Webb’s City in St Petersburg Florida was once the largest tourist destination back in the 50s when I was growing up. Webb’s served 60,000 people each day. This was long before Walt Disney secretly started buying land in Central Florida, and before the Interstate Highway System came to Florida. I remember coming home from Wildwood FL after visiting family. On US-301 alone there were many big signs saying, See Webb’s City the World’s Most Unusual Drugstore. Yes, and they came and made little St Petersburg world-famous! That’s how a medicine man from Tennessee built his empire using 10 City Blocks. and at its peak, Webb reportedly did sales of $100M monthly. I wished y’all could have seen my old playgrounds!
I was fascinated by Webb’s City. It was founded by James Earl “Doc: Webb, ↱” and what a place it was. Talking mermaids, and dancing chickens, There were 29 barbers’ haircuts were 29 cents with a free double header ice cream cone Mom, I need a haircut 😎 Doc sold dollar bills for 89 cents. Webb had girls in bathtubs demonstrating his bubble bath.
Unfortalny in the 70s the Interstate was here, and Disney World was opening. Tourists no longer have to drive two-lane country roads. And Walt Disney was advertising on the Interstate to come to visit Disney World. Webb’s empire started crumbling and he sold out just in time. The new owner went bankrupt a few years later. Webb retired living large In his waterfront condo and enjoying his golden years. And, the city of St Petersburg demolished Webb’s main building. If you were to drive by the area today you’ll never know the history behind that now empty plot of land in the gas-plant area of town.
I Remember Doc’s gasoline selling for 19.9 cents a gallon, drawing a line around the block. He had to hire guards to keep his customers from blocking other businesses. He had parking space spotters in crow’s nests, and parking attendants on the ground directing traffic to an available space. It was a sight to see and experience!