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Tampa ( ) is a Gulf Coast city in the U.S. state of Floridamarker. It serves as the county seat for Hillsborough Countymarker. Tampa is located on the west coast of Florida. The population of Tampa in 2000 was 303,447. According to the 2008 estimates, the city's population had grown to 340,882, making it the 53rd largest city in the United States.

Tampa is a part of the metropolitan area most commonly referred to as the Tampa Bay Areamarker. For U.S. Census purposes, Tampa is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida MSAmarker. The four-county area is composed of roughly 2.7 million residents, making it the second largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the state, and the fourth largest in the Southeastern United States, behind Miamimarker, Washington, D.C.marker, and Atlantamarker. The Greater Tampa Bay area has just over 4 million residents and generally includes the Tampa and Sarasotamarker metro areas. The Tampa Bay Partnership and U.S. Census data showed an average annual growth of 2.47 percent, or a gain of approximately 97,000 residents per year. Between 2000 and 2006, the Greater Tampa Bay Market has experienced a combined growth rate of 14.8 percent, growing from 3.4 million to 3.9 million and hitting the 4 million people mark on April 1, 2007.The Tampa Bay Designated Market Area (DMA) is the largest media market in the state of Florida and the fourteenth largest media market in the United States.

In 2008, Tampa was ranked as the 5th best outdoor city by Forbes. A 2004 survey by the NYUmarker newspaper ranked Tampa as a top city for "twenty-somethings".


The word "Tampa" may mean "sticks of fire" in the language of the Calusa, a Native American tribe that once lived south of today’s Tampa Baymarker. This might be a reference to the many lightning strikes that the area receives during the summer months. Other historians claim the name means "the place to gather sticks".

Toponymist George R. Stewart writes that the name was the result of a miscommunication between the Spanish and the Indians, the Indian word being "itimpi", meaning simply "near it". The name first appears in the "Memoir" of Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda (1575), who had spent 17 years as a Calusa captive. He calls it "Tanpa" and describes it as an important Calusa town. While "Tanpa" may be the basis for the modern name "Tampa", archaeologist Jerald Milanich places the Calusa village of Tanpa at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, the original "Bay of Tanpa". A later Spanish expedition did not notice Charlotte Harbor while sailing north along the west coast of Florida and assumed that the current Tampa Bay was the bay they sought. The name was accidentally transferred north.

Map makers were using the term Bay or Bahia Tampa as early as 1695.

Early explorations

Hernando de Soto.
Not much is known about the cultures who called the Tampa Bay area home before European contact. When Spanishmarker explorers arrived in the 1520s, they found a ring of Tocobaga villages around the northern half of Tampa Bay from modern-day Pinellas Countymarker to Tampa and Calusa villages along the southern portion of the bay in modern-day Manatee County.

Expeditions led by Pánfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto landed near Tampa to look for gold and possibly start a colony. Neither conquistador stayed in the region for long once it became clear that the local riches were only abundant fish and shellfish. The native inhabitants, who derived most of their resources from the sea, repulsed any Spanish attempt to establish a permanent settlement or convert them to Catholicism.

The newcomers brought a weapon against which the natives had no defense: infectious disease. Archeological evidence reveals a total collapse of the native cultures of Florida in the years after European contact. The Tampa area was depopulated and ignored for more than 200 years.

Seasonal residents and U.S control

In the mid-1700s, events in England’s American colonies drove the Seminole Indians into the wilds of north Florida. During this period, the Tampa area began receiving (seasonal) residents: Cuban fishermen. They stayed in temporary settlements on the shore of Tampa Bay along a small freshwater stream near today’s Hyde Parkmarker neighborhood.

In 1821, the United Statesmarker purchased Florida from Spain (see Adams-Onís Treaty), partly to reduce Indian raids, and partly to cut down slave escapes from Georgia. One of the first U.S. actions in its new territory was a raid which destroyed Angola, a village built by escaped slaves on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay.

Frontier days

The Treaty of Moultrie Creek (1823) created a large Indian reservation in the interior of the peninsula of Florida. As part of efforts to establish control over the vast swampy wilderness, the U.S. government built a series of forts and trading posts in the new territory. "Cantonment Brooke" was established in 1823 by Colonels George Mercer Brooke and James Gadsden at the mouth of the Hillsborough River on Tampa Bay, at the site of the Tampa Convention Centermarker in Downtown Tampamarker. In 1824, the post was officially named Fort Brookemarker.

Tampa was very much an isolated frontier outpost during its first decades of existence. The sparse civilian population practically abandoned the area when the Second Seminole War flared up in late 1835. After almost seven years of vicious fighting, the Seminoles were forced away from the Tampa region and many settlers returned.

The Territory of Florida had grown enough by 1845 to become the 27th state.

Four years after statehood, on January 18, 1849, Tampa had also grown enough to officially incorporate as the "Village of Tampa". Tampa was home to 185 inhabitants, not including military personnel stationed at Fort Brooke. The city's first census count in 1850, however, listed Tampa-Fort Brooke as having 974 residents, inclusive of the military personnel.

