the syncopated jazz sounds of Columbia recording artists Earl Gresh and the Gangplank Orchestra. Prohibition was the law, but there was no shortage of bootleg liquor which arrived by land (stashed in a nearby house), sea (the Jungle Pier), and air (Fuller Flying Field).

⭐ View Post: History of the Jungle Prado

SS Monte Carlo was the Most Elaborately Equipped Gambling House in the World

Beginning on Christmas Day 1930, patrons of the SS Monte Carlo could embark from the Jungle Pier on small boats that took them through John's Pass to a "palatial gambling boat" three miles offshore. The ship is rumored to have been financed by Al Capone.

⭐ View Post: Al Capone's Offshore Casino (Rare 1931 Video)

1926: St. Petersburg's First Airport - Fuller Flying Field

Charles Lindbergh had not yet crossed the Atlantic when Fuller Flying Field (later named Piper-Fuller Field) was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day 1926. It was St. Petersburg's first airport and the third in Florida. Built to promote Walter P. Fuller's real estate and tourism ventures, Fuller would later call it “the best bootlegging point in America.”
The Jungle Pier in 1923 (colorized)

The Jungle Pier in 1924 (colorized from St. Petersburg Times)

The pier was at the streetcar's western terminus. It was popular with tourists and locals who boarded large boats to the Gulf's bountiful fishing grounds. During the Roaring Twenties, Gangplank speakeasy patrons could party into the night on the pier.

Live from the Jungle Hotel, It's St. Petersburg's First Radio Station

"For a time, the [Jungle] hotel even had its own radio station, WSUN, which delighted patrons with lobby-side broadcasts." – Raymond Arsenault, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream 1888-1950.

The Legendary Orange Blossom Special Passed Through the Jungle on Its West Coast Run

The Orange Blossom Special traveled through The Jungle on the Seaboard Air Line rail tracks that are now paved and part of the Pinellas Trail, a 38.2 mile urban pathway.

Mobsters From Al Capone's Chicago Outfit Were Guests at the Jungle Hotel

Members of Al Capone's mob were guests at the Jungle Hotel in 1926 while attempting to set up a gambling operation outside the three mile limit in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Chicago Outfit. Al Capone center, Johnny "The Fox" Torrio right.

⭐ View Post: Mobsters From Al Capone's Chicago Outfit Were Guests at the Jungle Hotel

Monkeys Used to Swing in the Trees in the Jungle Neighborhood

In the late 1920's, a family of ring-tailed lemurs escaped from Monkey Island on the golf course in Pasadena and migrated three miles north to the Jungle where they lived happily for several years.

⭐ View Post: đť†• Hey Hey We're the Ring-tailed Monkeys

Architectural Masterpiece:

Addison Mizner's Casa Coe da Sol 

World famous architect Addison Mizner is best known for introducing the Mediterranean Revival style to Florida. Most of his buildings are in Palm Beach, Florida ‒ Casa Coe da Sol at 510 Park Street North is his only structure in St. Petersburg. Until Mizner began designing homes in Palm Beach, there was no distinct architectural style in Florida. Today, Mediterranean Revival architecture is seen throughout the state, including many structures in St. Petersburg such as The Jungle Hotel and Jungle Prada building in our neighborhood.

Jungle Fountain of Youth - The Dixie Well

The west side Fountain of Youth was located near the trolley line on Park Street, between Par Avenue and Bogie Avenue. To promote trolley ridership in 1917, the St. Petersburg & Gulf Railway Company advertised the water as a healthful tonic: "tones the system, aids in digestion, promotes snap and vigor. Take the Jungle Car and help yourself."

Jungle Fountain of Youth - Cocoon

A few steps north of the Dixie Well is Casa de Muchas Flores where director Ron Howard filmed the pool scene for the movie Cocoon. The story is about retirees who find themselves rejuvenated in a pool turned fountain of youth. There must be something in that Jungle water!

The Jungle Car

The St. Petersburg and Gulf Railway Company was founded in 1901 by F.A. Davis. He put H. Walter Fuller in charge of the company in 1909. Under Fuller's leadership, the system expanded its routes and by 1913 service was extended to The Jungle where Fuller was selling properties. The streetcar system continued operations in St. Petersburg until May 7, 1949.

⭐ View Post: The Jungle Line, Historic Photo

The Tocobaga People Lived Responsibly and Cared for the Jungle Neighborhood

There was a Tocobaga village center on Boca Ciega Bay in The Jungle near 1620 Park Street North, St. Petersburg. A plaza, burial mounds, and a midden (a mound of discarded sea shells, animal bones and pottery fragments) are found there. Numerous artifacts have been discovered and still more lie beneath the surface. The site is on private property and, unlike other mounds in St. Petersburg, it has remained relatively undisturbed. Guided tours are available: for more information, visit

⭐ View Post: The First Neighborhood: The Tocobaga People Lived Responsibly and Cared for the Jungle Neighborhood for Over 600 Years

1943 Army Air Forces Encampment

In 1943, the Jungle golf course was transformed into Tent City where 10,000 army recruits received basic training for World War II.

Pánfilo de Narváez Landing Site

Pánfilo de Narváez and a crew of 300 European explorers came ashore at the Jungle Prada site in 1528. Four members of the Narváez expedition traveled west across North America to become the first Europeans to explore the continent's interior.

Stephen Stills Learned to Play Guitar at Admiral Farragut Academy

Stephen Stills is considered one of the greatest rock and roll artists of all time. His name is recognized throughout the world. He's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (twice) and has sold over 35 million albums.
For a time, Crosby, Stills and Nash was the most popular rock group in the world and they were called the "American Beatles." According to Wikipedia, Crosby, Stills and Nash were "noted for their intricate vocal harmonies ... and lasting influence on American music and culture."


Construction at Pasadena-on-the-Gulf

In 1922, developer "Handsome Jack" Taylor bought 1800 acres of land south of The Jungle along Boca Ciega Bay to build a new city called Pasadena-on-the-Gulf. The infusion of capital on the west side initiated the Pasadena and Jungle building boom that resulted in the Jungle Prada building, the Jungle Hotel, Piper-Fuller Airfield, the Rolyat Hotel and dozens of Mediterranean-style homes.

Rolyat Hotel vintage postcard

Hagen-Jones 1926 Match of the Century
Jack Taylor, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones and Yankee owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert in 1926 on the Pasadena Golf Course where the "Match of the Century" was played between the top professional golfer (Hagen) and the top amateur (Jones). Hagen won the match.

Peacocks in The Jungle

In 1953, the Rothman family (who started Kane's Furniture) received a package in the mail at their home on Park Street near the Jungle Prada Site. The package contained a peacock and peahen who they named Gertrude and Heathcliff after the seagull characters on The Red Skelton Show. Over the years, the family (technically, the muster of peafowl) has grown to around fifty and peacock crossing signs have been put up on Park Street to protect them.

The Jungle Country Club's Astronaut Superstars

In 1944, the Jungle Country Club Hotel was sold to Admiral Farragut Academy.
Two of the twelve men who have walked on the moon are graduates of Admiral Farragut Academy.
Pictured: Alan Shepard (the first American in space), the moon rock display at Admiral Farragut Academy (the building was formerly the Jungle Country Club Hotel) and Charles Duke. Both graduates have walked on the moon. Only two locations in Florida have a moon rock on display ‒ Kennedy Space Center and Admiral Farragut Academy.