A visually and cartographically explicit narrative blog about Tampa's built history and development.
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The (De?)Evolution of the Shuffle in Tampa

I was inspired by my recent first visit to the beautiful St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Courts and Visual Ephemera's recent postings on Florida's vanishing shuffleboard courts to go in search of Tampa's remaining public shuffleboard courts.  The only court I knew of in Tampa is a well-maintained set of courts at MacFarlane Park in West Tampa.
However, I found out that the reason these courts are so nice is due to the fact they were built around 2001 when the city built a new senior center at the park, furthering the stereotypical association is between senior citizens and shuffleboard is still going strong.

Trolling through the trusty ol' Burgert Bros. Collection I typed in "Shuffleboard" and found that a few more had existed.  The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Complex on Oregon was actually a municipal trailer park during the depression era.  The original administration building is still in use and behind it sits a set of 5 deteriorating courts, I can only assume that these were the original courts in the picture below.

A few blocks away over on Howard Avenue the scene at Rey park is very different.  With help from the WPA the city built a beautiful park complete with a small bandshell, tennis court and shuffleboard court.

But as time marched on tastes have changed.  The scene has changed slightly, the tennis court is now a basketball court and it appears that the city has paved over the shuffleboard courts but kept the benches.

Sadly, the crown jewel of Tampa's Shuffleboarding past is no longer standing.  Back in the 30s, after the city had acquired the decaying Tampa Bay Hotel, an area North of the old Casino was turned into a tourist recreation area.  The city built a large recreation hall, and several shuffleboard courts hoping to satiate the needs of visiting tourists and retirees.  The courts were located where the University of Tampa's Kelce Library now stands.

4 comments:

  1. Wonderful work! Thanks for documenting this. Initial indications are that the courts in Lake Worth may be preserved!

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  2. We recently played shuffleboard for the first time at the Shuffleboard Club in St. Petersburg. What a blast! It's suited to all ages (my kids loved it) yet requires some serious skill to do it well so it can appeal to even the most competitive of adults. With proper promotion (like they do with the courts in St. Pete) historic courts could easily see a resurgence. Thanks for the interesting post.

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  3. Thanks Rick! Great to hear that the Lake Worth courts will be preserved. Have you ever been to the Bradenton courts? I attended the Floridian Festival and Highwayman Art Show this past weekend in St. Pete and the shuffleboard ephemera was fetching a pretty penny!

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  4. Never been to the Bradenton courts. I wanted to go to the Floridiana Festival but just couldn't swing it.

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