The Dec. 12 Gas Plant/Laurel Park neighborhood reunion brought yet another fresh piece of street art to downtown St.Petersburg.
The new mural—a collaboration between iBOMS, Reid Jenkins, Zulu Painter and Campbell Park Rec Center youths—covers the north-side wall of Campbell Park Rec Center with colorful images of St. Pete’s historic Gas Plant and Laurel Park neighborhoods.
The City of St. Pete demolished both neighborhoods in 1988
to make way for the construction of the Florida Suncoast Dome, now Tropicana Field, displacing hundreds of Black families in the process. It’s an ugly part of St. Pete’s history that deserves to be remembered and learned from.
On Sunday, Dec. 12, as the City of St. Petersburg takes next steps in deciding how to redevelop this historic site
, former residents of St. Pete’s Gas Plant and Laurel Park gathered at Tropicana Field to share their stories and ideas on how to move forward.
The reunion was a joint effort, made possible by Voices Heard, Voices Matter of the Bloomberg Harvard Group, the African American Heritage Association, the Institute on Black Life at the University of South Florida, the City of St. Petersburg, and The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg.
Though the reunion was specifically for former residents of St. Pete’s Gas Plant and Laurel Park neighborhoods and their families, the mural that came with it is for everyone to see.
iBOMS, Reid Jenkins and Zulu Painter’s latest work stretches across a wall the length of the basketball courts at Campbell Park Rec Center. The three artists’ styles merge together in a way that pays homage to African-American art and culture while simultaneously showcasing the gorgeous variety of artistic expression we see in St. Pete on the daily.
The mural features prominent aspects of the Gas Plant and Laurel Park neighborhoods, like kids playing in Laurel Park and one of the iconic gas cylinders that Gas Plant neighborhood was named after. May it remind us of the homes destroyed and communities displaced in the name of baseball.
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