Tampa was reincorporated as a town on December 15, 1855 and Judge Joseph B. Lancaster became the first Mayor in 1856.

Tampa during the Civil War

Barracks and tents at Fort Brooke
During the American Civil War, Florida seceded along with most of the southern states to form the Confederate States of America. Fort Brooke was manned by Confederate troops, and martial law was declared in Tampa in January 1862. Tampa's city government ceased to operate for the duration of the war.

In late 1861, the Union Navy set up a blockade around many southern ports to cut off the Confederacy from outside help, and several ships were stationed near the mouth of Tampa Baymarker. Blockade runners based in Tampa were able to repeatedly slip through the blockade to trade cattle and citrus for needed supplies, mainly with Spanish Cuba.

Union gunboats sailed up Tampa Bay to bombard Fort Brooke and the surrounding city of Tampa. The Battle of Tampa on June 30 to July 1, 1862 was inconclusive, as the shells fell ineffectually, and there were no casualties on either side.

More damaging to the Confederate cause was the Battle of Fort Brooke on October 17 to October 18, 1863. Two Union gunboats shelled the fort and surrounding town and landed troops, who found blockade runners hidden up the Hillsborough River, and destroyed them.

The local militia mustered to intercept the Union troops, but they were able to return to their ships after a short skirmish and headed back out to sea.

The war endedmarker in Confederate defeat in April 1865. In May 1865, federal troops arrived in Tampa to occupy the fort and the town as part of Reconstruction. They remained until August 1869.

The Lean Years

The Reconstruction period was hard on Tampa. With little industry, and land transportation links limited to bumpy wagon roads from the east coast of Florida, Tampa was a fishing village with very few people, and poor prospects for development. Throughout its history, Tampa had been affected by yellow fever epidemics borne by mosquitoes from the surrounding swampland, but the sickness was particularly widespread during the late 1860s and 1870s. The disease was little understood at the time, and many residents simply packed up and left rather than face the mysterious and deadly peril.

In 1869, residents voted to abolish the City of Tampa government. The population of "Tampa Town" was below 800 in the official 1870 census count and had fallen further by 1880 (see demographics, below).

Fort Brooke, the seed from which Tampa had germinated, had served its purpose and was decommissioned in 1883. Except for two cannons displayed on the nearby University of Tampamarker campus, all traces of the fort are gone. A large downtown parking garage near the old fort site is called the Fort Brooke Parking Garage.

Phosphate, Railroads, and Cigars: Tampa Finally Prospers

Tampa's fortunes took several sudden turns for the better. First, phosphate was discovered in the Bone Valley region southeast of Tampa in 1883. The mineral, vital for the production of fertilizers and other products, was soon being shipped out from the Port of Tampa in great volume. Tampa is still a major phosphate exporter.

Henry B. Plant's railroad line reached Tampa and its port shortly thereafter, connecting the small town to the country's railroad system. Tampa finally had the overland transportation link that it needed. The railroad enabled phosphate and commercial fishing exports to go north, brought many new products into the Tampa market, as well as its first tourists.

The new railroad link enabled another important industry to come to Tampa. In 1885, the Tampa Board of Trade helped Vicente Martinez Ybor move his cigar manufacturing operations to Tampa from Key Westmarker. Nearness to Cuba made imports of tobacco easy by sea, and Plant's railroad made shipment of finished cigars to the rest of the US market easy by land.

Since Tampa was still a small town at the time (population less than 5000), Ybor built hundreds of small houses around his factory to accommodate the immediate influx of mainly Cuban and Spanish cigar workers. Other cigar factories soon moved in, and Ybor Citymarker (as the approximately settlement was dubbed) quickly made Tampa a major cigar production center. Many Italian and a few eastern European Jewish immigrants also arrived starting in the late 1880s, operating businesses and shops that catered to the cigar workers. The majority of Italian immigrants came from Alessandria Della Roccamarker and Santo Stefano Quisquinamarker, two small Sicilian towns with which Tampa still maintains strong ties.
In 1891, Henry B. Plant built a lavish 500+ room, quarter-mile (400 m) long, Moorish Revival style luxury resort hotel called the Tampa Bay Hotelmarker among of manicured gardens along the banks of the Hillsborough River. The eclectic structure cost US$2.5 million to build. Plant filled his expensive playground with exotic art collectibles from around the world and installed electric lights and the first elevator in town.

The resort did well for a few years, especially during the Spanish-American War (see below). With Plant's death in 1899, the hotel's fortunes began to fade. It closed in 1930. In 1933 the stately building reopened as the University of Tampamarker.

Mainly because of Henry Plant's connections in the War Department, Tampa was chosen as an embarkation center for American troops in the Spanish-American War. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were among the 30,000 troops who waited in Tampa for the order to ship out to Cuba during the summer of 1898, filling the town.

