Cigar City Magazine/Jul-Aug 2009

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Paul has been a journalist in Tampa for the past 10 years. He has also written and produced a number of awardwinning independent films, including The Ghosts of Ybor: Charlie Wall. Paul can be reached at

Elizabeth Kozlowski

Elizabeth is a long time resident of the Tampa Bay area. She holds a BFA from Florida Atlantic University and currently serves as the Galleries Manager for Florida Craftsmen, Inc. in St. Petersburg. Both her father and uncle served as firemen during the Vietnam War. Elizabeth can be reached at Liz McCoy

Liz is the Curator of Programs and Education at the Ybor City Museum Society. She holds a degree in anthropology from U.S.F. where she is currently pursuing her masters in applied anthropology. Liz can be reached at

Printed in the U.S.A Cigar City Magazine, Inc. • P.O. Box 18613 • Tampa, Florida 33679 • Phone (813) 373-9988 e-mail: • ©2009, Cigar City Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use without written permission of the publisher, of editorial, pictorial, or design content, in any manner is prohibited. The opinions of writers commissioned for articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. All advertising is subject to approval before acceptance. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. Publisher assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. A self-addressed, postage paid envelope for return must accompany manuscripts, photographs, and other materials submitted. The publisher is not responsible for loss, damage, or any other injury to unsolicited originals unless specifically requested to do so by the publisher, Inc. in writing. You can write to us at, P.O. Box 18613, Tampa, Florida 33679 or via email at All letters, emails and their contents sent to Cigar City Magazine, Inc. become the sole property of the publisher and may be used and published in any manner whatsoever without limit and without obligation or liability to the author thereof. Cigar City ™ is a trademark and the the sole property of Lisa M. Figueredo.



FROM THE PUBLISHER LISA FIGUEREDO| PUBLISHER@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM Every day the world becomes more and more connected. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace; it seems like every few years a new technology or application hits the market. Cigar City Magazine is using these new on-line tools to keep you plugged in to what's happening in Tampa Bay and to keep you updated with what's happening with your Cigar City Magazine. Now, in addition to writing us letters and emails, you can make comments directly on our blog, follow us on Twitter, and add us as a fan on Facebook. All of this improved connectivity gives us an opportunity to reach new audiences while staying in

Salvatore J. Ingrassia

touch with our long-time supporters. Can't wait for your issue to hit the mailbox? Now you can read us on-line at Plus our on-line fans can take advantage of special discounts and giveaways at a moment's notice. We hope you'll take a moment to find us on the web. Remember, where we go, you go. I'm also happy to announce that my very good friend and City of Tampa Firefighter, Salvatore Ingrassia, has announced his candidacy for Hillsborough County Commission. He's running for the county-wide district five seat. You'll be hearing much more about Sal in the coming weeks and months. For now, check him out at I have known Sal since we were 16 years old and I can tell you first hand I do not know a better man for the job. I always say “if we had more people like Sal, the world would be a better place.” He is a man of high character and most of all a great friend and I can't think of a better person for the job.

Lisa M. Figueredo Publisher and Founder of Cigar City Magazine

Salvatore Ingrassia is a Firefighter with the City of Tampa, with over 25 years of experience in public safety. Along with his experience in the public safety sector, he is a manager with the Tampa Bay Financial office of MetLife Insurance. At MetLife, Ingrassia seeks out talented associates to join the firm as the Recruiting Manager. Salvatore Ingrassia is a fourth generation Tampa resident. He and his family have lived in the West and Northwest Tampa area, for over 100 years combined. As a result of his family’s long commitment to the Tampa Bay area, he has a long history of involvement in political and social causes pertinent to the Tampa area as past Political Director for the local 754 IAFF, and other council, commission and mayoral races. Salvatore Ingrassia has a B.S. in Business Management from Northwood University (2001) and is a graduate of Jefferson High School (1981). For more info go to



FROM THE EDITOR EMANUEL LETO| EDITOR@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM There's no doubt summer is upon us. It's so hot I could bake a loaf of Cuban Bread on my front porch. The only benefit to the staggering heat and humidity is the fact that, when I leave my Café con Leche in my car while running errands, it stays warm. We'll stick with the heat in this issue. Emanuel Leto Editor

Check out Elizabeth Kozlowski's profile of the new Firefighters

Museum in downtown Tampa. Undoubtedly, fire shapes communities and Tampa is no exception. In 1908, block upon block in Ybor City were destroyed. The new museum, in the old #1 Fire Station on Zack Street, explores the devastating effects of fire on communities while stressing safety and preparedness. Adding to the fire theme, we have published a “lost” article from our former editor, Marilyn Figueredo. In 2006, Marilyn found herself at the “center of events when a fire ripped through one of Ybor's historic buildings.” She wrote a first hand account of her effort to save the building from demolition which was never published. Read it for the first time on page 24. Switching gears the Ybor City Museum Society has put together an exhibit tracing the roots of Tampa Bay's Spanish immigrants and the wide influence they have exerted on the entire state of Florida. From conquistadores to cigar rollers, Spaniards have left an indelible mark on the entire region. Read Liz McCoy's engaging history of Spain and the Making of Modern Tampa on page 30. Finally, Bulls on Parade, Paul Guzzo follows a former Tampa mayor and a man dressed as a matador to Tallahassee. In the 1970s local community boosters announced plans to transform Ybor City into a bullfighting Mecca in an attempt to compete with Disney World for tourist dollars. Check out page 36 to find out what happened when the bull got loose. Finally, And, if you're looking for me, I'm not going outside until October.



nt of Firehouse # Ladder truck in fro




Burned into History: The Making of Tampa’s Firefighters Museum.


