A visually and cartographically explicit narrative blog about Tampa's built history and development.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Purity Springs

Literally a stones throw from Tampa's most ubiquitous spring, Sulphur Springs, is little Purity Springs. Unheralded, it sits in between a housing development and North River Shore Drive, the head is about 50 or 60 yards from the river.   The Spring pool is small, only about 7 or 8 yards across and about 3 feet deep, but its waters are still a clear, deep aquamarine blue.  The edge of the spring is lined with what appear to be limestone border rocks.  Its flow is directed to the river through a channel under the road.  It is perhaps one of the most accessible springs in the city.  On a warm afternoon you will undoubtedly see a few neighborhood children splashing around in its fairly clear waters, when it isn't occupied by ducks, chickens or other birds.
View North from River Shore Drive, the water flows right under me and the road down to the River.
The decline in quality of Florida's springs has become increasingly apparent over the past couple of years.  Many of the states wonders have either stopped flowing or have had their clear blue waters clouded by polluted run-off, see the Tampa Bay Times recent look at our vanishing springs.  Springs were the states first tourist attractions.  The neighborhood of Sulphur Springs, though now in decline, with its tower, gazebo and large dog track would not exist if it weren't for Sulphur Springs.

Purity Springs was tapped by a water company, named Purity Springs Water, for many years.  Some pilings from the bottling and pumping buildings used to be visible near the spring (as seen in the Sandborn map).  The Spring has technically been a City park for years.  But until last year you would have hardly known it, that is when the city finally put a sign up on the property.  Next time you're driving along Florida Ave. take a turn onto River Shore Drive on the Northwest side of the Hillsborough River to take in one of our city's natural wonders. 
1931 Sandborn Map
The Purity Springs office space in the Garrison area of downtown Tampa on Morgan Street.  Courtesy of the Burgert Brothers Collection.  Note the water tower on site.

7 comments:

  1. MY GREAT UNCLE JESSE HILL WAS THE HEAD OF PURITY SPRINGS YEARS AGO, FRANK HILL

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  2. Thank you for TAMPANIA's refreshing yet deeper look into built and --with the Purity Springs post-- natural histories. I'm bookmarking TAMPANIA and adding it to my MORNING COFFEE FireFox *must read* widget. Thanks again!

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  3. I have been going to this spring since I was a little kid and my father has been going since he was a little kid and I now take my children.However, the water flow seems less than what it used to be.

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  4. I have been going to this spring since I was a little kid and my father has been going since he was a little kid and I now take my children.However, the water flow seems less than what it used to be.

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  5. As a 3rd generation of coming here to purity Springs, I now take my kids which is the 4th generation of coming to the sring. I know the water shoots out the ground less now than it did when I was a kid. I hope it will still be here and available for my grandchild and there children in the future.

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  6. what happened there? all of the plants have been cut down! I used to go there and take marvelous photographs. Now it's absolutely barren! Habitat and ecosystem destruction. Left a message with park director to see what happened.

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