Tampa's historic Latin Quarter, YBOR CITY, covers two hundred acres one mile northeast of downtown Tampa. Despite the decline of the cigar industry after 1920 and vast urban renewal destruction in the 1960's, there's enough of the buildings and atmosphere of Vicente Martinez Ybor's multiethnic manufacturing town, the first in the South, to interest visitors of all ages.

In recent years there has been a tremendous revival of development along Ybor City's colorful main artery, SEVENTH AVENUE, as new restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and art galleries have returned Ybor City to its original status as the nighttime entertainment center of the Florida West Coast.

HOW TO GET THERE: If traveling west of I-4 to Tampa, take Exit 1 on Interstate 4 and cross the first traffic light at 22nd Street, then turn left (southward) on 21st Street. If traveling east on I-4, take Exit 1 and turn right on 21st Street. Seventh Avenue is sixth blocks south of the Interstate.

THE HISTORIC TOUR: Limited parking is available along Seventh Avenue while large off-street public parking is noted on the Ybor City Map. Visitors may wish to drive this tour selecting places to visit or stopping only when interested. Parking garages are on 9th Avenue & 13th Street and at 6th Avenue and 15th Street.

 If you are at 7th Avenue and 21st, you see the:

(1) COLUMBIA RESTAURANT (1905), 2117 7th Avenue, Tampa's oldest restaurant, and with 1200 seats spread across a dozen rooms, one of the world's largest. Founded by Casimire Hernandez after the song :"Columbia, Gem of the Ocean", the restaurant merits a visit just to see the 1936 Don Quizote Room with its scenes by Sergio de Meza or the two-storied courtyard. The original cafe started on the 22nd Street corner and the restaurant expanded.


TURN RIGHT ON 7TH AVENUE. If its morning, you might start to smell Cuban coffee being made at Naviera Coffee Mills in the block that contains on the right the: (2) COLUMBIA BANK (1918), 2018 7th Avenue, founded by John Grimali. A plaque on the sidewalk, one of many walkers will note on this route, honors Tampa's Italian population, most of whom were Sicilians who came to Florida originally for farm work, but who became cigar makers and merchants.

On the next block on the left at 1901 7th Avenue, is the (3) SCOZZARI BUILDING (1893), an early brick structure designed by Pietra and Jose Scozzari It housed the original La Tropicana Restaurant and the Bank of Ybor City. Across the street is the new (4) LA TROPICANA, 1822 7th Avenue, notable as an important Tampa political hangout. More blue collar is the (5) SILVER RING SANDWICH SHOP  sie at  1831 7th Avenue, a culinary landmark for the Cuban sandwich's popularity across Tampa.

TURN RIGHT ON 18TH STREET AND GO TWO BLOCKS past Centennial Plaza and the Ybor City Farmers Market. You may wish to stop to examine the wonderful 1992 statue honoring Ybor City's immigrant population. Look for the statue of my friend TONY PIZZO, the man responsible for creating the first architectural review area in Florida and saving Ybor City in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  On the northern side of the Plaza is the:

(6) YBOR CITY STATE MUSEUM, 1818 9th Avenue, housed in the 1926 Ferlita Bakery. The admission price is small and you'll be fascinated by the exhibits showing the accomplishments of Ybor City's diverse population. Next door is La Casita, three shotgun style cigar workers cottages, which are part of a separate tour.


RETURN TO SEVENTH AVENUE BY 18th STREET and turn right, just before the:

(7) L'UNIONE ITALIANA (1917), 1725 7th Avenue, the three-story Italian Renaissance clubhouse started in 1897. Like many ethnic clubs, the basement housed the canteen, the middle floors had offices and a library, while the top floor has a ballroom. You might recognize the edifice as the hotel in the movie Long Gone.


Across the street is a diversity of businesses including (8) EL SOL CIGARS, 1728 7th Avenue, oldest of Ybor City's cigar stores.  If it is closed, look for the cigar maker at the shop next to the Columbia.

The 1600 block contains several of Ybor City's older structures: The (9) BALDOMERO F. MARCOS BUILDING (1912), 1610 7th Avenue, designed by Kenneth Kennard, featured the area's first light well system. Across the street at 1602 7th Avenue is the (10) GAVINO GUTIERREZ BUILDING (1904), built by the Spanish-born engineer who convinced Vicente Martinez Ybor to bring the cigar industry to Tampa from Key West. The Dixie Hotel was once upstairs and Buffalo Bill's cousin ran the Pathe Theater downstairs.

On the south side of the 1500 block is another Kennard building, the (11) FRANCISCO MAYO BUILDING (1912), 1517 7th Avenue, constructed for cigar manufacturers Serafin Sanchez and Ignacio Haya to house the Spanish Theater.

