HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (2024)

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (1)

THE LATIN QUARTER TURNS FROM CIGARS TO ENTERTAINMENT

For more information on Ybor City visit: THE YBOR CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE; and CENTRO YBOR


Tampa's historic Latin Quarter, YBORCITY, covers two hundred acres onemile northeast of downtown Tampa.Despite the decline of the cigar industry after 1920 and vast urban renewaldestruction in the 1960's, there's enough of the buildings and atmosphere ofVicente Martinez Ybor's multiethnic manufacturingtown, the first in the South, to interest visitors of all ages. I taught in Ybor City for 35 years and can report that most crime activities take place very late at night with people who have spent too much time drinking and flashing money. You will find PARKING SPACES behind many Seventh Avenue stores and at the big garages two blocks south of Ybor Centro and one block west of Ybor Square, once the land's largest cigar factory, then a shopping mall, and now owned by the Church of Scientology..

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (2)

In recent years there has been a tremendousrevival of development along YborCity's colorful main artery,

SEVENTH AVENUE
, as new restaurants,stores, nightclubs, and art galleries have returned Ybor Cityto its original status as the nighttime entertainment center of the FloridaWest Coast. I taught history at the Ybor Campus of Hillsborough Community College when it opened and selected a classroom which looked out at three historic structures I put on the State List when I worked as project historian for Florida.

HOW TO GET THERE: Iftraveling west of I-4 to Tampa,take Exit 1 on Interstate 4 and cross the first traffic light at

22nd Street
, then turn left (southward)on
21st Street
. If traveling east on I-4,take Exit 1 and turn right on
21st Street
. Seventh Avenue is sixth blocks south of the Interstate.

THE HISTORIC TOUR: Limited parking is available along Seventh Avenue while large off-street public parking is noted on the Ybor City Map. Visitors may wish to drive this tourselecting places to visit and stop only when interested. Parking garages areon

9th Avenue
&
13th Street
and at
6th Avenue
and
15th Street
. Don't be shocked to see roosters running across less busy streets in Ybor for they are legal here. And don't bother them or they get mad.

If youare at

7th Avenue
and 21st,you see the:

(1) COLUMBIA RESTAURANT (1905), (813-248-4961)

2117 7th Avenue, Florida
'soldest restaurant, and with 1200 seats spread across a dozen rooms, one of theworld's largest. Founded by Casimire Hernandez afterthe song :"Columbia,Gem of the Ocean", the restaurant merits a visit just to see the 1936 Don Quizote Room with its scenes by Sergio de Meza or thetwo-storied courtyard. The original cafe started on the
22nd Street
corner and the restaurantexpanded

TURN RIGHT ON

7TH AVENUE
. If its morning, you might start to smell Cubancoffee being made at Naviera Coffee Mills in theblock that contains on the right the: (2) COLUMBIA BANK (1918),
2018 7th Avenue
, founded by John Grimali. A plaque on the sidewalk, one of many walkers willnote on this route, honors Tampa's Italian population, most of whom wereSicilians who came to Florida originally for farm work, but who became cigarmakers and merchants

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (3)

On the next block on the left at

1901 7th Avenue
, is the (3) SCOZZARIBUILDING (1893), an early brick structure designed by Pietra and Jose Scozzari Ithoused the original La Tropicana Restaurant and the Bank of YborCity. Across the street is the new (4) LA TROPICANA,
1822 7th Avenue
,(813-247-4041) notable as an important Tampa political hangout and Cuban sandwiches. Next door is the long-operatingCARMINES (Italian( (813-248-3834)..More blue collar was the (5) SILVER RING SANDWICH SHOP;at
was at 1831 7th Avenue
, a culinary landmark forthe Cuban sandwich's popularity across Tampa..

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (4)HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (5)

TURNRIGHT ON

18TH STREET
AND GO TWO BLOCKS past CentennialPlaza and the Ybor CityFarmers Market. You may wish to stop to examine the wonderful 1992 statuehonoring Ybor City's immigrantpopulation. Look for the statue of my friend TONY PIZZO, the man responsible for creating the firstarchitectural review area in Florida andsaving Ybor City in the 1940s and1950s.On the northern side of thePlaza is the:

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (6)HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (7)

(6) YBOR CITY STATE MUSEUM,

1818 9th Avenue
, housed in the 1926 Ferlita Bakery.The admission price is small but there is more to see with the plaza andhistoric cigar workers cottages.

RETURN TO SEVENTH AVENUE BY 18th STREET and turn right, just before the:

(7) L'UNIONE ITALIANA (1917),

1725 7th Avenue
, the three-story ItalianRenaissance clubhouse started in 1897. Like many ethnic clubs, the basem*nthoused the canteen, the middle floors had offices anda library, while the top floor has a ballroom. You might recognize the edificeas the hotel in the movie Long Gone.

Across the street is a diversity ofbusinesses including (8) EL SOL CIGARS,

1728 7th Avenue
, oldest of Ybor City's cigar stores.If it is closed, look for the cigar maker atthe shop next to the Columbia.

The 1600 block contains several of Ybor City's older structures:The (9) BALDOMERO F. MARCOS BUILDING (1912),

1610 7th Avenue
, designed by KennethKennard, featured the area's first light well system. Across the street at
1602 7th Avenue
is the (10) GAVINO GUTIERREZBUILDING (1904), built by theSpanish-born engineer who convinced Vicente Martinez Yborto bring the cigar industry to Tampa from Key West. The Dixie Hotelwas once upstairs and Buffalo Bill's cousin ran the PatheTheater downstairs.

