History Of Ybor City
Ybor City ( /ˈiːbɔr/ EE-bor) is a historic neighborhood that includes the Ybor City Historic District in Tampa, Florida. It is located just northeast of downtown Tampa near the Port of Tampa. The neighborhood has a historically distinct architectural, culinary, cultural, and historical legacy that reflects its multi-ethnic composition. It was unique in the American South as a prosperous manufacturing community built and populated by immigrants.
Ybor City was founded as an independent town in 1885 by a group of cigar manufacturers led by Vicente Martinez-Ybor and was annexed by Tampa in 1887. The original population was mostly composed of Cuban and Spanish immigrants who worked in the cigar factories. Italian and Eastern-European Jewish immigrants following shortly thereafter, predominantly founding retail shops, farms and grocery stores, and other businesses which catered to the cigar industry. In the late 1890s, residents began founding many different mutual aid societies, civic organizations, and organized labor, helping to create a vibrant local civil society.
Ybor City grew and prospered from the 1890s until the Great Depression, when a sharp reduction in the worldwide demand for fine cigars started the area on a slow decline. Some cigar factories closed, others began to mechanize, and virtually all remaining operations decreased production, depriving the neighborhood of many good-paying jobs. As veterans returned from World War II, a steady stream of residents begin to leave the aging neighborhood. This process accelerated through the 1950s and 60s, when the federal Urban Renewal program and the construction of Interstate 4 resulted in the demolition of many structures, including many housing units. Planned redevelopment never took place, and, with its commercial and social core virtually abandoned, Ybor City lapsed into a decades-long period of neglect and decay.
Beginning in the early-1980s, portions of the area near the old business district around 7th Avenue (La Septima) began a slow recovery. In the 1980s, the neighborhood became a bohemian haven for artists. In the 1990s, it evolved into a popular nightlife and entertainment district popular with both tourists and locals alike. Since 2000, many buildings have been renovated or restored and several new multi-family residential units have been built, leading to a steady increase in the neighborhood's population and economic health.
Some portions of the neighborhood have not shared in this recovery. Poverty and blight is an ongoing problem in some enclaves, especially the northern and eastern areas of greater Ybor City.
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