Across the street is the huge (12) CENTRO ESPANOL (1912), 1526 7th Avenue, saved from destruction by the State of Florida. The Spanish club is now part of the giant CENTRO YBOR entertainment complex which has movies, restaurants, and a Gameworks over on 9th Avenue.  The club canteen is now a store, but the upstairs ballroom houses a beautiful restaurant and the theatre as a comedy club. Tour the club now that it is open.


At the end of the block on the left is the (13) RITZ THEATER (1928), 1502 7th Avenue, once a movie house with an interior resembling a Spanish plaza. A popular showplace now houses this spot where once stood Ybor City's first factory, the 1886 Sanchez & Haya Factory.

BEFORE TURNING RIGHT ON 15TH STREET, admire the corner tower of: (14) LAS NOVEDADEZ RESTAURANT (building) (1892), 1430 7th Avenue, site of a long-time restaurant, where during the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders rode in to eat on their horses. It is said the Cuba Libre (rum and Coke) was created here.


GO UP 15TH STREET AND TURN RIGHT ON 8TH AVENUE, in front of the brick King-Greco Hardware building where three-time Tampa mayor Dick Greco lived. Next door is the: (15) LLANO BUILDING (1903), 1514 8th Avenue, built by Antonio de Rio and still maintaining its iron and wood balcony. Tony Pizzo, Ybor City's favorite historian and author of Tampa Town, started his business career here.

The building next to the hardware store housed for Creatures of Delight, T. Oliver Kopian's infamous creatures made of special plastic into book bags and playthings. Most of Ybor's Seventh Avenue buildings have been converted into nightclubs and restaurants, but many side streets still house artisans and unusual shops.

 TURN LEFT ON 17th STREET AND THEN LEFT ON 9TH AVENUE. The unusual structure on your left is the: (16) YBOR CITY LABOR TEMPLE (1930), a castle-like meeting place for labor unions, now a restaurant/club.  This place once was a site of several muders, rather interesting since it is next to HCC’s Police Academy and Fire Science Center.

CROSS 15TH STREET alongside the Ybor City Campus of Hillsborough Community College where yours truly has taught since 1974. You may wish to park in the Ybor Square parking lot one block further on the left for this corner has several notable sites. On your right is the:

(17) EL PASAJE (CHEROKEE CLUB) (1896), 1318 9th Avenue, the arcaded Italian Renaissance men's club set up by Ybor's business partner Edward Manrara. The second floor ballroom was the spot where politicians for fifty years announced their candidacy for Governor. The last Mayor of West Tampa turned over the keys to that Latin town to the City of Tampa.

Next door is the (18) CUBAN CLUB (1916), 2010 (14th) Avenida Republica de Cuba, a four-story edifice. This was the site of much revolutionary activity in the 1890's.


At 1915 14th Avenue is the hidden brick-made (19) YBOR CITY LAND & DEVELOPMENT BUILDING (1893), once headquarters of Edward Manrara's real estate empire and later the Gonzalez Clinic where many important Tampans were born.  Now it is a stylish bed and breakfast and you should at least enter the lobby to see what it looks like.

Across the street is Ybor City's most famous structure, the massive (20) YBOR FACTORY (YBOR SQUARE) (1886), the city's oldest brick building and once the largest cigar factory in the United States. On the East side is the historic Jose Marti steps where Cuban Revolutionary leader promoted money and manpower for Cuban independence. Just inside these doors on the left was Vicenete Martinez Ybor's first Ybor City office.

The complex consists of three buildings: the (20A) YBOR FACTORY, a three-story brick building now housing shops, offices, and restaurants. The (20B) STEMMERY BUILDING (1902), on the southeast corner of the block, was the Stachelberg Cigar factory.

The (20C) WAREHOUSE BUILDING (1920) contains the popular Spaghetti Warehouse. Note the railroad track remains in the courtyard and the roof top cupola, perfect for watching the status of tobacco ships in the nearby Port of Tampa.

To the south of Ybor Square is (21) JOSE MARTI PARK, 1303 8th Avenue, containing a life-size statue of Jose Marti, is located on the site of the home of famous Afro-Cuban patriot Paulina Pedrosa, Marti's residence in Ybor City. In the backyard here, Marti forgave the Spanish spy who tried to poison him. Appropriately at nearby 1226 7th Avenue, is the (22) UNION MARTI-MACEO, the club formed in the 1890's to serve Ybor City's Afro-Cuban population.

Ybor City’s historic districts extends four blocks west on Palm Avenue to take in the CENTRO ASTURIANO CLUB and the GERMAN-AMERICAN CLUB BUILDING, now a city center.