Ybor Fire


Spain and the Creation of Modern Tampa


Bulls on Parade: A Matador & Mayor Go to Tallahassee. Guess What Happened?


The Soda Fountain






12 14 15 46 48 52 54

Cigar Label History

Looking Back: This Month in Florida History

Lost Landmarks

Café con Leche

The Kitchen On The Town with Dave Capote

Mama Knows

42 Correction on the Naviera Coffee Mill Story by Any Huse in the May/June 2009 - Issue 22

Carlos Menendez’s son (Carl S. Menendez) worked in Naviera coffee mill for years before leaving the business. Instead, the founder’s son in law Vicente ran the business.

Visit our web site at 8


F. Garcia and Brothers, which relocated to Tampa from New York in 1884, produced the Santiso Label. In 1895, the company moved to Arch Street in West Tampa from an earlier location on Franklin Street in downtown Tampa. The company also operated a branch factory in Havana, Cuba. F. Garcia and Brothers closed in 1928, shortly after the passing of several of the company's founders.





This Month in Florida History

Baptista Boazio, Saint Augustine Map, 1589. August 28, 1565 Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain enters a harbor which he calls San Augustin; he captures Fort Caroline which becomes San Mateo, a Spanish outpost. He also massacres the shipwrecked French forces of Admiral Jean Ribault on Anastasia Island. San Augustin will become known as St. Augustine, and will be settled continuously after Menendez leaves part of his troops there. July 2, 1887 The City of Tampa was granted its charter from the State of Florida. The bill, signed by Governor Edward Perry, mandated city-wide elections for the Mayor and 11 councilmen to be held on July 12th. The city limits were also expanded to include “north� Tampa and Ybor City. The Council convened for the first time on July 15th. An earlier attempt to organize the city of Tampa ended in bankruptcy in 1855. July 13, 1978 Walter Poenisch completes swim of 207 km from Cuba to Florida. August 14, 1982 The Tampa Times printed its last edition today. Founded in 1893, the newspaper published in Tampa for just over 90 years.

August 8, 1992 Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida; 35 die.




LOST LANDMARK Can you identify this Lost Landmark?

Previous Lost Landmark: Palace Hotel on Central Avenue. No one guessed the May/June Lost Landmark. Better luck this issue!

You can win a Cigar City t-shirt by correctly identifying this landmark. Simply mail the answer and your contact information

Lost Landmarks C/O Cigar City Magazine P.O. Box 18613 Tampa, Florida 33679 or email us at by August 1, 2009. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Good luck!

A Reminder! Our new location and numbers: 1906 N. Armenia • #206 Tampa, FL 33607 Office: 813-373-9988 Fax: 1-866-869-0617 JULY/AUGUST 2009


On lookers stare as fire engulfs a home in 1908.

Firefighters on horse-drawn carriage in front of the #1 Firestation on Zack Street, 1890s.



West Tampa Fire Department, circa 1900.




Ybor City. along Palm Avenue in es az bl 00 20 in e fir A

If you talk to anyone long enough, you will find a connection to the fire service. The patterns in our lives demonstrate the intertwined history of fire and community. The devastating effects of fire touch everyone. As they say, “Fire goes, so goes the neighborhood.” Two pivotal moments in Tampa's fire history both occurred in Ybor City: the fire of 1908 and the fire of 2000. The fire of 1908 began on the roof of a boarding house at 1914 12th Avenue. It overtook 55 acres, burning over 100 homes and dozens of businesses. It was one of the largest, most destructive fires in Tampa's history up until the fire of 2000, which, coincidentally, also took place in the same part of Ybor City. The site of the boarding house at the center of the 1908 fire was now home to a post office, which was engulfed in the flames of an apartment complex that was under construction. Eight blocks were ignited within 40 minutes. These tragic, defining events are the basis for the new Tampa Firefighters Museum. A grassroots effort, the Museum

was conceived in 1996 by a group of local firefighters and funded by money collected in a pot. The firefighters incorporated as a non-profit and set up a meeting with then-mayor, Dick Greco. Their original intention was to rent the bottom floor of the Old Firehouse #1 on Zack Street in downtown Tampa. At the end of the meeting, Mayor Greco pledged not just the bottom floor but the entire building, and the Tampa Firefighters Museum was born with Tampa Firefighters, Inc. at the helm. After nearly a decade of work, the tragedies of 9/11 brought progress to a halt. Not to be deterred, Tampa Firefighters, Inc. began a grassroots campaign of chili cookoffs and casino nights in an effort to raise money for the museum. With the addition of a historic preservation grant, the renovation of the old firehouse began.



