Florida – Day 9, February 12 (part 2) – Ybor City

Ybor City was really the start of Tampa. Founded in the 1880’s by a cigar manufacturer nambed Vincente Martinez Ybor.

You can read more about it at Wikipedia:

Ybor City (/iːbɔ̹r/) is a historic neighborhood in Tampa, Florida located just northeast of downtown. It was founded in the 1880s bycigar manufacturers and was populated by thousands of immigrants, mainly from SpainCuba, and Italy. For the next 50 years, workers in Ybor City’s cigar factories would roll millions of cigars annually.
Unfortunately, the area saw great declines in population during the Depression and WWII, leaving many buildings abandoned. In the 1970’s Tampa and the federal government decided “renovation” was in order. Inexplicably, their idea of renovation involved dynamite and the wrecking ball, and many of the historic buildings were destroyed. Locals got together and a push was made to create a Historic District, so the rest of the area was saved.The Ybor City Museum is a small museum which documents the history of the area with plenty of great period photos and a nicely done film. At $4 a person, it’s definitely within our parameters of “cheap entertainment”.

We enjoyed an hour or so here, reading about history and basically waiting until it was warm enough outside so we could wander around without freezing to death.

The museum also included some original worker housing, one of which is open and also has artifacts from the era:

We usually spend more time at museums no matter what they cover, but tobacco and cigar production are decently low on my list of “interests”. I really hate the smell of the things, my asthma doesn’t appreciate them either, and I’ve lost a decent chunk of my family and friends to lung cancer….so, this one was a hard sell for me. That said, I realize I can’t look at yesterday’s pastimes through today’s eyes, and it is a very well-designed space, worthy of a visit if you’re in the area.

Ybor City now is a conglomeration of vintage buildings, the occasional homeless person, a cool city trolley system, brick streets, tons of bars and nightclubs, head shops, and some very awesome vintage clothing stores. I can imagine walking through this place at night would be a vastly different experience than what we’re enjoying at noon on a Sunday.

Old and new play well together here. The newer buildings have been able to keep a similar feel to the originals, without going all “Victorian Cute” on the place.

I thought this was especially appropriate for my Trip Report

This is from one of the awesome vintage clothing stores which did a great job of melding authentic old with new stuff that has a vintage feel. I am not a shopper, I worked retail for years and I used to love fashion, now I loathe spending time in stores (sorry, I know I am very strange, please don’t hate me!). Anyway, vintage clothing was a major part of my life when I was younger, and I would have killed to have a store like this nearby.

Back out on the street, Mike does a little “over the shoulder” peek to see what’s in the news:

Even though it’s near 1pm, the wind is still cold, and we’re keeping all our layers on.

We hear a rooster crow. Well, that’s not something you’d expect to hear in the middle of a city, so we go searching and find these guys:

I’m thinking they’re a holdover from the Cuban emigrants, but I could be wrong. I’m sure there’s a story here somewhere!

One last view of Ybor, and we’re off to the Plant Museum (not about plants).


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