Hillsborough County, Florida

TAMPA, IT'S HISTORY AND PROGRESS




By Graham Forrester.

Tampa is the largest city in Florida. The state census which was completed on April 15 of this year gives her a population of 94,808 and Jacksonville, which has led heretofore, 94,206. This census shows Tampa to have come from 51,068 to her present figure in the five-year period since 1920. Jacksonville had 91,558 under the 1920 count.

The revelations of the census reports as to Tampa's growth are interesting and tell in a forceful way of the city's progress. In 1870, the population was 796; in 1880, it was 720; in 1890, it was 5,532; in 1900, it was 15,839; in 1910, it was 37,782; in 1915, it was 48,160; in 1920, it was 51,608; in 1925, it was 94,808. The percentage increase for the last five-year period is 83.68.

It is found from the recent census that the population of Tampa and the territory immediately contiguous but not included in the city limits is 121,607. Business and commercial growth have, if anything, exceeded the population increase in Tampa. The business section of the city gives the impression of a city of 250,000 population. Business transactions not infrequently involve $1,000,000.

Tampa is unique among Florida cities, at least, if not among those of the nataion. It is a port city, a manufacturing city, a jobbing city, a railroad city, a residence city and a much favored city with winter visitors. Where can be found another city with so many foundations? In Tampa, it is but a short automobile drive from a factory working 2,000 people to the exclusive Bayshore section with its splendid stretch of salt water in front, its palm bordered boulevards, its spreading lawns and imposing mansions. It is a shorter one from extensive railroad yards to the most magnificent public park on the peninsula, which is a favorite "lazying" place and playground for winter visitors. From a wholesale house which does an immense annual business to the famous Tampa Bay Hotel is but a few minutes. Tampa is metropolitan, her people cosmopolitan. Skyscrapers and tropical shrubbery are elbow neighbors. Pure Anglo-Saxon and proud Castilian live side by side. Far and away the larger part of the people are native Americans, native born Floridans, and those who have gathered here from every State in the Union, but there are also to be found French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, Portuguese, Roumanians, Greeks, Poles, Slovaks, Russians, Ruthenians, Bulgarians, Yiddish, Hebrew, Magyar, Finnish, Turkish, Chinese and Japanese among Tampa's population. Tampa's percentage of negro population is less than that of any city in the South.

There is but little note about the history of Tampa. It was established first as a small fishing camp, then became a trading post, where the pioneers of the neighboring section came to buy their supplies. Commerce consisted of small schooners, bringing to Tampa, mainly from Cedar Keys, supplies of merchandise delivered at that point by rail, Tampa not having yet been blessed with railroad connection; while other small boats sailed from Tampa to the fishing points to the South. When the orange industry began to develop and a railroad was built to the struggling town it began to show some signs of future importance, but not sufficient to attract outside attention. During the War Between the States a garrison was established in Tampa, but there was no fighting in or about the city. Its pioneer male citizens were called upon to take part in the various Indian wars.

Tampa first took a place on the map when Henry B. Plant built his railroad into it and accompanied this enterprise with the building of the Tampa Bay Hotel, the great caravansary which remains as the most notable monument of the railroad magnate. This hotel is the property of the city of Tampa, and is the only hotel in the country which is city-owned. The Tampa Bay became a popular winter resort from the beginning and served to bring to Tampa many distinguished visitors who spread the news of the attractions of the city and section throughout the other parts of the country, with the result that a movement of home-seekers and investors set in, very slowly at first, but later reaching a steady and increasing volume.