The 1908 fire destroyed several blocks in Ybor City. 18


Originally constructed in 1911, Firehouse #1 remained in operation as an elevator, have been kept separate from the original structure; the until modernization and growth caught up with the building. In 1974, original building is used as the main gallery and activities area. On the when the firehouse could no longer accommodate today's much larger second floor are the dorms, where visitors can still see the remnants of fire trucks, they moved across the street to Firehouse #3. Visitors to the fire poles located next to each man's bed with their fire trucks located museum not only get to experience the history of fire and the men and directly below. According to Todd Spear, retired TFD and one of the women who fight them, but directly across the street, they may catch a museum's founders, the fastest horse-drawn exit on record is 8 secondsglimpse of today's firefighters in action. Old Firehouse #1 was one of the hard to beat even by today's mechanized standards. The Museum's Memorial Room is a key part of the visitors experilast stations built to accommodate horse-drawn trucks. But, as early as the 1890s, firehouses were purchasing motorized equipment. In 1921, the ence. In it, newspaper clippings, articles and photographs illustrate the department's last horse was traded out for the predecessor to the modern personal history of the firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty. Included are C.E Answorth and J. fire truck. Sanders who battled the Sanchez The Fire Department in Cigar Factory fire of 1894 and J.W. Tampa originally began as a group Barker, who died in 2001, from of volunteers. However, after severoccupational health issues. al major fires, Tampa City Council, The proud heritage and histowhich was organized in 1887, opted ry of Tampa's firefighters are for a paid fire department. The first imbued throughout the museum, modern engine arrived in March of from the objects it holds to the edu1895. A.J. Harris became the first cational displays. Will Stack of paid Fire Chief with a full time staff Stack Design, located in Ybor City, of 22 men working at five different was asked to create the bases for the stations across Tampa. According to Restoration of Fire House #1 began in 1996. signage found throughout the the Firefighters Museum, the annumuseum. He chose the ladder as al budget of the fire department at his inspiration. “The subtle, yet recthe time was reportedly $18,000. ognizable presence of the ladder, a widely symbolic element of the prof you have ever had the pleasure fession, is evident in each display,” of spending some time with firesays Stack. His aim was to “create a fighters, you know that they are collection that would evoke a sense a congenial group and the kitchen of pride shared by both firefighters is an integral part of the firehouse. and visitors alike,” a common Randall Jordan, retired Captain of a thread throughout the museum, Tampa Fire Department engine which stresses both the importance company, recalls that if you were so of history and the sense of commubold as to not take part in the meal nity shared by all firefighters. plan and dinner hour, you were ostracized to the fire hose rack and Exhibits at the Tampa Firefighters Museum. The Firefighters Museum labeled a “racker” for the rest of plays a key role in the revitalization your days. Early firefighters worked of Zack Street and the surrounding around the clock for 12-14 days area and is an important addition straight, eating, sleeping and workto the evolution of downtown as a ing together, forming an unbreakcultural destination. According to able bond of friendship and Todd Spear, the way a community respect. As part of the ongoing responds to the devastating effects preservation of Old #1, the kitchen of a fire defines a significant part of will be restored and fully functional, the culture of that community. serving as a community meeting “Tampa's firefighters have served it place for retired firefighters, and a well, and the rich history of fireslice of living history for visitors. fighters and fires in our city will be When you enter Old Fire celebrated in the growing collecStation #1 today, there is a great tions of exhibits,” says Spear. sense of history retained in the Several exhibits emphasize fire safety. building. The new amenities, such





According to its web site (, “the mission of the museum is to promote and preserve Tampa's firefighter history and proud heritage.� Just as important is fire safety education. Nearly 35% of home fires start in the kitchen, advises Spear. He stresses the importance of fire safety education and outreach into the community. The hope is that citizens and visitors to Tampa will walk away with the knowledge to keep their families and communities safe from fire, as well as a healthy appreciation and respect for the sacrifices of the firefighters who serve.

EVENTS The Museum offers a unique and historical setting in the downtown area for all kinds of rental events including weddings, banquets, holiday parties and kids birthday parties. Rentals are available 7 days a week with advanced scheduling and can hold a variety of events from 25 people up to 250 people. The entire Museum is wheelchair accessible. OPEN: Tuesday - Sunday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM For more information contact us at:

Tampa Firefighters Museum 720 Zack Street | Tampa, FL 33602 Tel (813) 964-6862 JULY/AUGUST 2009


Editor's Note: The following is a first hand account of a 2006 fire on Ybor City's 7th Avenue and the ensuing effort to save what was left of the historic building that had burned. Cigar City Magazine Editor, Marilyn Figueredo, wrote it just a few months prior to her death. It was never published. I have chosen to include it here for several reasons. In conjunction with Elizabeth Kozlowski's wonderful story on Tampa's new Firefighters Museum, Marylin's first-person description underscores the ways in which, even today, fire shapes communities. I have changed very little of this story in an effort to retain Marylin's original voice. In it, you can hear the passion our former editor put into everything she did, you can see why we continue her legacy by publishing Cigar City Magazine. Marilyn Esperante Figueredo



Finally, it is important to remember that the responsibility of maintaining, preserving and even fighting for our history is everyone's responsibility. It is up to regular citizens like you, me, and Marilyn. No one will do it for you. Every time a building is demolished, every time a stack of photos is resigned to the trash bin, part of the map that shows us all how we got here is erased forever.






