CLEARWATER, THE SPRINGTIME CITY 1940-1965
The early 1940s found Clearwater residents concerned with the Second World War. Several large hotels in the area, including the Fort Harrison and the Belleview Biltmore were stripped of their luxurious furnishings and filled with army recruits, who were trained here to get acclimated to the beaches of the South Pacific. Locals did what they could to make the soldiers feel welcome, keeping their downtown stores open to accommodate the soldiers schedules, inviting the military men to events at the Municipal Auditorium and entertaining the officers wives at tea parties.
Of note during this time was the development of the Roebling Alligator, an amphibious tank designed by Clearwater resident Donald Roebling. The tank was tested locally and used extensively overseas. This earned Mr. Roebling a Certificate of Achievement from the United States Navy.
After the war, some veterans returned to Clearwater, bringing their families with them, and Clearwater experienced another boom. Adding another draw was the establishment of Clearwater as the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1948. By 1950, new subdivisions were being built, the Fun N Sun Festival began and by 1957, Clearwater was the second fastest growing city in the United States.