Russell-Fields – City Pier History
In 1977, the officials of the beautiful Panama City Beach in Florida decided to honor the city’s first mayor, Dan Russell, by building a concrete pier and naming it Russell Pier. This pier was designed to be a staple of the city and allowed visitors from all around to get a different view of the coastline. Over the years, the locals started calling it City Pier, and now it is the home of some of the best pier fishing on the Gulf Coast.
It was not until 2009 that the pier was remodeled and renamed to honor not only Dan Russell, but also Elgin “Popeye” Fields, Jr. According to an article on Tripsmarter.com, Fields was a “longtime supervisor at City Pier, who loved both fishing and people, making him a memorable pier fixture. Fields was known to help untangle fishing lines, jump in after rods, and even stay late for anyone needing a listening ear.1” Although Fields was unable to see his name officially attached to the pier, his legacy was already in the hearts of the pier-lovers in this town.
As previously stated, Russell-Fields Pier was reopened in 2009 after undergoing an $8 million renovation. Although Hurricane Opal only caused minor damage to the pier in late 1995, it was the beginning of the end for the original City Pier. On September 16, 2004, an impressive Hurricane Ivan caused some extensive damage. As described in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Beaches and Coastal System’s 2010 Historical Pier Damage report, “the 100-foot wide by 16-foot long seaward end T-section of the 1,166-foot concrete…pier…was destroyed. Rails and deck landward of the T-section were also damaged.”
The report also describes the damage inflicted to the pier in 2005 when Hurricane Dennis ripped through the city. This hurricane “removed an additional 50 feet off the end of the Dan Russell Pier…and inflicted major damage to another 250 feet.2” After all this, the city decided to officially repair and renovate the pier into what it is today.
As showcased on the Best of Panama City Beach website, the new and improved Dan Russell Pier opened to the public on July 4th, 20093. The new pier is now a foot wider, twenty-nine feet longer, and eight feet higher. Added amenities include a bait and tackle shop, restrooms, ticket booth, a yummy concession stand and a brand new observation deck. Approximately two hundred “blow-out” boards were also installed to help relieve pressure from storm surge during intense storms.
If the concession stand does not fill you up, the delicious Hook’d Pier Bar & Grill can be found at the base of the pier providing guests with an array of food selections.
But the main reason people visit Russell-Fields Pier is to try their luck catching the big one. If you get lucky, anything from King Mackerel to Bonita may be found at the end of your line!