n Sunday, November 26, 2006 firefighters battled a fivealarm blaze that gutted one building and briefly threatened the historic Columbia Restaurant. No one was hurt. The cause was reported as arson. The building, located at 2201 E. 7th Avenue on the corner of 22nd Street, housed an antique furniture store called Le Chateau. Flames reportedly jumped at least 50 feet from the roof, and embers sprinkled the top of the Columbia Restaurant, said Capt. Bill Wade, spokesman for Tampa Fire Rescue. Heavy wood trusses fueled the fire for a couple of hours. By 11p.m., with the flames under control, city and county firefighters had at least four ladder trucks dousing the building from above. Combined, they sprayed roughly four tons of water on the building per minute. The building was built in early 1900. Most of the fire was contained to the second floor. A pair of Tampa police officers passing by the building noticed smoke and reported the fire shortly after 8 p.m. Within hours, more than 50 firefighters were battling the fire. They occasionally sprayed the roof of the Columbia Restaurant during the fire's peak. The value of the building is estimated at $664,000, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser. It had been sold for $500,000 to Andre Callen of Tampa in 2004. The following Wed., November 29th I was riding in my car headed to my office (Cigar City Magazine, 1911 N. 12th Ave.) when I heard on the radio they were getting ready to tear down this burned building. I headed directly to the site and stood in the Columbia Restaurant parking lot across the street. When I arrived there were three other news outlets - one from television, one from the St. Petersburg Times and one from News Radio 970 WFLA. The Tampa Fire Department was already there and they were hooking up the brackets for their hoses to the fire hydrants while at the same time Kimmins Demolition Company's large equipment was being brought in. I knew very well that soon, the building would come down. I felt panic and helplessness - I used my cell phone and called Tom Keating, President of the Ybor Chamber. He wasn't aware they were destroying the building today, but he said he had already spoken out against tearing it down and there wasn't much more he could do, plus he was taking a CNN news crew around Ybor. He suggested that I feel comfortable in speaking out on behalf of the building. I called Vince Pardo, manager of Ybor City Development Corporation. He was aware of what was happening and explained that the Department of Transportation wanted 22nd Street to reopen because it was preventing large trucks and tankers from getting to the Port. Since the building sat on 7th and 22nd, they could not let trucks pass because they were afraid the vibration would bring the top floor of the building down. The DOT was 26


anxious and apparently putting lots of pressure on the city to reopen the highway. I later found out that the city had two of their structural engineers recommend the building be demolished. Also, Vince added that there were railroad tracks behind the building and was fearful that the vibration from those tracks could also cause the building to collapse. Short of chaining myself to the building, I felt so helpless. The reporter from 970 interviewed me and I said that it was a shame that no one was standing up for this building. If this building stood in New Orleans or other historic areas of the U.S. people would be fighting to preserve it - instead everyone just wants to be rid of it as quickly as possible. As I sat there helplessly watching the beehive of activity, I felt so frustrated and wondered why none of Tampa's cultural organizations were there leading the fight for the building. Well, there must have been angels present that day because all of a sudden different people started showing up that were not normally in Ybor City - - City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena, a big supporter of history and culture, was leading a tour group of Ybor, saw the commotion and came over to investigate. Then someone called Dale Swope and Angela Rodante, the attorneys who purchased and renovated the old Florida Brewery. They showed up and began trying to help. Then I saw Mary Alvarez, another City Councilwoman entering the Columbia Restaurant for lunch and remembered it was Rotary Club Meeting Day - I pointed her out and someone ran in and got her to come out to the street corner with us. Then Fran Constantino showed up she has been involved this past year in trying to secure historic designation for our cigar factories - she couldn't believe what was happening. The two city council women were on their cell phones trying to get someone to listen and not tear down the building. Dale Swope talked to the owner of Kimmins and the owner said it would be a shame to tear down this historic building. Just then, a friend of Dale's who just happens to be a structural engineer also happened to be in Ybor, walked over. He volunteered his time and Dale kept pushing to have an independent structural engineer evaluate the building. After many phone calls and conversations, this small group of people standing on the street corner succeded in halting the demolition. The issue went before City Council and they talked to the Mayor, and the outcome was to tear down just the 2nd floor and preserve the 1st floor with the owner even agreeing to use the bricks from the 2nd floor to help rebuild. It just goes to prove that a few dedicated citizens can make a difference. I am glad I was there and glad I was a part of saving this old wonderful building that at one time was known as the Pardo Building. My friend Pete Pardo told me that, years ago, there was a gambling operation on the top floor.

2201 E. 7th Avenue after the fire.





Painting of Juan Ponce de Léon, who is cited as the first Spaniard to land in Florida. He gave the peninsula its name in 1513 when he first explored the eastern coast.

Map rendered in 1584 by the Spanish showing their territory stretching for into what is now the southern United States. Map courtesy of the Special and Digital Collections Department, University of South Florida Tampa Library. 30


t could be said that without Spain, there would be no Ybor City, and thus no Tampa. Certainly the area would by now be developed, but the Spanish immigrants who moved here are an integral part of the unique story of the Tampa we know today. The cigar industry they brought to the area helped transform Tampa from what was a small fishing village into a modern industrial city. In recognition of the contributions the Spanish immigrants made to the development of Tampa, the Ybor City Museum Society has developed a series of exhibits highlighting various aspects of their story. The main exhibit, titled Spain and the Creation of Modern Tampa: 1886 - 2009 which is also the title of the year-long program series, provides a broad overview of the Spanish immigrant experience. Visitors to the Museum can observe the reasons why so many Spaniards from Northern Spain emigrated to the Americas, to their employment in Ybor City's and West Tampa's cigar factories, to the experiences of descendents of the original immigrants. The main exhibit opened at the Ybor City Museum State Park in March and will be on display through December 31, 2009. Three additional exhibits focus on more specific topics related to the Spaniards of Tampa. Tampa and the Spanish Civil War, which is on display April 17 through the fall at the historic Centro Español building in West Tampa, discusses the events of the Spanish Civil War and their obvious effects on the European community as well as the residents of Ybor City and West Tampa. Another exhibit, The Spanish Mutual Aid Societies: The History of Centro Asturiano de Tampa and Centro Español, opens at the Centro Español July 17 and explores the role these organizations played in the lives of the residents of Ybor City and West Tampa as well as the continued presence of these groups in the Spanish community of Tampa today. The Story of Spanish Emigration to the Americas explores the myriad reasons so many Spaniards from Asturias and Galicia in Northern Spain emigrated to the Americas around the turn of the 19th century. The exhibit traces their journey to various countries in North and South America, including the path through Cuba onto Tampa that many emigrants took. Centro Asturiano acquired 28 artifacts on loan from El Museo de Emigración in Colobres, Spain for this exhibit, which will be on display in their historic building in Ybor City from May 15 through the end of the year.

