Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

As the actual Pier is reduced to rubble, a new wall mural plays on fond memories

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Day three of external demolition of the inverted pyramid is winding down and already the front of the building looks like it was hit with a bomb. Crews stopped work on excavating the southern half of the front of the building Wednesday and began ripping through the side to the north of the elevator shaft.

Internal guts of the 1973 structure are on display to those taking a trip to peak through fences at demolition progress or on a 24/7 live feed of the Pier hosted by the travel insurance company Squaremouth.

But a couple miles west of the Pier a new image of the Pier has emerged. As part of a massive wall mural program this month called Shine, artist Michael Vasquez painted a giant mural of the city’s now falling iconic Pier depicting a father-son duo fishing off Spa Beach overlooking the inverted pyramid.

Vasquez is a St. Pete native who now works out of Miami with a focus on urban, street culture and identity. A current exhibit at the Smithsonian national Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., is displaying his work.

The Pier mural was Vasquez’s first large-scale mural. There are some flaws with the mural. While the image appears to show the fisherman facing the Pier from the Northside where Spa Beach is located, there is no beach, just a sidewalk. The front of the Pier also appears to be facing north while the actual structure’s entrance faced west toward the city, not the bay.

Pier mural

Regardless, the timing of Vasquez’s mural could not have been more opportune. The mural was born as the actual Pier was being systematically dismantled by heavy machinery to make way for Pier Park.

Demolition of the inverted pyramid is expected to take about six weeks. While that’s well over a month away, progress on the city-facing façade suggests the Pier as residents know it may cease to be all that recognizable much sooner.

Demolition of the entire Pier head and approach is expected to be complete by February. Pier Park construction is planned for 2017 with completion in 2018.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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