John and I have found that if you really want to be entertained while you are learning a little history of a city that you are visiting, then take a ghost tour where you will get not only the history book stuff, but you will also get the fascinating and juicy history of a city.
John and I have visited Ybor City before on our Florida journey, but on this Friday, the 13th visit no less, we decided to take a tour of its ghostly past and learn about some of the more checkered histories of this old historic district.
When Vicente-Martinez Ybor arrived in Tampa from Cuba to establish his cigar manufacturing community, back in the 1880s, the city’s population was just around 750 people, and even before prohibition, alcohol consumption was illegal, as was gambling. Mr. Ybor knew that if he wanted to attract the skilled cigar workers needed from Cuba, that also happened to enjoy good drink and gambling, he would need the laws changed. A deal was struck, and Vicente-Martinez Ybor was sold mosquito and alligator-infested swampland just northeast of Downtown Tampa that would later be named Ybor City. Here he would be able to have his own city with separate laws. This new city would have its own mayor and police force too, where no City of Tampa police officer would be able to make an arrest.
Ybor began building his city, and it thrived as immigrants flocked there by the thousands, and soon Ybor City became the Cigar Manufacturing Capitol of the world. But with its own laws, mayor and police force, enter in corruption, the arrival of the mafia, brothels, and murder, all setting the stage for our ghostly adventure through Ybor City today.
A city this rich in history with undertones of corruption, mystery, and untimely deaths, has many stories and secrets to tell. I will not be a spoiler and tell you the stories, just in case you want to experience the tour for yourself firsthand, but what I will tell you is that I, myself, did have a pretty creepy encounter on the tour that I can’t explain. It happened in the Cuban Club, a building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also happens to be on the list of one of the most haunted places in the United States.
John and I have taken many ghost tours, and as I said before, we find it a very entertaining way to learn about a city’s past, and it really gives great insight into how people lived all those years ago. Because of all the ghost tours we have taken over the years, we think we are a pretty good judge of their quality, and I can tell you without any doubt that this one is one of the best we have taken thus far. But don’t take our word for it, have a ghostly encounter of your own at Ybor City Ghost Tours.
The tour lasts about 90 + minutes and is not recommended for young children. The cost per person at the time we took our tour was $25.
To learn a little more about Ybor City, please read our previous posts on this historic entertainment district of Tampa.
- Ybor City – Lookin for Chicks?
- Art Booze & Cigars – The ABC’s of Ybor City
- Cigar City, Havan-a Good Time
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