In 1885, a Spaniard named Gavino Gutiérrez, a businessman in New York City, travelled to Florida in the hopes of finding a suitable area to grow guava fruit. Spain and Florida Spain's history in Tampa hardly begins in the 1880s. Long before any Spaniard dreamed of rolling a cigar in one of Tampa's factories, Spanish feet touched the white sands of the beaches of what they thought was another island in the Caribbean. Juan

Image of ships and trains at the Port of Tampa. Henry B. Plant's trains and steamers carried people and tobacco between Cuba and Tampa, and finished cigars from Tampa to a number of American markets.

Ponce de Léon landed on the east coast of the peninsula on April 2, 1513 and proclaimed the new land La Pascua Florida, or “Flowery Easter,” presumably due to the area's rich plant life and his landing during the Spanish Easter Feast. The next decades saw a series of Spanish expeditions to La Pascua Florida, including Panfilio De Narvaez who led a meandering and ultimately unsuccessful excursion into the interior of Florida via the Pinellas peninsula in 1528 and Hernando de Soto's 1539 The Virgin of Covadonga. In Spain in the 8th Century, the Moors spread across most of Europe and well into the Iberian Peninsula. In 722, Pelayo of Asturias began to fight against the Moors, and legend has it that his troops were inspired to victory by a vision of the Virgin Mary at the Asturian town of Covadonga. Asturians are proud of their role in establishing the Kingdom of Spain, and today the title of “Prince of Asturias” is given to the heir to the royal throne.

entrada, which is believed to have landed just south of Tampa Bay. The Spanish held tenuous control over Florida for nearly two centuries, though pressures from French and British forces were a constant threat to Spain's territorial claims. Spain finally traded Florida to Britain in exchange for control of Cuba, only to regain Florida 21 years later after the British were defeated in the American Revolutionary War. In the late 1700s early 1800s, Seminole Indians migrating into Florida via present-day Georgia and Alabama felt the same pressure from European-Americans that many other indigenous groups felt as they were forced off their ancestral lands. The Seminoles began to retaliate by attacking United States outposts in Georgia, and it is believed that the Spanish encouraged, and in many cases, militarily supported such attacks in hopes of expanding their holdings north of Florida. The resulting First Seminole War ended in defeat for Spain, and they lost Florida once and for all on July 10, 1821. More than 50 years would pass before another Spaniard, Vicente Martinez Ybor, would contemplate moving his cigar factory from Key West to what was then a small town of roughly 800 residents on the western Gulf Coast of Florida called Tampa. This is where Spain and the Creation of Modern Tampa: 1886-2009 begins, detailing the evolution of a unique and noted commuVicente Martinez Ybor. nity, its industrial development, and the traditions, culture and arts that the Spaniards brought to Tampa.

Spain, Cuba, and the Founding of Ybor City As Spain's worldwide empire dwindled during the nineteenth century, its control of overseas colonies weakened, as well. At the same time, life was difficult for those living in Spain's villages, particularly in the northern part of the country where farming was the main way of making a living. The country still operated under an essentially feudal farming system, which made individual economic prosperity nearly impossible for the average Spanish citizen. JULY/AUGUST 2009


Cantina at El Centro Español in West Tampa.

Since their economy was not growing, the Spanish government recognized that many of its unemployed citizens would not be able to find work in the country. Accordingly, the government encouraged workers to move from Spain to Cuba. As a territory of Spain, the government hoped to not only to relieve some of the unemployment pressures within Spain, but also to increase the number of loyal Spanish subjects residing in Cuba. Hundreds of thousands left their homeland in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the largest proportions leaving from Asturias and Galicia in the northwestern corner of Spain. In 1885, a Spaniard named Gavino Gutiérrez, a businessman in New York City, travelled to Florida in the hopes of finding a suitable area to grow guava fruit. He did not think that Tampa would be able to sustain a guava industry, and continued south to Key West on his quest. While there, he met a cigar factory owner named Vicente Martinez Ybor, who had been looking to move his cigar factory to a new location. Transportation to and from Cuba from Key West was difficult, and the constraints of space and amenities on the island made operating a business on the island difficult. Labor unrest amongst his workers was also problematic. Ybor Believed that if he could move where transportation was more accessible and where he could provide good living conditions for his workers, he could improve his 32


profits and quell unrest at the same time. When he met Gutiérrez and heard his description of Tampa and the new railroad that Henry B. Plant had built there, Ybor quickly purchased land east of Tampa and hired Gutiérrez to lay out a plan for a new city. The result was Ybor City. Ybor City and its new cigar industry grew very quickly, and many Spaniards in Cuba flocked to the area in hopes of working in the factories. By 1930, Tampa had the third largest Spanish population in the U.S., with larger populations only in Los Angeles and New York City. However, Tampa had the largest concentration of Spaniards compared to the overall population, so it is little wonder that the affect they had on the community was so great.