During the Spanish-American war Tampa occupied a prominent place in the headlines and date lines of the newspapers by reason of the fact that it was selected as the camp and point of embarkation for the army for the invasion of Cuba, under General Shafter. Some 50,000 troops encamped in and about the city and a great fleet of transports conveyed these soldiers from Port Tampa to Cuba. Theodore Roosevelt, then merely the lieutenant-colonel of the "Rough Riders," camped with his command at Tampa and sailed from Port Tampa to the exploits which really formed his introduction to the people of the United States. On the site of his camp the city is erecting a commodious school building which will bear his name. The most notable men of the country visited Tampa during these stirring times and comments of the papers were largely unfavorable, owing to the fact that the town had no public improvements to speak of, its streets being unpaved and undrained, its facilities for caring for crowds inadequate and its sanitary conditions bad. It was not until after this experience that the citizens of Tampa took stock of these deficiencies and set about correcting them.

One who saw Tampa in the army days of 1898 would be astounded to see the present modern city, with all its up-to-date improvements. Perhaps no better index to the progress of Tampa is to be found that is contained in a comparison of the public improvements and utilities which it has to-day with those which it so greatly lacked in Spanish war days.

Tampa had on February 1, this year, 225.42 miles of paved streets; 410 miles of paved sidewalks; 111 miles of sanitary and 7.5 miles of storm sewers and $700,000 from a bond issue for a system of general storm sewers and so forth. The water system is municipally owned and on the first of this year was serving 14,614 patrons. A new water plant is now under construction at a cost in excess of 1,200,000. Tampa maintains a modern police department and one of the best fire departments in the South. Both of these are kept at high standards and emphasize the determination to provide the very best protection for person and property. The city's interest in health and sanitation are evidenced by this year's appropriations of $150,696.35 for the sanitary department; $13,663 for the street cleaning department; $37,755 for the health department; $19,170 for the engineer's department, operation of sewers, purification plants, etc.; $3,390 for sewer maintenance. The city owns and operates a commodious municipal dock which was constructed at a cost of $600,000. Three bridges span the Hillsborough River, connecting the eastern and western sections of the city. Three more are to be immediately constructed, at a cost of more than $300,000 each. The city hall occupies a half block in the heart of the business district and is one of the handsomest public buildings in the South.

Tampa's city government is by commission. Perry G. Wall, mayor-commissioner; W. J. Barritt, mayor pro tem; W. A. Adams, S. L. Lowry, Sr., and James McCants constitute the Board of Commissioners. They have envisioned Tampa and are helping to build it wisely and conservatively, yet most progressively. It was during the term of former Mayor D. B. McKay, from 1910-1920, that Tampa caught the spirit of municipal improvement and made most marked advance in this respect. Most of the public buildings bear Colonel McKay's name on their corner stones or historical plates, as does the splendid bridge across the Hillsborough, on LaFayette Street. What is being done now in the way of municipal building and construction enterprises is being builded largely upon the foundations then laid.

In direct connection, it is worth while to consider the public utilities in Tampa. Gas and electricity are furnished by the Tampa Gas and Tampa Electric Companies, respectively. The gas company laid twenty-two miles of mains into new territory last year and increased its patrons by 1,867. On December 31, 1924, the books of this company showed 11,437 gas stoves in service in Tampa. At the close of last year the electric company was serving 19,350 patrons.

Telephone service is supplied by the Peninsular Telephone Company. On January 1, this year, it had 14,546 stations in service in the city.

Street car service is given by the Tampa Electric Company. The system covers the entire city and suburbs, extending to Port Tampa and Sulphur Springs. The new type of one-man cars are used. The company has two generating stations and all modern appliances and apparatus for up-to-date service. Fares are 5 cents, with a half fare for school children and a liberal system of transfers. This rate of fare has been maintained continuously, even through the World War period when street car fares were increased everywhere else.

Tamp does business. It has 13 banks, with three more under charter and actively preparing for their opening days. On December 31, 1924, the capital, surplus and undivided profits of these totaled $6,714,770.65. This is $1,714,770.65 more than was paid for the entire State of Florida when it was purchased from Spain. On the same date bank deposits amounted to $46,743,396.29. In 1910 bank clearings were $43,387,295.09. In 1920, they reached $125,210,452.16. For 1924, they were $195,979,545.41. The first three months of this year have seen these increase at the rate of $2,500,000 a month.

