Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ybor City in Tampa, Florida

Ybor City in Tampa.  This pic is near the center of the old plaza of the old Ybor City.  Never heard of Ybor City?  We didn't either till the folks back at the Dade Battlefield Park mentioned it to us.  So, what is Ybor City? 
From Wiki:  Ybor City (EE-bor) is a historic neighborhood in Tampa,FL located just northeast of downtown. It was founded in the 1880s by cigar manufacturers and was populated by thousands of immigrants, mainly from Spain, Cuba, and Italy. For the next 50 years, workers in Ybor City's cigar factories would roll millions of cigars annually.
Nancy & I took a little Saturday morning trip into the city to look at the sights & maybe get a fresh rolled cigar perhaps in one of the factories.  It is an old but quaint little section of greater Tampa.  Many of the old buildings have been restored and the city within a city attracts quite a few folks.  It has a New Orleans flair but on a much smaller scale of course.
This is one of the cigar factories.  And oh, the factories don't operate on Saturday...bummer.
It was a very warm (hot) morning and it was near the end of our stay at the Dade park where spent four months volunteering.  We enjoyed a walk around the old section and walked ourselves into an appetite.
So we marched ourselves right on over to the most popular restaurant in the old city, the Columbia.  It was crowded but cool and had a most interesting menu.  There were items with Cuban, Spanish (not Mexican), Irish and of course Italian, with a couple items from the Polish cuisine.  I had a veal parmasean and black beans & rice with a side of sautéed squash/onions.  Nancy had a fish sandwich & salad (iceberg lettuce (yuk, she said).
Here a few other pics of some of the historic markers of the old city.
As we discovered, during the hey day of Ybor City, there were many cultures within the City.  They were somewhat sectioned off from each other, and because they indeed were distinct cultures from the old world, they had these clubs where they would meet periodically to party and socialize and politicize. At the height of its life as a thriving immigrant community, Ybor City’s population was numbered in the tens of thousands. In the lowest point in the late 1970s, perhaps 1000 residents called the neighborhood home. 
From Wiki:  An aspect of life were the mutual aid societies built and sustained mainly by ordinary citizens. These clubs were founded in Ybor's early days (the first was the Centro Español, established in 1891) and were run on dues collected from their members, usually 5% of a member's salary. In exchange, members and their whole family received services including free libraries, educational programs, sports teams, restaurants, numerous social functions like dances and picnics, and free medical services. Beyond the services, these clubs served as extended families and communal gathering places for generations of Ybor's citizens.
They even have a trolley system within the old City.  Just to the left of where I took this picture, there was a park/plaza where folks were selling the merchandise, including cigars.  I didn't get any.  Nancy wanted a couple of boxes, but I said I could get them much cheaper on line.  LOL LOL :-)
This was one of the hang outs for the revelers. 
So, if your ever down in the Tampa area, stop by and spend a half day looking and learning about one of our country's little known Old Towns, Ybor City.  And while there, visit the museum (State Park) there within the old town, and you'll gain an historical insight into a city of the past.  We found it very enlightening if not interesting of the merging of the old world cultures here.
This blog is about 5 weeks past due.  We are parked a Walmart in Champaign, IL heading for Idaho, and it is June 21.  Before we reach Coer d' Alaine, I hopefully will be caught up with about four more blogs as we create more images & textual rhetoric for future blog material.  So, till then, Joe & Nancy, the RVing Beach Bums.