The name of the city was inspired by the tarpon, a fish that inhabits the nearby waters. Although the details of how the name came to be are uncertain, several accounts attribute it to early settlers who arrived in the area in the 1860s and 1870s.
Sponges were discovered in the Florida Keys during the 1820s. A commercial sponging operation was founded there around 1849. Spongers came to the area to work the beds and some relocated to Tarpon Springs. By 1900 the City was considered the largest sponge port in the United States.
The internationally renowned Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs is a traditional Greek sponge-fishing enclave that has grown into a tourist mecca.
Tarpon Springs is a historic small city of 23,000 with an unusual mix of Greek culture, and Victorian and Floridian architecture. Incorporated in 1887, it is the oldest city in Pinellas County, Florida. Located on the Gulf of Mexico on the west coast of Florida, Tarpon Springs is north and west of the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area.
The city is full of parks, bayous and brick streets, and boasts two distinct downtowns. The National Register of Historic Places lists downtown, which is a mix of antique shops, boutiques, galleries, and museums.
Called the Venice of the South, Tarpon Springs has been an arts destination since the early 1900s, when George Inness, the father of American landscape painting, made his home here; other artists, performers and arts enthusiasts soon followed.
Tarpon Springs is perhaps most famous for its 100-year-old annual Epiphany celebration, involving Greek Orthodox young men diving for a cross thats thrown into Spring Bayou. Today the population is rapidly expanding; more and more businesses, families and retirees are discovering the magic of Tarpon Springs.