Exploring Tampa's Ybor City


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October 21st 2018
Published: June 26th 2019
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Tampa's Ybor CityTampa's Ybor CityTampa's Ybor City

Tampa's Ybor City. Seventh Avenue at 19th Street. Wrought iron balconies were a feature of many newly built Ybor City brick buildings of the 1920s, reflecting styles found in Cuba and Spain. IMG_6406
Ybor City is the old cigar making neighborhood of Tampa. In recent years Ybor City has undergone a revitalization and is a destination to enjoy the cuisines of the immigrants who worked here and roam the old buildings that made it a community. People from Cuba, Italy and Spain came here to find work in the cigar factories.

Our exploration of Ybor City began with dinner on Sunday evening at the Columbia Restaurant. The restaurant, a fixture in Ybor City, was founded it in 1905 as a corner bar and coffee shop and expanded by the 1930s into the present-day establishment. The distinctive exterior of Columbia Restaurant is covered in colorful tiles. It features Cuban cuisine, and so our introduction to Cuba began. I enjoyed the Boliche Criollo (roasted beef stuffed with chorizo).

Monday morning we returned to Ybor City. All was quiet now. On our after dinner drive around the area the previous evening, there was great activity, with people enjoying the many bars, restaurants and club along 7th Avenue. I had a list of Ybor City buildings on the National Register of Historic Places to see. They center around José Martí Park on the western end of
Ybor Factory ComplexYbor Factory ComplexYbor Factory Complex

Ybor Factory Complex. Operated as: Ybor-Manrara Cigar Factory (1886-1899); American Cigar Company (1901-1954); Hav-A-Tampa (1955-1972). "The significance of the cigar industry to Tampa and Ybor City can be illustrated by no building better than the red brick Ybor Factory Complex, which occupies almost the entire block between 8th and 9th Avenues and 13th and 14th Streets. The interconnected complex, the oldest in Ybor City, consists of two 3-story factories and a 2-story warehouse". DSC_0652
Ybor City. Several of the historic buildings, including the park itself, were undergoing renovation. But there was much to see on our walk around the vicinity.

Central to Ybor City is the Ybor Factory Complex. The cigar factory operated as: Ybor-Manrara Cigar Factory (1886-1899); American Cigar Company (1901-1954); and Hava-A-Tampa (1955-1972). (Today, it is the Church of Scientology headquarters in Tampa.) Cigar making was brought to Tampa by Vicente Martinez Ybor in 1885. He had been in the cigar business in Cuba and moved operations to Key West, Florida, in 1869 during the Ten Years War of Cuban independence. By 1885 he had relocated his business again, to Tampa. Other cigar manufacturers followed suit and Ybor City became a home for Cuban, Italian and Spanish immigrants in the South. The presence of these immigrants can by seen by the long-established social clubs that serve as centers of their communities. We saw the L'Unione Italiana (the Italian club) and El Circulo Cubano (the Cuban club). Both are housed in imposing buildings opened in 1918 and 1917, respectively. In front of the Cuban club is a bust of José Martí. A plaque commemorating Martí's 1893 address on Cuban independence to the
Entrance to the Ybor Factory ComplexEntrance to the Ybor Factory ComplexEntrance to the Ybor Factory Complex

Entrance to the Ybor Factory Complex. Operated as: Ybor-Manrara Cigar Factory (1886-1899); American Cigar Company (1901-1954); Hav-A-Tampa (1955-1972). DSC_0658
Cuban cigar workers appears in front of the cigar factory building.

After taking in more of Ybor City, we went back to the Columbia Restaurant gift shop to do some pre-cruise shopping. They have great array of ceramics, coffee, kitchen accessories and cigars for the visitor or as gifts.

Ybor City is connected to Channelside, the port area of Tampa, and downtown Tampa by TECO Line streetcars (trams).


Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


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Ybor Factory ComplexYbor Factory Complex
Ybor Factory Complex

Ybor Factory Complex. Operated as: Ybor-Manrara Cigar Factory (1886-1899); American Cigar Company (1901-1954); Hav-A-Tampa (1955-1972). IMG_6411
Monument to José MartíMonument to José Martí
Monument to José Martí

Monument to José Martí in front of the Ybor Factory Building. José Martí addressed the Cuban cigar workers of Ybor City in support of Cuban independence at the entrance to the factory in 1893. DSC_0659p1
Cigar Industry in Tampa Historical MarkerCigar Industry in Tampa Historical Marker
Cigar Industry in Tampa Historical Marker