Life in Ybor City Tampa in the late 1800s and early 1900s was not a particularly hospitable environment. Oppressive heat and swampy mosquitoinfested wilderness was a far cry from the cool, damp, lush, mountainous terrain of northern Spain. To compound the physical discomfort, those who moved to Ybor City shortly after its founding discovered very little in the way of hospitality. The residents already living in Tampa did not speak Spanish and offered little in the way of assistance to the fledgling city.

Many of these early Spanish immigrants realized the need to establish a support system that would step in to provide a number of basic services to the new residents. The resulting organizations provided a place for immigrants to gather and socialize, which allowed them to form a more cohesive community. These organizations also provided medical services, which offered care to its members for their entire life. Members paid a small amount each week to the club, and in return were able to partake in the services that the club was able to provide because of those dues. This mutually beneficial arrangement between the organization and the members led to their being referred to as mutual aid societies. El Centro Español, chartered in 1891, was the first such organization in Ybor City. A second Spanish mutual aid society, El Centro Asturiano, was chartered in 1902 as an auxiliary of El Centro Asturiano de La Habana in Cuba. El Centro Español opened a second clubhouse in West Tampa in 1912, as that area grew into a second cigar producing town shortly after the growth of Ybor City, and the residents of West Tampa found themselves in a similar situation as the earliest residents of Ybor City. These organizations sponsored dances and picnics, operas and theater. Men gathered in the cantinas nightly to play cards or dominoes and to share jokes or talk politics, while women had their own salons for socializing. Gymnasiums, libraries, and classrooms provided for the physical and mental fitness of the members. As valuable and welcomed as these services were, the access to the club's doctors and hospitals was paramount. The Cuban and Italian immigrants who also lived in Ybor City had their own social clubs, but did not provide the same medical services as did the Spanish societies. As a result, the Spanish mutual aid societies allowed all residents, regardless of their country of origin, to join the clubs in order to obtain the medical services.

Centro Asturiano Hospital in Ybor City. 34


Spain and Tampa in the Modern Age Spaniards in Tampa reached a turning point in their relations with Spain in the 1930s. To that point, many in Tampa kept in close contact with family members still in Spain and travelled there as often as they could. However, the political tide turned in the mid-1930s, and the democratically-elected Second Spanish Republic faced strong opposition to its leftist aspirations for Spain's future from the more right-wing minority in the government. As a result, a right-wing military uprising led Francisco Franco

Tampa's Spanish Consul Gustavo Jimenez hoisting the Republican flag at the Centro Español in West Tampa on April 14, 1937. This was part of a celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the Spanish Republic.

gained a great deal of support from both inside and outside of Spain, leading to a civil war between the two factions. Often reduced to a rather simplistic pitting of communism against fascism, the causes leading to the Spanish Civil War are complex and many fighting on the same side did not always see eye-to-eye regarding Spain's future. The Spanish Republic was supported by Mexico and the Soviet Union, while Franco was supported by Italy and Germany. Many refer to the Spanish Civil War as the “Little World War,” as World War II broke out only a few months after the end of the Spanish Civil War, and the players remained essentially unchanged. The war ended in 1939 with Franco as the victor, and he ruled Spain as its supreme dictator for the next 36 years. The majority of Tampa's Spaniards supported the Spanish Republic against Franco. However, faced with a similar fear of fascism, many Italians and Cubans joined the anti-war effort as well. Residents of Ybor City and West Tampa followed the war's progress through the radio, newspapers, and letters from relatives. The cantinas of the social clubs were abuzz with heated discussions of the war.


Children wearing Spanish-style military outfits provided them by the Comité del Frente Popular.

The Comité del Frente Popular, which operated out of the Labor Temple in Ybor City, organized fundraisers and demonstrations. A children's program within the Comité del Frente Popular allowed children to participate in plays and to sing in recitals to benefit the Republic.Women in the Comité made special military-style uniforms for the children to wear during performances. They also sold churros to raise money and collected clothing and other essentials to be sent to Spain. Children collected the tin foil from gum wrappers and cigarette packs, which was then melted down and formed into fishing weights that were sold to raise money for the Republic. Many Italians and Cubans in Tampa also contributed to the Comité del Frente Popular. It is estimated that Tampa raised close to $200,000 for the Republic, which is equivalent to $1.57 million today. When their efforts were unsuccessful and Franco declared victory in Spain, many in Tampa separated themselves from Spain, and actual physical separation occurred when Franco did not allow them travel into Spain. However, the transformation of Spain into a dictatorship made Spain so unlike the homeland they remembered that many cut themselves off emotionally from Spain, as well. Today, Spain is once again a democracy, and many Spanish immigrants and their children are embracing the country and heritage from which they came.

Spain and the Creation of Modern Tampa: 1886-2009 This year-long series of exhibits and programming is developed by the Ybor City Museum Society in collaboration with many community organizations including El Centro Asturiano de Tampa, El Centro Español de Tampa, Club Ibérico-Español, University of South Florida Special and Digital Collections, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa Museum of Art, The Salvador Dalí Museum and Opera Tampa. The exhibits were made possible through the generous support of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa and corporate sponsors including GPS Marketing Technologies, Pan American University Women, ChappellRoberts, Tre Amici at the Bunker, Spanish Wine Imports, LLC and WMNF Community Radio.

