Literary 007 location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Cover to a U.S. paperback edition of LIve And Let Die

Cover to a U.S. paperback edition of LIve And Let Die

In the novel Live And Let Die (1954), St. Petersburg, Florida, wasn’t exactly James Bond’s type of town.

In Chapter 13, “Death of a Pelican,” at one point “Bond caught a whiff of the atmosphere that makes the town the ‘Old Folks Home’ of America. Everyone on the sidewalks had white hair, white or blue, and the famous Sidewalk Davenports that Solitaire had described were thick with oldsters sitting in rows like the starlings in Trafalgar Square.”

Author Ian Fleming goes on to describe “the stringy, collapsed chests and arms of the men displayed to the sunshine in Truman shirts.” Women had “fluffy, sparse balls of hair” while the men had “bony bald heads.”

As Bond takes all this in, American agent Felix Leiter says, “It makes you want to climb right into the tomb and pull the lid down.”

By the late 1980s, Pinellas County, Florida, part of the Tampa Bay metro area which includes St. Petersburg, was bustling with development. Downtown St. Petersburg, however, wasn’t seeing as much of that development.

In 2015, it’s doubtful Fleming would recognize the place.

On March 7, there were several weddings taking place in downtown St. Petersburg, including an outdoor ceremony. Not a strand of blue hair to be seen. The downtown area now is jammed with with various new restaurants.

It’s also awash in money. There’s a large sign promoting a condo project for units priced from $500,000 to more than $1 million. A major St. Petersburg pier project is planned. It’s a long way from what Leiter described to Bond as “pawnshops stuffed with gold watches and masonic rings.”

For more information about St. Petersburg, CLICK HERE for Wikipedia’s entry about the city.

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