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History of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

The USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center was established in the late 1980's to investigate processes related to coastal and marine environments and their societal implications related to natural hazards, resource sustainability, and environmental change.

Phase I: USGS Arrives in St. Petersburg

In the late 1980s the USGS searched for a location to establish a St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center. The tremendous support of the St. Petersburg business community and the University of South Florida were instrumental in choosing St. Petersburg. The initial contingent of six scientists began work in a temporary downtown location—a former podiatrist's office.

In 1989 the historic Studebaker Building was renovated as the new St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center. Originally built in 1925 as a Studebaker dealership and repair shop, the Studebaker Distributor sign is still present on the back of the building. The wagon wheels on the Studebaker logo are for the Conestoga Wagons that the Studebaker Brothers sold before they ventured into automobiles. The original tile in the front lobby and the open style of the building and ceilings are in keeping with the original architecture.

Prior to the renovation, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership with USF sought to revitalize this area of St. Petersburg. The USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center was one of the first components of this revitalization plan.

Phase II: The Getting Building

By 1996 the staff of the Center had grown to approximately 60 and construction began on the second Center building. The Getting Building was completed and opened on May 8, 1996. Named after Paul L. Getting, a St. Petersburg business leader whose hard work was instrumental in bringing the USGS to St. Petersburg, the building was constructed with State funds.

The Getting Building expanded the capabilities of the USGS to include more offices, a large laboratory space, electronics shop, warehouse, and loading/staging area.

Phase III and the C.W. Bill Young Marine Science Complex

Pursuing effective studies Earth science requires a multidisciplinary approach and a broad range of expertise. Consequently, the USGS has designated the St. Petersburg Office as a center for integrated science. The scientific staff has grown from a core group of geologists to include biologists, hydrologists, remote sensing specialists, biogeochemists, microbiologists, coral reef experts, fish ecologists, and more.

Dedicated in March 2008, the third building encompasses an area of 11,400 ft2 and features six state-of-the-art laboratories, a dive locker, and 10 offices. The third building is the latest addition to the C.W. Bill Young Marine Science Complex. Named for Congressman C.W. Bill Young, the Marine Science Complex is a cooperative venture that includes the University of South Florida (USF)'s College of Marine Science and its Center for Ocean Technology, the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, the Southwest Regional Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Fisheries, Florida Sea Grant, Eckerd College, and the State of Florida Institute of Oceanography.