The Old Southeast Neighborhood is one of over 100 neighborhoods that comprise the City of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is situated in the southern half of Pinellas County, Florida on the western shores of Tampa Bay. The Old Southeast enjoys a remarkable location adjacent to a bayfront linear park with year-round spectacular sunrises and at the same time is only just over a mile from Central Avenue in Downtown St. Petersburg. The walk from OSE to downtown restaurants, shops, and waterfront attractions, takes you over Salt Creek and past its several active marine sales, repair, and maintenance businesses, by the Bayboro Harbor Marina, and through the St. Petersburg campus of the University of South Florida.
The Gulf of Mexico coastline with the best beaches in Florida is a mere 20-minute drive westwards, with equally stunning sunsets to thrill the eyes.
The neighborhood extends west to east from 4th Street S to Beach Drive S. and south to north from 25th Avenue S, where it borders the historic Driftwood community, to 15th Avenue SE. OSE is bordered on the east by Lassing Park, a 12.5-acre park on Tampa Bay that runs from 15th to 22nd Avenues. This residential park offers fishing, games, walking, and a spectacular view of Tampa Bay.
The OSE is a residential area containing around 500 homes consisting mostly of single-family, one- and two-story homes, some dating back to the early days of the development of the neighborhood, and many built in the 1920s, through 1950s. Many have been renovated. Also common are additional housing units built often on the alley side of plots as separate buildings or above garages.
The neighborhood is famous for its colored hexagon-block sidewalks and the Old Southeast is a hex block preservation district that involves homeowners in the maintenance and upkeep of its historic walkways. Another street feature are the brick roadways on many of the avenues which add color and unique feel to local driving (as well as serving as a traffic calming device).
Palm trees of various types and laurel oaks are common in the planted area between the hexagonal paver sidewalks and the road. A sight not to be missed is a magnificent banyan tree on 19th Avenue SE near Beach Drive. Residents are particularly proud about their yards and the variety of color and flora makes walking the neighborhood a delight. OSE is also home to a flock of green parrots.
Although predominantly residential the neighborhood is served by two eateries within its boundaries: the Old Southeast Market at 3rd Street S and 17th Avenue S. and The Chattaway restaurant and bar at 4th Street S. and 22nd Avenue S. both within a 15-minute walk of most residences.
Residents are from all walks of life but of special interest are the number who are artists of many different mediums, resulting in the Old Southeast having the unique distinction of being an Artist Enclave, one of only two in St. Petersburg.
An early resident, Judge Robert B. Lassing, donated waterfront land to the city in 1924 with the condition that any structures on it are to be used for park purposes. The city acquired additional land in 1926, 1944, and 1945 for the park. On January 8, 1942, the 12.5-acre Lassing Park was dedicated. It has continued to provide enjoyment and beauty to residents and visitors. The City maintains the park, mowing the grassy lawn areas neatly and clearing up fallen fronds after a storm promptly.
The ever-growing skyline of downtown St. Petersburg is the backdrop to a northward view from Lassing Park and on the brightest of days the tall buildings of the business area of Tampa glitter in the setting sun. Directly eastwards across Tampa Bay can be seen the stacks of the “manatee” power station. Coast Guard ship activity visible from Lassing Park indicates the maritime nature of the area to the north of OSE where Salt Creek flows into Bayboro Harbor.
Lassing Park is a tremendous base for a range of recreational activities both land and water based. With the wind in the right direction the shallow stretch of water between the sandbar and the park is populated by dozens of kite boarders. The sandy edge to the park is ideal for launching your paddle board or kayak for a gentle ride near to shore or for the more adventurous to head out to the bay proper. Many residents and visitors simply walk their dogs up and down the one mile stretch or wade out to fish. And several rise early to watch the often spectacular sunrises. Dogs benefit from the generously provided poop bags donated by Pet Food Warehouse and the dispensers serviced by OSNA volunteers. It’s a great place to meet your neighbors for a chat.
Not only people and dogs like Lassing Park – a variety of birds, especially pelicans, waders, herons and migrating species inhabit and enliven the shoreline.
Sea level rise and the impact of storms have led to a loss of over 20 feet of shoreline over the last 10 years at the northern end of Lassing Park. Consequently, a fully funded collaboration project between the City of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay Watch is scheduled to be implemented during the last quarter of 2021, will take steps to mitigate further erosion.