Tampa

Tampa Travel Blog

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Welcome to Tampa

Tampa's fortunes took several sudden turns for the better. First, phosphate was discovered in the Bone Valley region southeast of Tampa in 1883. The mineral, vital for the production of fertilizers and other products, was soon being shipped out from the Port of Tampa in great volume. Tampa is still a major phosphate exporter.

Henry B. Plant's railroad line reached Tampa and its port shortly thereafter, connecting the small town to the country's railroad system. Tampa finally had the overland transportation link that it needed. The railroad enabled phosphate and commercial fishing exports to go north,brought many new products into the Tampa market, as well as its first tourists.

The new railroad link enabled another important industry to come to Tampa.

Downtown Tampa seen from Davis Islands
In 1885, the Tampa Board of Trade helped Vicente Martinez Ybor move his cigar manufacturing operations to Tampa from Key West. Nearness to Cuba made imports of tobacco easy by sea, and Plant's railroad made shipment of finished cigars to the rest of the US market easy by land.

Since Tampa was still a small town at the time (population less than 5000), Ybor built hundreds of small houses around his factory to accommodate the immediate influx of mainly Cuban and Spanish cigar workers. Other cigar factories soon moved in, and Ybor City (as the approximately 40 acres (16 ha) settlement was dubbed) quickly made Tampa a major cigar production center. Many Italian and a few eastern European Jewish immigrants also arrived starting in the late 1880s, operating businesses and shops that catered to the cigar workers.

Tampa's Trolley, It runs between Ybor City and the Channelside District.
The majority of Italian immigrants came from Alessandria Della Rocca and Santo Stefano Quisquina, two small Sicilian towns with which Tampa still maintains strong ties.

In 1891, Henry B. Plant built a lavish 500+ room, quarter-mile (400 m) long, Moorish Revival style luxury resort hotel called the Tampa Bay Hotel among 150 acres (0.61 km2) of manicured gardens along the banks of the Hillsborough River. The eclectic structure cost US$2.5 million to build. Plant filled his expensive playground with exotic art collectibles from around the world and installed electric lights and the first elevator in town.

The resort did well for a few years, especially during the Spanish-American War. With Plant's death in 1899, the hotel's fortunes began to fade. It closed in 1930.

Ybor City, Historic District
In 1933 the stately building reopened as the University of Tampa.

Mainly because of Henry Plant's connections in the War Department, Tampa was chosen as an embarkation center for American troops in the Spanish-American War. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were among the 30,000 troops who waited in Tampa for the order to ship out to Cuba during the summer of 1898, filling the town.

The founding of Ybor City, the building of Plant's railroad and hotels, and the discovery of phosphate - all within a dozen years in the late 1800s - were crucial to Tampa's development. The town expanded from a village to bustling town to small city.

Beginning in the late 1800s, illegal bolita lotteries were very popular among the Tampa working classes, especially in Ybor City.

Columbia resturant in Ybor City. Awesome spanish food.
In the early 1920s, this small-time operation was taken over by Charlie Wall, the rebellious son of a prominent Tampa family, and went big-time. Bolita was able to openly thrive only because of kick-backs and bribes to key local politicians and law enforcement officials, and many were on the take.

Profits from the bolita lotteries and Prohibition-era bootlegging led to the development of several organized crime factions in the city. Charlie Wall was the first major boss, but various power struggles culminated in consolidation of control by Sicilian mafioso Santo Trafficante, Sr. and his faction in the 1950s. After his death in 1954 from cancer, control passed to his son Santo Trafficante, Jr., who established alliances with families in New York and extended his power throughout Florida and into Batista-era Cuba.

The era of rampant and open corruption ended in the 1950s, when the Senator Kefauver's traveling organized crime hearings came to town and were followed by the sensational misconduct trials of several local officials. Although many of the worst offenders in government and the mob were not charged, the trials helped to end the sense of lawlessness which had prevailed in Tampa for decades.

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Welcome to Tampa
Welcome to Tampa
Downtown Tampa seen from Davis Isl…
Downtown Tampa seen from Davis Is…
Tampa's Trolley, It runs between …
Ybor City, Historic District
Ybor City, Historic District
Columbia resturant in Ybor City. A…
Columbia resturant in Ybor City. …
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
Tampa at night
Tampa at night
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
Downtown Tampa seen from Bayshore …
Downtown Tampa seen from Bayshore…
Convention Center
Convention Center
Museum of Art
Museum of Art
Downtown Tampa seen from Davis Isl…
Downtown Tampa seen from Davis Is…
Bayshore Blvd.
Bayshore Blvd.
Tampa Union Station
Tampa Union Station
Tampa Union Station
Tampa Union Station
Train station
Train station
The Tropicana Cafe, Best cuban sa…
The Tropicana Cafe', Best cuban s…
Ybor City, Historic District
Ybor City, Historic District
Street car
Street car
Channelside District, Stumps Suppe…
Channelside District, Stumps Supp…
Channelside IMAX theater
Channelside IMAX theater
Channelside, Banana Joes Club
Channelside, Banana Joe's Club
Jose Gasparilla Pirate ship
Jose' Gasparilla Pirate ship
Pirate Ship
Pirate Ship
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Raymond James Stadium, Home of the…
Raymond James Stadium, Home of th…
Raymond James Stadium, Home of the…
Raymond James Stadium, Home of th…
Raymond James Stadium, Home of the…
Raymond James Stadium, Home of th…
Raymond James Stadium, Home of the…
Raymond James Stadium, Home of th…
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
IKEA Tampa
Tampabay Performing Arts Center
Tampabay Performing Arts Center
Tampa Public Library
Tampa Public Library
Tampabay Performing Arts Center
Tampabay Performing Arts Center
Tampabay Performing Arts Center
Tampabay Performing Arts Center
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
University of Tampa
Kennedy Avenue Bridge
Kennedy Avenue Bridge
Kennedy Avenue Bridge
Kennedy Avenue Bridge
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
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Tampa Hilton Hotel
Tampa Hilton Hotel
Tampa Police Station
Tampa Police Station
Tampa Police Station
Tampa Police Station
Tampa Police Station
Tampa Police Station
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Police Memorial
Tampa Fire Department
Tampa Fire Department
Tampa Fire Department
Tampa Fire Department
Tampa Fire Department
Tampa Fire Department
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
The old Kress Department Store
The old Kress Department Store
The old Kress Department Store
The old Kress Department Store
13th Judical Circuit Court
13th Judical Circuit Court
13th Judical Circuit Court
13th Judical Circuit Court
Downtown Tampa
Downtown Tampa
Ybor City
Ybor City
Ybor City
Ybor City
Ybor City
Ybor City
Ybor City - Jamacain Restaurant
Ybor City - Jamacain Restaurant
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
Ybor City - 7th Avenue
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photo by: ejames01