Turn-of-the-century cigar factory in Ybor City. Courtesy: Special Collections Library, University of South Florida
Ybor City Historical Site
In spasms of prosperity and bust, immigration and
Americanization, New Age punk and Old World spunk, Ybor City, a
colorful section of the City of Tampa, has fluctuated wildly from
the years of revolution and labor unrest in the 1890s to decades of
war and out-migration in the 1940s to urban renewal and decline in
the 70s, to a burst of revitalization in the 90s. Change is the
only constant in Ybor City history.
The founding of Ybor City in 1885 signaled a new era
for Tampa. The infusion of capital and labor into Tampa's
slumbering economy following the opening of the railroad in 1884
galvanized the city. In particular, Cuban cigar makers served in
the vanguard of the great trek to Ybor City; over 3,000 Cubans had
settled in Ybor City by 1900, making Ybor City synonymous with the
finest Cuban cigars.
The Great Depression eroded Ybor City's hold on the
premium cigar trade, and saw the Americanization of the children of
immigrants. World War II marked the watershed of Ybor City. When
hundreds of young Latin Americans returned from military service,
they abandoned Ybor City and used their G.I. Bill benefits to move
into the new suburbs of West Tampa. As the Latinos moved out,
African-Americans moved in. Ybor City became a case study of
turbulent urban renewal. Nearly 1,000 families were displaced
during a massive urban renewal in the 1960s, and Ybor City
continued to languish during the 70s. But an influx of investment
capital during the past two decades has spurred rehabilitation of
old buildings. Today Ybor City has become Tampa Bay's great public
space. Project documentation includes a report and photographs.
Originally submitted by: Jim Davis, Representative (11th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.