St. Pete in the 1930s: Tan Lines Optional

Did you know that back in 1930 the city of St. Pete, in its never ending search for a new promotion, decided that nude sunbathing might just be a draw?

Didn’t quite make it to the Solarium.

Perhaps surprising no one in particular, the new idea brought a flood of tourists looking to get that all-over application of Vitamin D based on some rather flimsy medical research done a few years previous.

The concept was ‘researched’ and legitimized by a St. Pete physician named EJ Melville in 1922 (also to no one’s surprise). He wrote in an essay entitled ‘The Curative Value of Florida Sunshine’ published in the International Journal of Surgery, that ‘Heliotherapy’ was fairly simple… ‘All that is required is that the patient spend most of the day lying naked in the sun with the eyes shaded from the glare.’ The novel curative concept was of course reprinted in numerous other publications nationwide.

In perhaps yet one more non-surprise, it was also found that St. Pete was positioned perfectly latitudinal to the sun, offering the ideal angle for maximum curative effect.

How to Legitimize a Concept

So back to 1930. The city built an Egyptian-themed Solarium where separate men’s and women’s courtyards were available for, um, therapy. It operated for a decade or two but is gone now. Hotels also jumped on the concept, offering similar rooftop retreats for those suffering from the many ills that only tanning one’s privates could cure.

Yep. St. Pete.

Bring Back The Nude Sunbathing!

Curative, life-giving, and stimulating, I might add.

Why the idea ever died out is a mystery, but one I think many of us would be keen to see reintroduced. I am not sure if anyone would be cured of anything, but surely a nude sunbathing park might provide for some… stimulation.

In my expert, and now published opinion (here, on my own blog anyway), I would declare unequivocally that to continue to progress as a city, we must look to the past. The excellent leadership of forward thinking mayors, such as ‘bathing-suit inspector’ Frank Pulver and other recreational thought leaders like John Lodwick (who without a doubt dreamed this campaign up) we could learn much.

Let us not force people to travel miles by boat to Passage Key in their quest for healing under the curative and perfectly angled St. Pete Sunshine!

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