Jules Verne, the French author who penned "From the Earth to the Moon" in 1865, was a science fiction writer for whom the Ballast Point Park in Tampa was originally named - "Jules Verne Park." He had never set foot upon Florida soil. He did have a futuristic vision for his imaginary "Columbiad" manned rocket ship to be fired from a cannon from "Tampa town", Florida to the moon. Slightly more than a century later in 1968, Apollo 8 circled the moon, blasting off from NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, only 135 miles northeast of Tampa.
Now called Ballast Point Park, the formerly named Jules Verne Park dates back to Tampa’s earliest days, and offers spectacular views of downtown Tampa. It has walkways along the water, picnic shelters, grills, enhanced landscaping and space-themed play equipment in the children’s play area. There is plenty of free paved parking in this quiet, well maintained and clean City of Tampa Park. The park is full of shade trees, and offers quick access to Bayshore Boulevard for jogging, walking or rollerblading. It has a modern, lighted, recently renovated fishing pier which is open 24 hours. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and has picnic shelters and a gazebo that can both be reserved. There is a small restaurant inside the park, in front of the pier, called Taste of Boston. They serve seafood, chowder, salads, burgers and ice cream. Park amenities also include a bait shop, boat ramp, newly renovated boat dock, and public restrooms. The City of Tampa’s Joe Abrahams Fitness and Wellness Center is located at the entrance to the park and offers a variety of classes.
The historical marker placed at the park by the Hillsborough County Historical Commission reads:
(FORMERLY) Jules Verne Park
Mrs. Chester W. Chapin controlling owner of the company which operated the city's first electric trolley cars, purchased these acres and in 1894 developed this site into a tropical park as a terminal for her line. She named it for the French writer Jules Verne (1814-1905) who in his famous novel "From the Earth to the Moon" first published in 1865, chose Tampa town as his launching site for the imaginary shot of his rocket to that planet near one hundred years ago.
Ballast Point Park is located at 5300 Interbay Blvd., Tampa, FL 33611.
Joe Abrahams Fitness and Wellness Center is located just inside of the park to the left at 5212 Interbay Blvd., Tampa, Florida, 33611 and shares the same entrance with the entire Ballast Point Park at 5300 Interbay Blvd.
"From the Earth to the Moon" by Jules Verne