Seeking for the source of this large volume of business we come first upon the port. Tampa is the seventh largest port in the United States, according to United States government statistics. It is the nearest adequate port of this country to the Panama Canal; so declared in a resolution formally adopted by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the National Congress and signed by the President of the United States. Customs receipts last year were $2,063,051. The water tonnage was 2,190,268, of which 1,010,595 tons were phosphate. It is literally true that "ships sailing the seven seas" put in and out of Tampa. The leading import is oil. Thousand upon thousands of barrels of fuel and refined oil are brought in each month from Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. Five oil companies have large storage tanks here; the Gulf Refining Company, Standard Oil Company, National Petroleum Corporation, Mexican Petroleum Corporation and the Texas Company, distributing from Tampa throughout a large portion of the South. Tobacco comes next, large quantities being brought in from Cuba to be converted into Tampa's famous cigars. Cocoanuts constitute a large item. A year's import of nuts from Honduras and Jamaica through Tampa was 10,297,000, New York alone outranking this city as a cocoanut importing port. Cedar logs come in large quantities from Cuba and Mexico for the manufacture of cigar boxes and containers. Ebony, mahogany, mahowa and other Central and South American hardwoods are imported for use in local furniture factories and for distribution throughout the United States. Phosphate, lumber, naval stores and citrus fruits are the leading exports, in the order named, followed by quantities of general merchandise and cargo furnished Cuba, Mexico and South America by Tampa dealers. Regular sailings are maintained between Tampa and practically all of the important ports of this county---especially those of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Next is the "back country" upon which Tampa relies and which relies upon Tampa. There is not to be found anywhere a city so advantageously situated in this regard. The estimated yearly income of Southwest Florida is $300,000,000 the year. More than the usual proportion of this which finds its way to the commercial center of a district---and Tampa is the undisputed commercial center of this one---comes here, furnishing cargoes for ships, buying Tampa's manufactured products and swelling wholesale and retail trade.

Then follows the manufactories. Tampa is not only the largest city in Florida but, also, the greatest industrial center. It is a manufacturing city. The State Department of Agriculture lists Hillsborough County as manufacturing over $20,000,000 worth of products per annum. "Over $20,000,000 worth" is rather an indefinite amount. The total is, probably, nearly twice as much. Practically all of this is done in Tampa. Long known as "The Cigar City," because of the fact that it manufactures more clear Havana cigars than any place in the world, Tampa deserves now to be known, as "The Industrial City." It has more than 400 manufacturing plants, large and small. Something like half of these are cigar factories. The others cover a wide range, from a furniture factory to one where rubber stamps are made. Noticeable among these, for the reason that they can not be conducted everywhere, are a glass and bottle factory and a large fish chowder cannery. The weekly industrial pay roll of Tampa is $755,135.00. Location, climatic conditions and excellent transportation facilities---both by rail and water---the improved harbor and banking facilities are reasons enough for the multipling of manufacturing plants in Tampa until it comes to be the leading industrial city of the South.

Because it is so outstanding, a more detailed telling of the cigar industry in Tampa is interesting: More than 200 cigar factories, big and little, are listed at the Tampa office of the Internal Revenue Bureau. Nine of these factories are known as "bonded" establishments, bringing in their tobacco from Cuba under bond and operating under the direct supervision of the United States Customs and Internal Revenue Bureaus.


Tampa's cigar industry supports, directly and indirectly, at least 25,000 person---enough to make a fair-sized city in itself, and a cigar-making population greater than the population of any city in Florida except Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami and Pensacola. By far the larger proportion of the Tampa cigar-makers are from Cuba, Key West and Spain, with a sprinkling from other West Indian points. Five factories turn out the cedar boxes and tin containers in which Tampa-made cigars are sent to ever corner of the earth. One Tampa cigar factory---the establishment of Cuesta, Rey & Co.---is, by royal appointment, purveyor of cigars to King Alfonso, of Spain, and the Spanish royal household.

Illustrative of the fame and wide travels of Tampa-made cigars is a true story which is too good not to be told here. Some two years ago a gentleman from one of the United States was in Rome, Italy. He was dreadfully lonesome and homesick, and entirely unable to speak the language of the land. One day he was sitting in a park, when to his surprise his neighbor on the park bench turned to him and asked in fairly good English, if he would have a cigar. Making affirmative reply he was handed a Hava-Tampa. He enjoyed a good smoke and a pleasant hour with a new friend. The aftermath of this incident is striking. The gentleman to whom that cigar was given in far off Italy says that he was impressed that a city which turned out such cigars must be a good one. The result is that he is now a large property owner in Tampa.

Tampa does a large wholesale business. It has 140 wholesale concerns, including all lines of business, serving a population of 500,000, with a trade total aggregating $50,000,000 annually. One of the outstanding recent features is the enlarging of its trade with Southern countries, particularly Cuba, the Isle of Pines and Honduras. This trade is handled in connection with the importation of fruit from these countries. This unlimited development.

Retail trade in Tampa undoubtedly averages larger per capita than in almost any city in this country. This is due to the character of the population and the large number of winter visitors. It would be a matter of impossibility, almost, to ever prepare an accurate list of the retail establishments here; but among them are 5 big department stores, 40 dry goods stores, over 300 retail grocery stores, 85 retail drug stores, 18 hardward stores, over 50 furniture stores; 15 jewelry stores, over 100 restaurants, 30 bakeries, 8 ice factories and no telling how many, or how varied, other retail establishments.

Factories, wholesale and retail concerns are housed in buildings which bespeak solidity and present the sky line of a much larger city. Among the outstanding buildings of Tampa may be mentioned the Citizens Bank Building, Maas Bros. Department Store, Citrus Exchange Building, Masonic Temple, Hillsboro Hotel, City Hall, Peninsular Telephone Building, Stovall Building, Stovall Nelson Building, Bayview Hotel, Tampa Terrace Hotel, Federal Building, Bayshore Hotel, Exchange Bank, DeSoto Hotel, Tribune Building, and many others. Work is now under way for a new 13-story building for the First National Bank. The Tampa Board of Trade is soon to erect a 15-story structure, and plans are made for the 14-story Pulver-Plant Hotel.

Banking, shipping, wholesaling, retailing and building are not all that Tampa tinks about. Tampa's school buildings are modern in construction and equipment, and additional buildings are added yearly to take care of the ever-increasing demand for more space. The city schools as well as those throughout the county are operated on the same modern standard as schools in much larger and more densely populated cities in the North and East.

Pupils graduated from the senior high schools are admitted to all colleges to which graduates from any high school are admitted. The course of study comprises branches which will fit the pupil for the commercial world as well as for more advanced academic work. Manual training, home economics, which include sewing, cooking and home management, are taught; current history and events, science, chemistry, botany and the rudiments of agricultural work, physical culture for the girls and athletics for the boys are additional features. An athletic instructor is in charge of the physical training department for the high school boys, and a physical directress has charge of that department for the high school girls. Members of the graduating classes who expect to go into teaching work may take a teacher's training course as an additional feature of their last year of high school work. The high school also recognizes credits in musical training taken outside of the school if proper examinations are passed.

A great many people who would prefer to spend the winter months in Florida hestitate on account of taking the children out of school, and Tampa has eliminated this worry on the visitor's part by admitting the children of winter visitors to public school on the same basis as resident children. This makes it possible for parents coming to Tampa for a part or all of the winter season to enter their children for the period without a break in their school work.

Aside from the excellent public schools maintained there are a number of private schools conducted by competent educators, and there are two business colleges teaching various commercial lines. There are kindergartens, convents, dancing, vocal and instrumental music, and classical schools. Just now $1,000,000 is being expended in the construction of new school buildings in the city.

A total of ninety-nine churches and chapels, representing practically all denominations, provide for the spiritual needs of Tampa's people in addition to the Salvation Army, the Volunteers of America, and similar organizations that combine the religious element with general uplife and rehabilitation work and charitable activities. Church property in Tampa, and immediate suburbs, represents aggregate investment value of nearly $3,000,000, while the combine membership of the city's churches is over 18,000. Among the church edifices are to be found some of the finest in the South; while the work that is being done in the outlying districts having large foreign populations is a wonderful instrumentality in the Americanization of aliens coming to our shores.

The Tampa Public Library system contains 22,045 books. Each of these books were let on an average of seven times during the past year, making a total circulation of 163,423 volumes, which is an increase of 2,200 over last year's record. The appropriation of the library was $18,500. Of this 10 cents was devoted to circulation of each book, $3,213 was spent for new books; 2,389 volumes were purchased and 109 were donated. Since, however, 1,193 books were worn out, lost or stolen, the total increase in books is 1,305 volumes. The library subscribes to 149 magazines and periodicals, including one newspaper from almost every State. Eight of these are new. During the year the library has registered 2,790 borrowers, bringing the total to 10,891 patrons. A small branch was opened last April at DeSoto Park. This branch has 500 books belonging to the Seaboard Air Line Traveling Library, in addition to library collections. The Story Hours have continued popular, with an attendance of over 1,000 per month.

Tampa's present hospitals are the Gordon Keller, owned and operated by the city. There are accommodations for seventy-five patients. This hospital is rated high among the institutions of the State. The Bayside Hospital is an excellent private institution, located in a quiet spot on Bayshore boulevard, on Hillsborough Bay. It has every modern equipment, with accommodations for fifty patients. The Centro Asturiano Club maintains a sanitarium (the Centro Asturiano Sanitarium) which can handle thirty-five patients. The Centro Espanol Sanitarium, operated by a similar club, has accommodations for sixty. Dr. Cook's Sanitarium is another private institution, having accommodations for thirty-six patients. The Clara Frye Hospital, for negroes, is a private institution, but is assisted by the city. A great many charity case are handled here. A maternity home has been started by Miss Nelle French. The institutionn will accommodate six lying-in patients with the surrounds of home life. Dr. Mills' Sanitarium is a private institution, caring for nervous cases only, and has accommodations for twelve patients. Extensive additions are to be made to the municipal hospital holdings, $1,350,000 having been provided for the erection and equipment of new hospitals for both whites and negroes.

Tampa gets the daily news through two leading daily newspapers---the Tampa Morning Tribune and the Tampa Daily Times. These papers are everything that publications in a live growing city like Tampa are supposed to be. Both carry full Associated Press leased wire reports, maintain a staff of correspondents throughout the State, are subscribers to the best syndicate and feature news service and have complete and modern plants. Their circulation extends from coast to coast. They cover the field and rank among the best daily papers of the Nation. There are also published here The Florida Grower, a weekly magazine of national reputation, devoted primarily to the agricultural and citrus fruit development; The Observer, a weekly newspaper devoted to local issues and activities; the Packing House News, monthly, devoted to fruit and vegetable packing houses and allied interests; Suniland, a monthly magazine of high quality; La Prensa and La Tradaccion, Spanish daily papers; El International, a Spanish weekly devoted to the cigar makers; The Bullentin, a negro weekly; Citrus Industry, a monthly publication whose field is indicated by its name; The Free Press, a weekly Labor paper.

Tampa is a city of organizations and clubs, civic, commercial and social. It has a live Board of Trade, Merchants' Association, Rotary, Kiwanis, Civitan, Exchange, Optimist and other civic clubs, lodges of all the fraternal orders , women's clubs for every line of activity, a Children's Home, an Old People's Home, a Young Men's Christian Association, a Young Woman's Christian Association, each having its own building, besides the usual charitable and benevolent bodies. The city has recently adopted the Community Chest plan of raising funds needed for the maintenance of its charities and benevolences. A large and modern Children's Home has just been built and a $125,000 Home for the Aged is being erected. The Masonic Order has several fine lodges, the Elks own a beautiful clubshouse, and the Mystic Shrine is building a magnificent temple, and other secret orders own their own homes. The Tampa Yacht and Country Club, on the bayshore, is the scene of many social functions and the Palma Ceia and Rocky Point Golf Clubhouses are attractive and comfortable. Six miles from the city is the great Temple Terraces development, with a splendid clubhouse, surrounded by a golf course and beautiful cottages, and by many acres of orange groves, which will soon be producing liberally of Florida's famous fruit. On an island in the bay, within half a mile of the business center of the city is the Davis Island Tennis Club. This organization will have one of the most attractive clubhouses and grounds in the entire country.

Tampa has the most beautiful park in the country, the former Tampa Bay hotel grounds, now city property and known as Plant Park. This park was planned and perfected by the late Henry B. Plant for the pleasure of guests at the big hotel. Since the city came into possession of it, the park has been further beautified. It is situated on the Hillsborough River, near the center of the city, rich in tropical growth and flowers. A part of the part is set apart for the amusement of tourists, with roque, tennis, horseshoe and croquet courts; and the municipal band plays daily during the winter at a handsome band-stand. Adjacent to Plant Park is Plant Field, where baseball and football are played and where the South Florida Fair is held. This field has a fine half-mile race track, commodious concrete grand stand and substantial fair exhibit buildings. Big league baseball clubs have done their spring training there for years. Ballast Point Park and Sulphur Springs Park are attractive pleasure grounds near the city. DeSoto Park is the location of a tourist camp, where visitors who prefer to "camp out" are provided with free water, light and other conveniences, in one of the prettiest spots in the country. Tampa now has eighty acres of park and playgrounds, valued at $2,000,000. Two golf courses afford ample accommodations to those fond of this sport, both eighteen holes, with handsome clubhouses.

The South Florida Fair and Gasparilla Carnival attract thousands of visitors to Tampa each year. The fair and carnival are held in February. From thirty to forty Florida counties have exhibits here, and Mexico and Canada also participate in the exhibits. During the progress of the fair, many amusement features are offered. The South Florida Fair is conducted by a non-profit stock company, and the profits are used in making additions to the large group of exhibit buildings located in Plant Park. Ye Mystic Crewe of Gasparilla is an old society organization which each year produces the famouse Gasparilla Carnival and ball, which is one of the most unique and brilliant social functions of the winter season in the South.

The famous bathing beaches of the Gulf Coast are all within a few hours' ride from Tampa on fine paved roads. Beautiful Clearwater Beach, Haven Beach and Indian Rocks are visited by large crowds throughout the year, where bathing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico is enjoyed nearly every day of the year. St. Petersburg Beach, Pass-a-Grille and Anna Maria Key are also famous gulf shore resorts, which offer fine bathing and fishing all the year.

Getting back to more material things, it is to be truly said that Tampa's transportation facilities are excellent. The city is served by the following line: Seaboard Air Line, Atlantic Coast Line Railway, both affording through service to the East; Tampa Southern Railway, to Manatee River points; Tampa and Gulf Coast Railway, to St. Petersburg and West Coast points; Peninsular and Occidental Steamship Company, Port Tampa to Key West and Havana; Gulf and Southern Steamship Company, to New Orleans; Inter-Ocean Steamship Company, freight steamers to all ports of the world; Lykes Brothers Steamship Company, freight steamers to many ports; besides small steamer lines to St. Pettersburg,[sic] the Manatee River, Fort Myers. Besides these, scores of vessels, steam and sail, carry cargo in and out of the port, and a large fleet of fishing vessels. The Seaboard and Atlantic Coast Line operate through service from the East to Tampa and other near-by points. Connections are also made with other lines for the Middle States and the West. There is a commodious and attractive union railway station.

Besides these means of transportation and communication, the paved highways coming into Florida from all directions afford motor routes for people of all sections of the Union to Tampa and South Florida; and these highways, during the tourist season, are used by thousands of cars daily. Tampa is the hub from which radiates more miles of paved roads than from any city of like size in the world.

Building permits issued in Tampa last year nearly doubled those for 1923. A recent survey by The Tampa Daily Times showed $34,000,000 to be put into development work in Tampa this year. Building permits for the first three months of 1925 have nearly come up to the 1924 total. More than 800 new residences have been built in Tampa and immediate suburbs since October, 1924. The only answer to the question "When will it end?" is that it has fairly begun.

Tampa has some outstanding developments and subdivisions. Among these may be mentioned Beach Park, Golf View Place, Belmar, Manor Hills, Parkland Estates, and on and on. To name them all would mean to quote a liberal section from the city directory, to cull the newspaper columns for months past and to have an intimate acquaintance with every realtor in the city. There is one, however, which is astonishing. This is Davis Islands---Tampa in the Bay. Possessed of a large vision D. P. Davis secured control of three barren and unsightly islands within sight of Tampa's famous Hyde Park section. Seawalls have been constructed, sand dredged from the bottom of the bay and acres of desirable and splendidly situated land have been developed. Paved boulevards have been laid. Pavilions, club houses, apartments and hotels are planned. There are to be parks, amusement centers and swimming pools. And this spot, considered worthless a year ago is to be one of the prettiest and best built in all Florida. Already there are a number of houses there and the first family moved into its handsome new home on Davis Islands about ten days prior to the time this is being written. This project is to be a $30,000,000 development. On the first day that the lots were placed on sale buyers stood in line for forty hours to secure them, and sales ran to more than $3,000,000---and there hadn't been a foot of seawall completed at that time. This is, of course, exceptional, yet it very clearly indicates what people think of Tampa and its future.

Across Old Tampa Bay, between Tampa and St. Petersburg, and cutting down the distance between these two cities by fifteen miles there has been constructed within the past twelve months the world's longest concrete bridge---the famous Gandy Bridge. It was the dream of George S. Gandy, known before he became possessed by the bridge idea as "Dad" Gandy and hailed as a royal friend and splendid company, but known after he had seen the bridge as "Bridge" Gandy and somewhat of a bore. Now he is known as one of the nation's foremost constructionists and developers. The total length of the bridge and causeways is 5 and 3/4 miles. Approximately 3 and 1/4 miles of this is a sand filled causeway forty feet wide at the top, with a slope more gradual than the natural slope of the beaches and islands in the vicinity. In the center of the causeway is a concrete road twenty-four feet wide. The remaining distance of 2 and 1/2 is spanned by a re-inforced concrete road bridge, twenty-four feet wide. The structure was completed and opened last November, the opening exercises being attended by the governors of more than half of the States of the Union. This bridge cost approximately $4,000,000. It is operated upon a toll basis, and the receipts for the first six months show clearly that it is to be a paying proposition. The Gandy Bridge is the highest sort of evidence that they go at things in a large way in this magical land of Southwest Florida and in this wonderful city of Tampa---but that it pays.

Tampa, like all Southwest Florida, claims as its greatest asset its climate. A nationally known business man, the president of one of the country's largest insurance companies, has said of this climate that it is "the key which unlocks the doors of Paradise." The gentleman in charge of the United States weather bureau at Tampa doesn't speak of it quite so poetically, but he does speak quite as forcibly: "Year in and year out, Tampa has about a fine a climate, day in and day out, as any other place where weather reports are available," says Mr. W. J. Bennett, United States Weather Bureau Meterologist, stationed in Tampa. He points out that the records from 127 weather bureau stations show all but seven have recorded a lower temperature than the coldest weather ever recorded at Tampa, and all but ten have recorded a higher temperature than Tampa has ever had. Mr. Bennett says further: "Tampa has about as good a climate the year around as any place in the world. Summer temperatures are moderate, winter temperatures are moderate, sudden changes are rare. Tampa has not the enervating monotony of a truly tropical climate. There is enough difference in the seasons to make each one as it comes thoroughly enjoyable. Spring for its wonderful sunshine, singing birds and wealth of flowers; summer for its equability, refreshing showers, luxuriant vegetation; autumn for its bright, warm days and cool nights; and winter for its invigorating alterations of warm and cool days, with an exceptional touch of frost, and for the harvesting of the golden wealth of citrus fruits."

