Settled in the 1870's, Tarpon Springs is situated on the Anclote River about a mile from the Gulf of Mexico. The city's name was inspired by the tarpon fish, which have always been abundant in the area. Tarpon Springs really began to grow in 1881, when Hamilton Disston purchased 4,000,000 acres of land from the Florida Internal Improvement Fund. About 20,000 acres of this land were located in what are now Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties. Disston chose business colleague Anson PK Safford to head his Florida operations from Tarpon Springs. The city again enjoyed a boost in 1887, when the railroad reached Tarpon Springs. That same year, the Anclote Key lighthouse was built.
But it was the 1890 birth of the commercial sponge industry that changed Tarpon Springs forever. Sponge harvesting would become a mainstay of Tarpon Springs' economy and culture. Greek immigrant John Corcoris arrived in 1896 and soon hired 500 Greek divers to operate the mechanized sponge boats he'd brought with him. To this day, Tarpon Springs offers an incredible slice of Greek culture; the city boasts the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the United States.
Now visitors to Tarpon Springs will find shops and restaurants with plenty of Greek flavor. Sponge boat outings are available from the dock, and history buffs will find many local buildings of interest on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out Visit Florida for information on specific restaurants, hotels, and outings in Tarpon Springs.