Located in Tampa, Florida, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is considered one of the most iconic bridges in the US. Spanning 4.1 miles across the bay, the cable-stayed structure is also the fifth longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. First opened in 1954, the bridge has offered an easy way for locals and tourists alike to cross Tampa Bay and visit its neighboring cities and islands.
Travelers making their way across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge are captivated by its grand scale and beauty. From the magnificent blue bridge with its steel girders, towers, and cables extending up to 340 feet above the water, to the breathtaking 360-degree views, there’s no denying that this is an unforgettable experience. Plus, its location provides convenient access to Tampa Bay’s beaches, restaurants, and points of interest, like Fort DeSoto Park.
In addition to its beauty, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is also renowned for its unique history. On May 9th, 1980, the bridge was the site of one of the worst maritime disasters in US history. A 750-foot freighter, the Summit Venture, was forced to veer away from a collision course with a coast guard cutter. Its path took it directly into one of the supports of the bridge and a 1,400-foot section of the structure collapsed into the bay. Luckily, there were only 35 fatalities in the aftermath of the incident.
That fateful day forever changed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but its legacy has endured over the years and it is still considered a symbol of strength and resilience. In 2018, it was reconstructed and now includes safer modern features such as wider lanes and enhanced crash protection.
Thanks to its beauty, its history, and its status as a local landmark, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a must-visit destination in Tampa. Visitors from around the world come to marvel at its design and take in the unparalleled views it provides. Whether you’re looking for a memorable experience or a unique photo opportunity, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is the perfect place to go!
On the morning of May 9th, 1980, a violent thunderstorm in Tampa Bay left a cargo vessel heading straight for disaster. The 750-foot freighter, Summit Venture, veered away from a collision course with a coast guard cutter, finding itself barreling towards the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
When the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened to the public in 1954, it opened up a new world of possibilities for locals and visitors alike. Four-lanes wide, thousands of large boats and ships passed underneath safely over the next 30 years. However, on May 9th, 1980, tragedy struck. During a violent thunderstorm, a freighter, the Summit Venture, collided with one of the bridge’s western columns, causing 1,200 feet of the bridge to fall into the bay and 35 people to lose their lives.
Following the tragedy, a new Sunshine Skyway Bridge was constructed and opened in 1987. Rather than completely replacing the bridge, the remaining structures were renovated, and in 1994, they would become Skyway Fishing Pier State Park. This memorial and recreational area reinsures the legacy of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and those affected by the incident. Visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the bay while also paying tribute to its past.