When Walter P. Fuller built the Jungle Prado building in 1924, he named it after the famous Prado Promenade in Havana. Experts were brought in from Cuba to lay the terrazzo floors. The Jungle Prado was originally designed as a suburban shopping center for St. Pete’s west coast residents. It included a “garage, grocery store, drug store, clothing and sports shops, a real estate office and night club, the Gangplank, the first night club on the gulf coast.” (St. Petersburg Times, December 8, 1940)
The building is still standing, but at some point in time there was a name change to Jungle Prada and the surrounding neighborhood is now known as the Jungle Prada neighborhood. What happened?
A search of St. Petersburg newspapers finds the first occurrence of “Jungle Prada” in 1941.
In 1940, the vacant Jungle Prado building was purchased by Mrs. Ottilie Gobel, who made renovations to the property including conversion of most of the stores into apartments. These apartments were advertised in 1941 as the Jungle Prada.
In December 1941, the “Jungle Prado Chicken Dinner Restaurant” opened in the same building, so Jungle Prada and Jungle Prado names were both in use. Beginning in 1942, the restaurant was advertised as the “Jungle Prada Chicken Dinner Restaurant.”
Over the years, Prado gave way to Prada. We don’t know why Mrs. Gobel decided to name the apartments Jungle Prada ‒ or if it was just some sort of accident. Walter P. Fuller lived to see his property renamed and didn’t approve of it. Of the wild monkeys in the Jungle neighborhood, Fuller wrote “they made the Jungle Prado (it isn’t Prada, as currently called, there isn’t any such word) their headquarters.”
Intentional or not, Prada is a fitting name for a premier neighborhood. The name conjures thoughts of the Italian company Prada which was not well-known in 1941, but today it is an influential fashion house ‒ “the Prada brand is a premium status symbol” (Wikipedia).
“Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can’t say
People just liked it better that way”
— Istanbul Not Constantinople, 1953 novelty song, lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy