Food, Entertainment, and Popular culture in Ybor City

Tour curated by: Harley Sharpton, Kyle Seavers, Samuel Irizarry, Tommy Rogers, and the Tampa Historical Team

This tour explores foodways, popular culture, and public entertainment in twentieth-century Ybor City. It was created by USF history students in Dr. K. Stephen Prince's spring 2019 seminar, "Tampa History as U.S. History."

Locations for Tour

Centennial Park is a city park like many others: it has statues, benches, pedestrians, and skateboarders. But one group of guests is somewhat unique: the famed chickens of Ybor City. The close proximity of the trolley stop makes for a great location…

Tampa political fixer and bolita ‘dean’ Charlie Wall built the Yellow House in the 1920s, using it as a headquarters for his bolita operation. Over the course of two decades, Wall lost his control of the bolita rackets to the Trafficante crime…

In 1897, the Florida Brewing Company opened for business, becoming Florida’s first brewery. It remained the state’s only brewery until 1913. Vincente Martinez Ybor and his partner Edward Manara founded the brewery and built it on the local…

Juan More came to Tampa after fighting with the Spanish army in the revolution of 1875 in Cuba. When More arrived in Tampa he had a piece of paper tucked in his pocket that contained his Cuban bread recipe. That recipe would change the face of…

Young Manuel Quintero made his boxing debut on July 25, 1924 when he defeated Young Dobber. Throughout the latter part of the 1920s Quintero took boxing by storm, going 19-1-4 in 1926 and winning the southern lightweight title in 1928. One of the…

Guavaween was an annual Halloween festival in Ybor City that was extraordinarily popular for more than a decade. The first Guavaween was held in 1985. It was started by the Ybor City chamber of Commerce as a fundraiser to help the Tampa Playmakers,…

Fiesta Day celebrates the ethnic diversity of Ybor City. In its early years, Ybor City was primarily an immigrant district, populated by Cuban, Spanish, Italian, and German immigrants, in addition to a small population of African Americans. These…

The Ritz is one of the oldest and most venerable entertainment venues in Ybor City. The Ritz began life as the Rivoli Theater. It was built in 1917 by M. Leo Elliot. Though numerous renovations have changed the layout of the building, the classic…