Ybor City: History Made Fun

Ybor City: History Made Fun

Ybor City: History Made Fun

By Kai Rambow

 

Did you know that: (1) Tampa’s population exploded from 700 to over 7,000 in a year; (2) Tampa was the cigar capital of the world; (3) Tampa was the first place with universal health care? It all started in Ybor City, and you can learn all kinds of things presented in a fun way on a walking tour.

“This is my hometown. It’s so much fun to learn about Tampa’s history,” commented one woman on the tour. A little later, two men debated what was worse in the beginning: the alligators, mosquitos, or heat and humidity. A walking tour, led by Max Herman, was engaging, entertaining and fun.

Vincente Martinez-Ybor transformed Tampa into a real town. Herman has the ability to share history in a fun way. Facts are only important to help the story of Ybor City/Tampa. The stories on tour kept everyone paying attention. While experienced Cubans came here to work, so too did Italians, Germans, and other immigrant groups. Each group built their own social halls (part of the tour) to celebrate and maintain cultural traditions. These social groups also created the first universal health for their members.

 

Background Preparation

A great way to start your tour is a quick visit to the state museum. A short video provides a great overview of Ybor City’s development. Displays in the museum highlight important milestones, complete with historic pictures. This is a great way to get a foundation before taking the tour. Unfortunately, the casita showing original homes in Ybor, is currently unavailable to visitors.

 

The Columbia Restaurant

After the tour, you’ll be hungry. You can continue the history by eating at the 110 year old Columbia restaurant. Cuban bread and the sandwich were invented in Ybor. Their Cuban sandwich is unique because it has salami (remember the Italian immigrants) making a hearty meal. It is the original.  You can order the half-and-half special. You might want to try their famous 1905 salad (created in the 1970s) and Cuban sandwich. Incidentally, the Cuban bread comes from La Segunda Bakery, also in Ybor, and 100 years old.

 Tips: You might want to drive from the garage (see itinerary and parking below) to here as it is a few blocks away.  There is plenty of parking in the back. Be sure to look at the beautiful Spanish tiles on the front of the building. 

 

Cuban Cigars Still Made Here

Tabanero Cigars loves having visitors, even if you don’t smoke. I am not a smoker, but I do know which end of the cigar to dip in brandy. Since Tabanero is a boutique cigar store you can see everything up close, and you are welcome to take pictures.  There is a coffee bar towards the back with great Cuban coffee. 

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Suggested Itinerary:  Arrive at 9 and visit the state museum park. Move car to parking garage around 10:30 a.m. Stop by Tabanero Cigars take some pictures and have a Cuban coffee. Walk across the street and take the historic walking tour with Max (be sure to make reservations) at 11 a.m. After tour head to the Columbia for lunch.

What to Wear: Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen ,and sunglasses are important. Be sure to take a bottle of water with you as well. Note: Herman knows all the shady spots to stop while on tour. 

Where to Park: Street parking is only good for two hours. If you park in the garage on 15th Street, you won’t need to worry about time and it’s only one dollar per hour. From the garage it is a short walk to the meeting spot for the tour.

Ybor City Historic Walking Tours

Max Herman

(813) 505-6779

www.YborWalkingTours.com

Ybor City State Museum

1818 E 9th Avenue

Wednesdays-Sundays; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Columbia Restaurant

2117 E. 7th Avenue

Tampa, Florida  33605

(813)  248-4961

www.columbiarestaurant.com

Tabanero Cigars

(Cuban coffee)

1601 E. 7th Avenue

Tampa, Florida  33605

(813) 402-6316

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On a warm and sunny Saturday, August 28, the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce held its “Out-of-the-Ordinary” Annual Fall Business Expo Drive Thru in the parking lot of the Prince of Peace Catholic Church, promoting 40 Chamber members and greeting a continuous line of people in their cars and golf carts.

Executive Director Lynne Conlon estimates that as many as 800 residents drove by the tables and picked up “Goodie Bags” containing promotional material. A random selection of the bags contained surprises including gift cards. In keeping with the times we live in, no one had to leave their vehicles.

Viki Ryan and Chuckie B. of the Sunset Social Club added musical flair.

“For years,” Conlon stated in an email, “We have had two expos each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Our spring event went off in March at Community Hall. Then COVID-19 hit and Community Hall was closed. So, we had to pivot to reimagine how this event would be done. One-to-one contact between our members and residents became a drive-thru. We are looking at the rest of the year to see how we reimagine the rest of our events.”

Conlon thanked participating members as well as the Prince of Peace Catholic Church for its generosity in providing a great location for the event, which the Chamber has traditionally held in Community Hall. Also she thanked the Sunset Social Club for providing live music. “But above all, we thank the residents who drove through” in support of local businesses. “We are better together,” she concluded.

 

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad”

“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

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A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

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The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

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For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

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will come together to celebrate the season with festive and creative holiday carts. The parade route begins on N. Pebble Beach Boulevard, near the SCCCA offices, and runs around La Jolla Avenue, before coming back up Cherry Hills Drive to end by the gazebo.

 

*News file photo by John Wakeman

“Thanks, Dad”

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“Thanks, Dad” By E. Adam Porter Editor, News of SCC & South County There’s a picture on canvas, hanging over the stairwell to my bedroom. When I see it, I think, man, I look tired. And then I smile. Not because I look soggy, bedraggled, and...

A Groundbreaking Event

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A Groundbreaking EventBy Cathy Meyerhoff, SCC History Society Though May 10, 1961 may not ring any bells with most local residents, it is important.  On that day ground was broken for the retirement community of Sun City Center. Nothing is recorded about...

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The Sun City Center Audubon Society celebrated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the SCC Community Association’s West Campus Nature Trails. The weather cooperated beautifully with clear skies, a light breeze, low humidity and temperatures in...

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For the Birds?Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai RambowSome information courtesy SCC History Society  When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic,...

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Inspiring Our Future Leaders By Thomas D Hart, MOWW Sun City Center Chapter A  group of excited and curious students showed up at the Plaza Club in Sun City Center to attend a Youth Leadership Seminar.  Eight different high schools in Hillsborough...

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In this issue… Celebrate Earth Day, enjoy local wildlife, get updates on the upcoming Entertainment Series, learn about a benefit event for local pets, go back in time to a wacky and wonderful rendition of the Renaissance, experience turning...