Tampa has an annual rainfall of 50 inches, most of which comes during the summer months which is responsible for the delightful summer climate. This rainfall, with the location of Tampa on the bays, near the Gulf, and surrounded with lakes, contribute to the moderation of the temperatures both winter and summer. These same conditions give Hillsborough County its advantages for the productions of citrus fruits, early vegetables and tropical fruits.

Only four cities in the South have a lower death rate than Tampa. The death rate for 1923 was 12 per cent. The birth rate for the same year was 21 per cent. The marvelous climate and excellent living conditions combine to make Tampa's fine showing in this respect. Health conditions and sanitary regulations are carefully watched and everything possible done to maintain the exceptional record of the city. The city owns and operates a fine, modern hospital, while a number of private institutions are located within its limits. A city nursing service is maintained by the Red Cross.

Clumsily enough put together, because of the wealth of material from which to select, you have a mosaic here of what Tampa is and an indication of what it is to be: The aim of her people is 300,000 population by 1930. Here, also, you find what makes Tampa what it is. To repeat, in summary: Its location. Its port. Its marvelous "back country." Its industrial enterprises. Its vision, backed up by faith and works. Its climate. No wonder Tampa claims its most fitting name to be "The City of Wonderful Opportunity."

There is something behind Tampa, something worth while in agricultural lands, truck lands, the greatest citrus lands in Florida, beautiful lakes and rivers, waters swarming with all kinds of food fishes and crustaceans, in fact in and around Tampa everything is grown except winter wheat.

Tampa has never been a boom town, she has grown gradually in proportion to her growing industries. She has never made a grandstand play for winter visitors like the East Coast cities, and property values have been and are modest in comparison with cities and towns of much less importance.

But Tampa has started. She gives her winter guests the best there is to give them---music, recreation, amusements, excellent accommodation, stores equal to New York, restaurants equal to the best in the world, with a wonderful Spanish city, where everything is reminiscent of the Old World, with its wonderful and strange foods that tickle the palate and call for an encore, and where the musical language of the people is heard in opera with every Spanish accompaniment in exotic color scheme and brillance.

Some one has written of a scene in the environs of Tampa: "Overhead the blue Florida sky, with its fleecy white clouds, merges with the green leaves of the trees, and the myriad colors of the air plants which cling to the wateroaks. Here and there one sees a cluster of bananas, their great green fronds pointing skyward, here the daintly tipped pink leaves of the mango, or the deeper green of the avocado, now an orange and grapefruit grove dots the river bank, and trees of the paupia. The air is filled with the song of the mocking bird, the perfume of the orange blossoms, the yellow jasmine, the cape jasmine, and a score of other flowers which in Florida seem to bloom perpetually, an Eden and a Paradise in one; a place of rest for the weary and of perpetual enjoyment for the strong and vigorous who want to be outdoors from dawn to dusk." Is there any wonder that visitors come by the thousands and that many of them linger to make it home? Is there room for surprise that residents are content and filled with civic pride? Why not call Tampa the entrace-way to the Land of Promise? The Governor of one of the States recently wrote a friend of his: "By the way, I think Tampa will be the great city of Florida. It has the territory back of it and I believe in its future. If I were settling in Florida, I would want to go to Tampa." That Governor knows---Tampa!

[Source: The Book of Florida; Pages 91 through 106. Published by The Florida Editors Association; 1925.] Transcribed and submitted by Sheila Pitts Massie.


Hillsborough County Home Page | Florida Home Page | Genealogy Trails Home Page |


Genealogy Trails ©