Cigar Industry in Tampa historical marker at the Ybor Factory Complex. DSC_0656
La Casa Manrara (Gonzalez Clinic)La Casa Manrara (Gonzalez Clinic)
La Casa Manrara (Gonzalez Clinic)

La Casa Manrara (Gonzalez Clinic). "This 2-story commercial edifice dates to 1901, but was extensively remodeled in Mediterranean Revival style in 1930. First called La Casa Manrara in honor of Edward Manrara, Ybor's principal financial advisor, the building, directly east of the Ybor Factory complex, on the southeast corner of 14th Street and 9th Avenue, housed the offices of their Ybor Land and Improvement Company. El Bien Publico, a hospital and clinic, was the principal early occupant, beginning in 1903. From 1939 until 1983, the building housed the clinic of Dr. A. A. Gonzalez." IMG_6410
El Pasaje Hotel (Cherokee Club)El Pasaje Hotel (Cherokee Club)
El Pasaje Hotel (Cherokee Club)

El Pasaje Hotel (Cherokee Club). "Ybor City's best known commercial building is the El Pasaje Hotel, situated a short distance north of the Ybor Factory complex, on the northwest corner of 14th Street and 9th Avenue. Vincente M. Ybor and Eduardo Manrara erected it in 1895 to house the Cherokee Club, a somewhat exclusive social organization for men..." DSC_0664
El Circulo Cubano.El Circulo Cubano.
El Circulo Cubano.

El Circulo Cubano. "In 1902, the Cuban population of Ybor City organized El Circulo Cubano. choosing this name because the founders sat in a circle when meeting to establish it. In 1917 the present 4-story, yellow brick, Beaux Arts edifice was completed on the southwest corner of 7th Avenue and 14th Street". IMG_6412
Bust of José Martí Bust of José Martí
Bust of José Martí

Bust of José Martí next to El Circulo Cubano. José Martí (1853-1895) was the symbol of Cuba's movement for independence against Spain in the late 19th century, and is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence". DSC_0669p1
Centro YborCentro Ybor
Centro Ybor

Centro Ybor shopping complex. IMG_6407
Columbia RestaurantColumbia Restaurant
Columbia Restaurant

Columbia Restaurant. Featuring Cuban and Spanish cuisine. "The Columbia Restaurant is Ybor City's most famous and oldest continuously operating eating establishment. Casimirio Hernandez founded it in 1905 as a corner bar and coffee shop, still intact within the restaurant. Later he added a dining room and other facilities, and by the 1930s the restaurant had taken on its present dimensions. ... Occupying an entire block, the restaurant consists of a 2-story center section and adjoining 1-story wings. This masonry edifice shows the combined influences of Spanish and Moorish architecture". IMG_6377
El Patio Decorative Tile WorkEl Patio Decorative Tile Work
El Patio Decorative Tile Work

Columbia Restaurant. El Patio decorative tile work. "Its most notable exterior feature, dating to 1963, is a delicate partially latticed arcade capped with a red tile roof which covers the sidewalks around the 1-story sections. Exterior wall ornamentation is provided by numerous inlaid color tiles at ground level and around window and door openings. The tiles depict flowers, animals, and scenes from Spanish history, as well as cartouches and heraldic devices." IMG_6379
Columbia Restaurant tile signColumbia Restaurant tile sign
Columbia Restaurant tile sign

Columbia Restaurant tile sign. "Exterior wall ornamentation is provided by numerous inlaid color tiles at ground level and around window and door openings IMG_6381
Boliche CriolloBoliche Criollo
Boliche Criollo

Boliche Criollo served at Columbia Restaurant. (Roasted beef stuffed with chorizo.) IMG_6391
Columbia Restaurant Historical MarkerColumbia Restaurant Historical Marker
Columbia Restaurant Historical Marker

Columbia Restaurant Historical Marker, Ybor City. IMG_6380
Columbia Restaurant Decorative Tile Work.Columbia Restaurant Decorative Tile Work.
Columbia Restaurant Decorative Tile Work.

Columbia Restaurant decorative tile work. "Exterior wall ornamentation is provided by numerous inlaid color tiles at ground level and around window and door openings. The tiles depict flowers, animals, and scenes from Spanish history, as well as cartouches and heraldic devices". IMG_6419
Tile Work on the S.N. Reina BuildingTile Work on the S.N. Reina Building
Tile Work on the S.N. Reina Building

Tile work on the S.N. Reina Building. The building is now an annex of the Columbia Restaurant across the street. IMG_6416
TECO Line StreetcarTECO Line Streetcar
TECO Line Streetcar

TECO Line streetcar (tram) 436 at Ybor City. The car is a modern reproduction of a 1940s Birney design. IMG_6413


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