We managed to Visit Tarpon Springs, FL. Tarpon Springs is a beautiful gulf community founded in 1876. By 1895, sponge divers from The Florida Keys discovered sponge beds just off Tarpon Springs and the Sponge industry took off here.
Soon after, more than 500 Greek sponge divers were brought in and established the Greek enclave that is still there. or 30 years, the sponge industry was the largest industry in Florida—larger than citrus or tourism. Tarpon Springs was known as the “Sponge Capital of the World.”
In the 1950’s, a sponge blight essentially decimated the industry. New beds were discovered in the 1980’s and Tarpon Springs is again the natural sponge capital of the USA.
Tarpon Springs and especially the Sponge Docks area is now quite commercialized with many gift shops and sponge related sales. Fortunately, the Greek influence remains and there are many, many Greek restaurants and bakeries all around the town. Here is a picture of the one we had lunch at.
Our first stop was one of the 4 visitor centers operated by the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce, http://tarponspringschamber.com/ We spent several hours walking up and down the main street by the sponge docks. What a fun place! There are still sponge boats at the docks, and several boat tours will take you out in the harbor and up the Anclote river to the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico. There are also several interesting museums dedicated to the sponge industry and the early history of the town. Add to that a beautifully maintained Greek Orthodox Cathedral and you will have a full day. Visit Tarpon Springs when you are in the area, you’ll be glad you did.
Here are some more pictures of our visit.