For more information or a schedule of exhibits and event, visit or contact the Ybor City Museum Society (813)247-1434 JULY/AUGUST 2009




Before city leaders envisioned Ybor City as a residential and shopping district, they boasted about bullfights. “It was how we were going to save Ybor City,” explained former Mayor Dick Greco. When Greco was first elected mayor in 1967, Ybor City was indeed in need of a savior. The thriving cigar and immigrant community of the late 1800s and early 1900s was long gone. Gone were the rows upon rows of shotgun homes. In their place was just empty land covered with sprinkles of demolished wood and brick, a result of the destruction that Urban Renewal and the construction of I-4 wrought upon the district. Gone was the beautiful architecture, replaced with crumbling and dilapidated buildings that had been neglected since their residents left Ybor City due to the dwindling cigar industry and the lure of the suburbs. Gone were the hundreds of men, women and children who once hustled down Seventh Avenue. Gone were the cars that once lined the main thoroughfare. It is often said that a man could lie down in the middle of the road and not worry about being hit by a passing car.

Seventh Avenue to Ninth Avenue; 47 establishments including restaurants, shops and cafes, and an outdoor market with dancers, singers, strolling guitarists, vendors and artists would represent every immigrant population that once made Ybor City their home. Disney World was opening in Orlando in 1971, so the city planned to finish the walled city in Ybor to coincide-and compete-with Orlando's new tourist attraction. The walled city would be visible from I-4, so Greco, Gonzmart, Walter and Fernandez thought that tourists flocking to Orlando would see it and pull over to check it out. In time, they believed that everyone visiting Disney would also visit Ybor City and they projected that 2.5 million tourists would spend $50 million in the walled city annually. There were was one problem, though - bullfighting was illegal in Florida at the time, even “bloodless” bullfighting in which the matador achieves his or her victory by sticking a piece of Velcro between the bull's shoulder blades rather than by stabbing him to death. Gonzmart and Greco travelled to Tallahassee to change the law.

Gone were the cafés boiling café con leche, the restaurants preparing roast pork, and the street vendors selling crab cakes. Gone were the streetcars rumbling down the brick streets. Gone were the domino players and the clickity-clack of their game pieces being slammed onto a table. Instead, silence rang throughout Ybor City. Ybor City was a ghost town and some wondered if it would ever come to life again. By the late 1960s, a group of Ybor City leaders developed a plan to save the one-time thriving Latin district - bullfighting. The men behind the bullfighting venture were Mayor Greco; Jim Walter, owner of a home-building corporation that was one of the city's most financially successful businesses; Cesar Gonzmart, owner of the Columbia Restaurant; and Ybor City optometrist Henry Fernandez. Gonzmart, Fernandez and Walter told Greco that if he could get the city and state to approve the project, they could get the funding. The entire project would cost $15 million, $5 million of which would be spent on the bullfighting ring. A wall would be built around Ybor City -- Seventh Avenue to the south, the expressway on the north, 22nd Street on the east and 17th Street on the west. Besides a bloodless bullfighting ring, the walled city would include a $2.5 million, 120-room Spanish-style castle hotel that would be erected across the street from the Columbia Restaurant, covering a two block area from 21st Street to 22nd Street from

The handsome Gonzmart, dressed in full matador attire, is said to have walked throughout the state house and sweettalked the legislation in Tallahassee, even kissing the head of every secretary he saw, and the suave Greco spoke eloquently about the need to save Ybor City. The Legislature was no match for the charming duo of Gonzmart and Greco, and the State legislature voted to legalize bloodless bullfights. The second component of Ybor City's planned revitalization process was luring Hillsborough Community College to the district. In 1968, the State of Florida and Hillsborough County identified a need for a community college in the county. Greco immediately saw Ybor City as a perfect fit. The City was flush with land it had acquired during Urban Renewal and private investment was lagging. Ultimately Greco offered 33-acres of recently-cleared Urban Renewal land to H.C.C. Ybor City's current and former residents got behind the idea, seeing it as a way to reinvigorate the community. Over 17,000 people signed a petition stating their support for the building of a community college in Ybor City. The city then prepared a 28page report analyzing why Ybor City was the best fit for the campus, specifically stating that it was accessible to the interstate, close to the center of the population and had vacant land rather than land that still had to be cleared. JULY/AUGUST 2009


Construction of HCC’s Ybor City branch campus began in 1973.

Bob Bondi, a former Ybor City resident, sat on the School Board and argued convincingly that Ybor City was the best site for the proposed campus. State Senator Louis de la Parte, also a native of Ybor City, provided them with political support on the state level. Together with Greco, these well-connected sons of Ybor City extolled the benefits that a community college could bring to the old neighborhood. They envisioned a Latin motif, which would fit seamlessly with the walled city project. “It could change the whole complexion of the Ybor City area. It would gain worldwide exposure,” Greco said to the Legislature, explaining that it would be the only community college in the nation to be designed in such a unique manner. Unfortunately, Greco's dreams for Ybor City soon turned into a nightmare. In February 1971, a group unaffiliated with Ybor City's bullfighting project staged a bloodless bullfight in Bradenton, Fl., a community about 50 miles south of Tampa. The bull charged the crowd rather than the matador. Gonzmart later stated that the bull was “untested,” which is what led to the debacle. While no spectators were hurt, the bull had to be shot by police officers on the scene. And in May 1971, the state Legislature, feeling pressure from the Humane Society, repealed the bullfighting law, ending the walled city project.

