Historic Ybor City on Tampa Bay
The district is named for
cigar factory owner Vicente Martinez Ybor born in Valencia, Spain, as it was
built to house his factories and their workers. His factory was moved to the
location of present-day Ybor City in 1886, when it moved there from Key West.
Other manufacturers of hand-rolled cigars soon followed, and by the end of the
19th century Ybor City and Tampa was the largest such manufacturer in the world,
and a major source of revenue for the federal government due to high import
duties on tobacco and excise taxes on cigars. In the late 1800s and early 1900s
Ybor City was home to many Cuban, Spanish and Italian immigrants, most of whom
were brought there (or to West Tampa) to work in the area's many cigar
factories. Today, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company is the largest cigar factory
still remaining in Ybor City. J.C. Newman's is headquarted out of the landmark,
red brick, clocktower cigar factory just north of Interstate.
Illegal bolita lotteries, popular in the mid-20th century, were run by organized criminals in the area. Mafioso Santo Trafficante, Sr. consolidated control of area gangs in 1950, which passed to his son, Santo Trafficante, Jr. upon his death in 1954. The younger Trafficante was reputedly also powerful in pre-Castro Cuba. With the advent of mechanization, the cigar factories closed, and the area became another victim of urban renewal.
In recent years, neighborhoods have improved and small businesses have been attracted to Ybor.
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