On the south side of the 1500 block isanother Kennard building, the (11) FRANCISCO MAYO BUILDING(1912),

1517 7th Avenue
,constructed for cigar manufacturers Serafin Sanchezand Ignacio Haya to house the Spanish Theater.

Across the street is the huge (12) CENTROESPANOL (1912),

1526 7th Avenue
, saved from destruction by the State of Florida. The Spanishclub is now part of the giant CENTRO YBOR entertainment complex which hasa comedy club, restaurants, and a Gameworks over on
9th Avenue
.The club canteen is now a store, but the upstairsballroom houses a interesting steak restaurant and the theatre as a comedy club. Tourthe club to get the feel of its origins as a clubhouse for the Spanish community of the Cigar Era.

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (8)HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (9)

At the end of the block on the left is the(13) RITZ THEATER (1928),

1502 7th Avenue
, once a movie house withan interior resembling a Spanish plaza. A popular showplace now houses thisspot where once stood Ybor City'sfirst factory, the 1886 Sanchez & Haya Factory.

BEFORE TURNING RIGHT ON 15TH STREET, admire the corner tower of: (14) LAS NOVEDADEZRESTAURANT (building) (1892), 1430 7th Avenue, site of a long-timerestaurant, where during the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt's RoughRiders rode in to eat on their horses. It is said the Cuba Libre(rum and co*ke) was created here.

GOUP

15TH STREET
AND TURN RIGHT ON
8TH AVENUE
, in front of the brick King-Greco Hardware buildingwhere three-time Tampamayor Dick Greco lived. Next door is the: (15) LLANO BUILDING(1903),
1514 8th Avenue
, built by Antonio de Rioand still maintaining its iron and wood balcony. Tony Pizzo,Ybor City's favorite historian and author of Tampa Town,started his business career here.

The building next to the hardware storeonce housed the Creatures of Delight, T. Oliver Kopian'sinfamous creatures made of special plastic into book bags and playthings. Mostof Ybor's Seventh Avenuebuildings have been converted into nightclubs and restaurants, but many sidestreets still house artisans and unusual shops.

TURNLEFT ON

17th STREET
AND THEN LEFT ON
9TH AVENUE
. The unusualstructure on your left is the: (16) YBOR CITY LABOR TEMPLE (1930), a castle-likemeeting place for labor unions, now a restaurant/club.This place once was a site of several muders, rather interesting since it is next to HCC Police Academy and Fire Science Center.

CROSS 15TH STREET alongside the Ybor CityCampus of Hillsborough Community College where yours truly opened his history "shop" in 1974. You may wish to park in the

Ybor Square
parking center one block further on the left for this corner has several notablesites. On your right is the:

(17) EL PASAJE (CHEROKEE CLUB)(1896), 1318 9th Avenue, the arcaded Italian Renaissance men's club set up by Ybor's business partner Edward Manrara.The second floor ballroom was the spot where politicians for fifty yearsannounced their candidacy for Governor. The last Mayor of West Tampa turnedover the keys to that Latin town to the City of Tampa.

Next door is the (18) CUBAN CLUB(1916), 2010 (14th) Avenida Republicade Cuba, a four-story edifice. This was the site of much revolutionary activityin the 1890's.

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (10)

At 1915 14th Avenue is the hidden brick-made(19) YBOR CITY LAND & DEVELOPMENT BUILDING(1893), once headquarters of Edward Manrara's realestate empire and later the Gonzalez Clinic where many important Tampans were born.Once it was a stylish bed and breakfast and as an office building I am tempted to at least enter thelobby to see what it looks like.

Across the street is Ybor City'smost famous structure, the massive (20) YBOR FACTORY (

YBOR SQUARE
) (1886), the city'soldest brick building and once the largest cigar factory in the United States.On the East side is the historic Jose Marti steps where Cuban Revolutionaryleader promoted money and manpower for Cuban independence. Just inside thesedoors on the left was Vicenete Martinez Ybor's first Ybor Cityoffice. It is now owned by the Church of Scientology and all the stores and restaurants are gone. You can still walk around the massive building.

The complex consists of three buildings: the(20A) YBOR FACTORY, a three-story brick building nowhousing training classrooms.. The (20B) STEMMERY BUILDING(1902), on the southeast corner of the block, was the StachelbergCigar factory.

The (20C) WAREHOUSE BUILDING(1920) once contained the popular Spaghetti Warehouse. Note the railroad trackremains in the courtyard and the roof top cupola, perfect for watching thestatus of tobacco ships in the nearby Port of Tampa.

To the south of YborSquare is (21) JOSE MARTI PARK, 1303 8th Avenue, containing alife-size statue of Jose Marti, is located on the site of the home of famousAfro-Cuban patriot Paulina Pedrosa,Marti's residence in Ybor City. In the backyard here,Marti forgave the Spanish spy who tried to poison him. Appropriately at nearby1226 7th Avenue, is the (22) UNION MARTI-MACEO, the club formedin the 1890's to serve Ybor City's Afro-Cubanpopulation.

Ybor Cityhistoric districts extends four blocks west on

Palm Avenue
to take in the CENTRO ASTURIANO CLUB, with its gtreat stage and basem*nt cafe, and the GERMAN-AMERICAN CLUB BUILDING,now a city center.

HISTORIC TOUR OF DOWNTOWN YBOR CITY, Tampa (2024)
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