The HCC project was also falling apart. The first president of HCC, Dr. William Graham, who was overseeing the construction of the college's first main campus in the county, was firmly against an Ybor City campus and refused to be swayed by the many politicos in the corner of Ybor City. He was in favor of building the main campus on Dale Mabry Highway, located on the outskirts of downtown Tampa because the land was cheaper and more abundant, came with a better infrastructure, and was geographically closer to those residents with college aspirations. In the end, Graham won the battle of wills. While there was support for an Ybor City campus, Dale Mabry was a more practical choice. The salesmanship of the city, school board and state did enable Ybor City to win a minor battle, though. The community college agreed to build a “branch campus” in Ybor City. The campus, which broke ground in late-1973, was small, but provided Ybor City with the anchor that it needed to begin its restoration process. It was the first time in decades that buildings were erected in Ybor City rather than torn down, and the students that studied on campus were the first rush of new life the district had experienced since the cigar industry faded away. Over the next few decades, Ybor City would go through a number of changes, becoming known as an arts district, a bar district and a shopping district. But the HCC campus provided the initial spark. JULY/AUGUST 2009








f you are old enough to remember “soda fountains�, consider yourself lucky. The great age of soda fountains is long gone, but what a fun time it was for those of us that had the opportunity to experience this slice of


Three of Tampa's popular soda fountains located downtown were Kress, J. J. Newberry and Woolworth's. The three stores were all next to one another on Franklin Street. For 5 or 10 cents you could have a milk shake or malt with at least three scoops of ice cream. You could also ask the soda jerk to mix you a cherry or vanilla coke.

Kress & Newberry, 1950



It was always fascinating to watch the soda jerk work. Everything was made with the utmost care and expertise. It was a challenge to concoct a delicious work of art complete with whipped cream and a cherry on top! Samuel Fahnestock was the father of the soda fountain. He was awarded a patent for his invention in 1819, but the soda fountain increased in popularity during the drug revolution of the 1850s. During this time, pharmacists operated their own drugstores and soda fountains. People would head to the local drugstore and purchase a fountain drink that was used to cure some physical ailment. The druggist sold fountain drinks that were made of extracts of various drugs that were flavored and effervesced to make them palatable. At times, drugs like cocaine and caffeine were used. The combination of the two was used effectively to cure headaches. However, rebound headaches were common so usually the sufferer would head back for another shot of the mixture. Doctors and druggists believed that stimulants were good for you because people needed that extra “pep�. They believed these drugs were completely safe and effective. Many druggists even made and marketed their own secret formulations. Once the evils of these drugs were investigated, laws were enacted prohibiting the use of cocaine and caffeine. By the early 1920's, just about every drugstore had a soda fountain. It is felt the reason for the explosion of soda fountains during this time was mostly due to prohibition that began in 1919. The soda fountain filled the social void caused by the closing of bars. However, the popularity of soda fountains declined with the introduction of fast foods, commercial ice cream, bottled soft drinks and restaurants by the 1950s.

J. J. Newberry, 1941

Woolworths Snack Bar, 1950

Madison Snack Bar, 1952 44




Summer is here! Relax and refresh with some of these popular drinks from the Columbia.

Mojito Several sprigs of mint Juice of one lemon 1 teaspoon sugar 2 ounces rum

1 strip of lemon peel Cracked ice Soda water

PREPARATION Using an 8-oz. glass, mull mint with sugar. Add rest of ingredients and stir. Add ice and soda water to fill glass. Serves 1

Cuba Libre 1 1/2 ounces white rum Juice of 1/4 lime or lemon 4 ice cubes

Cola 1 maraschino cherry

PREPARATION Stir rum and lime juice together in chilled highball glass. Add ice cubes, pour cola to fill glass, and stir. Garnish with cherry or lime. Serves 1





Dear Mama, I moved away from West Tampa when I was just a little girl but if memory serves me right, there were a lot of strange things we did while living there. Can you help me out so when I come back I can get back to being a West Tampanian again? – Wanting to Come Back Dear Wanting To Come Back, First, don’t come back and the only strange one is YOU! If you were truely from West Tampa you would know what makes you a true West Tampanian. Since I can’t be there to throw a cocotaso (slap to the head), let me supply you with a list. – Mama

Other people tell you to stop shouting when you're really just talking. You go to a funeral to tell jokes and socialize. You've ever gotten socks and underwear from your grandparents on Christmas. You understand the concept of "Cuban time". You describe a place that's far away by saying its ''en casa del carajo'' (In House of Hell)

When mixing with Anglos you have to fight the urge to give them a kiss on the cheek hello or touch them in any way and can't quite figure out why physical contact seems to scare the hell out of them. Every time you meet another Latino you do a mental run through to see if there is any way you're related or if any of your relatives have ever met. You then proceed to talk about this for the next fifteen minutes and become instant friends. You have a least two fruit trees planted in your backyard and one of them is usually a mango tree.

You refer to your mother, sister, cousins, girlfriend, wife and every female in your life as ''Mami'' "Mama", "Mamacita" or "Mamita.

You are convinced that iodine (mecurocrombo) cures everything from a cut to a hangover.

You have been drinking cuban coffee for breakfast since you were in diapers and can drink some before going to sleep without any problem.

There's a big picture of someone's quince, wedding picture or communion in the living room.

Your furniture had plastic covers when you were a kid.

When you were sick you had Vicks Vapor Rub (vivaporu) smeared all over your chest and inside your nostrils.

You have at least 50 cousins and no idea how you are actually related to any of them.



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