Images of Working Waterfronts: Tarpon Springs

A working watefront is a district where water-dependent activity, such as ports and fishing docks, are in great abundance. Just about every city on the coast or a river has their own version. However, as time goes on, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find those that have been able to maintain their historic character. Tarpon Springs' Sponge Docks, along the Anclote River, is one of those special places.

Published January 27, 2015 in Cities -

Named after the fish, Tarpon Springs was incorporated in 1887 as a winter resort for northerners. That same decade, the city's first sponge business was established. In 1905, a new technique of sponge diving was introduced by John Cocoris. Greek divers and crew members were heavy recruited to participate in the growing industry.

Soon, the sponge diving industry had become one of Florida's leading maritime industries and the city had grown to have the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the US. During the 1940s, a red tide algae bloom destroyed Gulf of Mexico sponge fields, causing many businesses to focus more on fishing and shrimping. Today, activity along the Anclote River and Dodecanese Boulevard is alive and well. Now a popular destination for Tampa Bay area tourists, the Sponge Docks have evolved into a district where the maritime industry, entertainment, dining, and culture co-exist to celebrate Tarpon Springs' Greek heritage.

The Sponge Docks are a must see for any community seeking ways to breathe life back into their own working waterfronts and economically distressed fishing villages.

Here is a collection of images of things you can see while exploring one of Florida's most interesting and vibrant historic working waterfronts.

The E.R. Meres Sponge Packing House is a historic site a few blocks south of the Sponge Docks. Originally completed in 19??, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Athens Street

Dodecanese Boulevard. The Sponge Docks District still thrives as both a historic working waterfront and current tourist destination.

An example of cost effective public accessible restrooms.

The aftermath of a deep sea fishing trip.

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery.

The Sponge Docks are located three miles up from the mouth of the Anclote River. Here, the river is lined with fishing vessels, shipyards, seafood packaging houses, restaurants and boat touring companies.

Dimitri's on the Water. Several restaurants serve traditional Greek cuisine and fresh seafood.


Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill


Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

Good night from Anclote Key Preserve State Park.

Aerial of Tarpon Springs

Aerial of the Sponge Docks District

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at

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