With another memorable year drawing to a close, it’s time for The Pulse to count down our top stories of 2016.
As you can see from the list below of the top 10 most-viewed stories of 2016 on The Pulse, our readers this year were very interested in stories that brought value to them, with our articles and videos being viewed and read millions of times. You showed us that you demand quality storytelling and community-centric journalism that matters — from breaking and economic development news, to history articles and photos, to forward-thinking commentary and satire.
As we close our first full year by telling untold stories and highlighting issues relevant to the lives of real people in our community, we want to thank you for following and continuing to be invested in our communities along the Gulf Coast. We’re sure 2017 will be just as eventful.
1. New $500 million amusement park coming to the Gulf Coast
A new half-a-billion dollar amusement park development is under construction just a half-hour drive from Pensacola, with an opening scheduled for Summer 2015. The park, dubbed “Owa,” will feature the largest roller coaster on the Gulf Coast outside Tampa, along with dozens of other attractions and rides.
2. Tornado wreaks havoc on Pensacola
Late in the evening on February 23, a rare tornado touched down in Pensacola, leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Immediately in its aftermath, first responders and citizens came together to assist their neighbors and Pensacolians throughout the recovery.
3. Pensacola Beach named top beach in United States
Popular travel website TripAdvisor named Pensacola Beach to its list of the top ten beaches in the United States.
4. $50M downtown project suspended, Studer tells realtor group
In one of our more controversial stories of the year, we reported on the fears that Quint Studer would not move forward with his planned $50 million mixed-use development in downtown Pensacola.
In January, the healthcare executive turned real estate developer told a room full of realtors that he had suspended work on the project amid fears that the legality of a multi-million dollar tax break for the developer had come into question. Following the report, Studer was granted the tax incentive after lobbying state representative Matt Gaetz to pass legislation to grant the project the multi-million dollar Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption. The project is currently under construction and expected to be complete next year.
5. Ten photos that show Mobile as you’ve probably never seen it
Like many cities on the Gulf Coast, Mobile, Ala. has a rich history stretching back hundreds of years. Founded by the French in 1702, Mobile has long been a center of commerce both for Alabama and the entire Southeast United States. Odds are, though, most readers have never seen the Port City as it looked nearly a century ago — stripped of its modern skyscrapers and industrial fixtures like Austal USA and the Aeroplex at Brookley. We took a look back at these rare images of the Port City.
6. Here’s what the new Pensacola Bay Bridge will look like
After years of planning, designs for the new Pensacola Bay Bridge were released to the public this year. Skanska USA will build the nearly half a billion dollar bridge that will include many features demanded by the community, including a protected bicycle and pedestrian paths, a center-span suspension structure, and an increase from four to six lanes of traffic. Construction is scheduled to begin within the next few weeks, with both bridges scheduled for completion in 2020.
7. The Real Story: Geronimo’s captivity in Pensacola
We took a look back at an often heard, but misunderstood chapter in both local and national history when one of the great Apache warriors, Geronimo, was captured and brought to Pensacola against his will and treated as a spectacle for the American public at Fort Pickens.
Amid prison overcrowding, Fort Pickens to reopen as county jail
In another — but certainly more light-hearted — article involving Fort Pickens, our senior fake correspondent Dirk Scuttlebutt broke the news that the 19th-century fortress would be reopened as Escambia County’s new jail.
9. Pensacola’s Emerald City closing
In one of our more unfortunate stories of the year, news came in September that Emerald City, a long-running fixture in Pensacola’s LGBT community, announced its closure. The East Wright street building had been the epicenter of Pensacola’s gay nightlife for more than two decades.
10. Trader Jon’s brought back to life in downtown Pensacola
For decades, Trader Jon’s was the watering hole of choice for the U.S. Navy pilots who trained in Pensacola, known far and wide for the eccentricities of owner Martin “Trader Jon” Weissman and his massive collection of Navy memorabilia.
Nearly two decades after the Pensacola icon passed away, the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum brought the infamous bar back to life (less the alcohol, of course), and now locals and visitors can take a trip back in time to revisit the bar and man we were all so fond of.