Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in the heart of Tampa. It's most historic streets are East 7th Avenue and East 8th Avenue. It is within a short distance of downtown Tampa to the southwest.
Historic Ybor City is a national historic landmark.
A major factor that made the city unique in the southern United States is that its population was heavily Hispanic and Italian, both Catholic cultures.
The history of Ybor City starts with Vicente Martinez Ybor. He was born in 1818 in Spain, and moved to Cuba as a boy of 14.
While in Cuba he learned how to make cigars, and started his own small company in Havana in 1856.
Twelve years later he moved to Key West, Florida to get away from the turmoil caused by Cuba's continuing struggle for Cuban independence from Spain.
Labor unrest and other problems in Key West convinced him to move his operation in 1885 to the Tampa area.
He established a cigar making company that would become one of the largest in the world.
Tampa became known as the "Cigar Capital of the World."
He took advantage of a large influx of Italian and Cuban immigrants to build his labor force. He provided housing for his workers and paid good wages for the time.
He also started other businesses in Ybor City including a brick factory, a hotel, and a streetcar company. The city grew to a population of 3,000.
By the time Ybor died in 1896, his company and Ybor City were prospering.
The Great Depression of the 1930s caused a huge reduction in the demand for the fine cigars the company was producing. It also affected the other cigar factories in the town.
People and businesses began to leave Ybor City, and by the 1970s it was abandoned and had become a slum neighborhood.
Things began to turn around in the 1980s and over the years the neighborhood around East 7th Avenue turned into a nightclub and entertainment district.
Many artists gravitated to the neighborhood, and gentrification began to be noticeable as old buildings and homes were renovated and put back into use.
Ybor City's main street was recognized by the American Planning Association in 2008 as one of the "10 Great Streets in America."
There is a vibrant feeling with live music in the air along with the good smells of exotic cooking from the restaurants.
Some of the best restaurants in the Tampa area are in Ybor City. It is a great place for exploring Spanish, Cuban, and Italian food.
Some of the best Cuban sandwiches anywhere can be found in Ybor City.
The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City is the oldest restaurant in Florida, having been founded in 1905. It has always been one of the best places to dine in the entire state.
Centro Ybor is a modern unique shopping, dining, and entertainment venue in the heart of Ybor City.
Its tenants include a furniture store, offices, an Asian restaurant, a Mexican cantina, a sub shop, a Japanese restaurant, craft beer bar, and much more.
Ybor City Museum State Park is housed in the Ferlita Bakery, a historic building, and has self guided tours with exhibits showing the cultural history of the city and the cigar making industry.
The Hotel Haya on 7th Avenue is a perfect place to stay while exploring Ybor City. It's a boutique hotel with a swimming pool, bar, and restaurant.
There is usually plenty of parking in Ybor City, including in a centrally located parking garage and several surface parking lots.