Understand the Background of Tampa, FL
Historic Tampa, FL has been integral to Florida’s and the United States’ history for its part in several wars and its trading and tourism industries. Its background is rich with United States and Florida history.
Early History in Tampa, FL
The area’s indigenous population consisted of several Native American tribes. There was the Tocobaga at the Northern end of Old Tampa Bay, the Uzita at the South shore of the Bay, and The Mocoso in the East. Following this Native population, several Spanish expeditions came through the area beginning in 1528 with the Narvaez expedition, which kept moving in pursuit of treasures that were never found.
Hernandez de Soto’s expedition was able to sign a peace treaty with Tocobaga, but European diseases proceeded to destroy the native population.
In 1763, Great Britain got control of Florida at the end of the Seven Years War, and the area was renamed “Hillsborough Bay” after the colony’s Secretary of State Lord Hillsborough. Spain regained Florida in 1783 as a result of the Treaty of Paris at the end of the American Revolution, but in 1821, the United States purchased Florida from Spain.
As a result of its location, the entirety of Florida seceded from the United States with the South, and Tampa’s government shut down during the Civil War. The city was decimated and struggled post-war to regain stability. There was also a large outbreak of yellow fever, and a large amount of yellow fever scares that occured in the 1860s and 1870s in the city as a result of mosquitoes from nearby swamplands.
After years of struggling, in 1883 Phosphate was discovered in the Bone Valley area near Tampa. This discovery made the city the Phosphate capital of the world and gave it a launching point from which it could rebuild itself. Soon after, in 1884, railroad mogul Henry B. Plant added a railroad line across central Florida, allowing the city to be connected to the larger railroad network.
In 1891, Plant opened the glamorous Tampa Bay Hotel, which now serves as the campus for the University of Tampa.
Growth and Development in Tampa
The historic Ybor City was created in 1886 around Vicente Martinez Ybor’s cigar manufacturing business, which caused an economic boom for Tampa and allowed it to rise out of its post-Civil War slump. As the city continued to grow, it also became an embarkation center for American forces going to Cuba for the Spanish-American War.
It became a site of development for the Peter O. Knight airport and Drew Field, both of which were Works Progress Administration projects during the Great Depression.
A few months after the infamous terrorist attacks on September eleventh, the city experienced a copycat attack on a Bank of America building that yielded no deaths or injuries other than the pilot.
In 2004, the hurricane season hit Tampa hard with hurricanes Frances, Jeanne, Charley, and Ivan.
In more recent years, the city government’s efforts to redevelop the city have yielded the Riverwalk, Tampa Bay History Center, Children’s Museum, Museum of Art, and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.
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