Ybor City Tampa
In 1895, three immigrant businessmen had a vision of creating a new cigar manufacturing city in Tampa, Florida, so they purchased swampy alligator and mosquito-infested land and began building what was one day to become known as Cigar City, the cigar capital of the world.
Immigrants who flocked to this new cigar town were skilled workers in their craft and came here from Cuba, Spain, Sicily, and all parts of Europe. Some came to roll the handmade cigars, some came to manufacturer the cigar boxes, and others came to open shops and markets to support the scores of immigrants who were arriving daily.
Ybor and its residents continued to prosper throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s and their lives revolved around their work, their families, and their social clubs. These clubs were formed in part out of necessity for a means of group healthcare and burial expenses, but the clubs also served as a social meeting place with dances and multi-cultural entertainment. The city was of diverse ethnic cultures, and nowhere was that more apparent than the restaurants that opened to satisfy the immigrant workers’ different culinary tastes.
But soon, the depression touched the Cigar Capital and that combined with the growing popularity of cigarettes and the introduction of cheaper machine-made cigars, Ybor went into decline. By the end of World War II, factories were shutting down, and workers were moving on, and by the 1970s, the once-thriving city now had the appearance of being all but abandoned.
Starting in the 1980s and still ongoing today, a preservation and revitalization project of epic proportions began rebuilding the historic landmark city back to its original design. Painstakingly detailed restoration work began turning the deteriorated brick shops and cigar factories back into working factories, craft breweries, restaurants, pubs, shops, and other entertainment establishments. The brick city streets have been restored, and a streetcar system put in place replicates the streetcar of the city’s glorious past. Once again, the streets are lined with restaurants and cafes sure to please whatever ethnic delight you are craving. And Yes, cigars, of course, there are cigars.
History has now become vogue in this unique landmark city, and Ybor City is absolutely a place that you should put on your Florida Travel list. Click to Learn More about historic Ybor, things to do, and good times to be had.
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