The founding of Ybor City, the building of Plant's railroad and hotels, and the discovery of phosphate - all within a dozen years in the late 1800s - were crucial to Tampa's development. The town expanded from a village to bustling town to small city.

The 20th century

Franklin Street, looking North, Tampa c.
During the first few decades of the 20th century, the cigar making industry was the backbone of Tampa's economy. The factories in Ybor Citymarker and West Tampa made an enormous number of cigars—in the peak year of 1929, over 500,000,000 cigars were hand rolled in the city.

In 1904, a local civic association of local businessmen dubbed themselves Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (named after local mythical pirate Jose Gaspar), and staged an "invasion" of the city followed by a parade. With a few exceptions, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival has been held every year since.

Bolita & the Mob

Beginning in the late 1800s, illegal bolita lotteries were very popular among the Tampa working classes, especially in Ybor City. In the early 1920s, this small-time operation was taken over by Charlie Wall, the rebellious son of a prominent Tampa family, and went big-time. Bolita was able to openly thrive only because of kick-backs and bribes to key local politicians and law enforcement officials, and many were on the take.

Profits from the bolita lotteries and Prohibition-era bootlegging led to the development of several organized crime factions in the city. Charlie Wall was the first major boss, but various power struggles culminated in consolidation of control by Sicilian mafioso Santo Trafficante, Sr. and his faction in the 1950s. After his death in 1954 from cancer, control passed to his son Santo Trafficante, Jr., who established alliances with families in New Yorkmarker and extended his power throughout Floridamarker and into Batista-era Cubamarker.

The era of rampant and open corruption ended in the 1950s, when the Senator Kefauver's traveling organized crime hearings came to town and were followed by the sensational misconduct trials of several local officials. Although many of the worst offenders in government and the mob were not charged, the trials helped to end the sense of lawlessness which had prevailed in Tampa for decades.
Panorama of Downtown Tampa taken in 1913.

Mid to Late 20th century

Tampa grew considerably as a result of World War II. Prior to the United States' involvement in the conflict, construction began on MacDill Fieldmarker, the predecessor of present day MacDill Air Force Basemarker. MacDill Field served as a main base for Army Air Corps-Army Air Force operations, with multiple auxiliary airfields around the Tampa Bay area and surrounding counties. At the end of the war, MacDill remained as an active military installation while the auxiliary fields reverted to civilian control. Two of these auxiliary fields would later become the present day Tampa International Airportmarker and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airportmarker.

Four attempts have been made to consolidate Tampa with Hillsborough County (1967, 1970, 1971, and 1972), all of which failed at the ballot box; the greatest loss was also the most recent attempt in 1972, with the final tally being 33,160 (31%) in favor and 73,568 (69%) against the proposed charter.

The biggest recent growth in the city was the development of New Tampamarker, which started in 1988 when the city annexed a mostly rural area of between I-275 and I-75.

East Tampa, historically a mostly black community, was the scene of several riots, mainly due to problems between residents and the Tampa police.

Geography and weather

Tampa is located on the West coast of Floridamarker at (27.970898, -82.464640).
Tampa Bay Landsat image.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 170.6 square miles (441.9 km²), of which 112.1 square miles (290.3 km²) is land and 58.5 square miles (151.6 km²) (34.31%) is water. The highest point in the city is only . Tampa is bordered by two bodies of water, Old Tampa Baymarker and Hillsborough Baymarker, both of which flow together to form Tampa Baymarker, which in turn flows into the Gulf of Mexicomarker. The Hillsborough River flows out into Hillsborough Bay, passing directly in front of Downtown Tampa and supplying Tampa with its main source of fresh water. Palm River is a smaller river flowing from just east of the city into McKay Bay, which is a smaller inlet, sited at the northeast end of Hillsborough Bay. Tampa's cartography is marked by the Interbay Peninsula which divides Hillsborough Bay (the eastern) from Old Tampa Bay (the western).


Tampa has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa), with hot summer days, frequent thunderstorms in the summer (rain is less frequent in the fall), and a threat of a light winter freeze from November 15 through March 5, and even then not every year. It is listed as USDAmarker zone 10, which is about the northern limit of where coconut palms and royal palms can be grown. Highs usually range between 65 and 95°F (18 and 35 °C) year round. Surprising to some, Tampa's official recorded high has never hit 100 °F (38 °C) - the all-time record high temperature is 99 °F (37 °C), recorded on June 5, 1985.

Temperatures are hot from around mid-May through early October, which coincides approximately with the rainy season. Summertime weather is very consistent, with highs in the low 90s °F (32-34 °C), lows in the mid-70s °F (21 - 23 °C), and high humidity. Afternoon thunderstorms, generated by the interaction of the Gulfmarker and Atlanticmarker sea breezes, are such a regular occurrence during the summer that the Tampa Bay area is recognized as the "Lightning Capital of North America". Every year, Florida averages 10 deaths and 30 injuries from lightning strikes, with several of these usually occurring in or around Tampa.

In the winter, the low in Tampa drops below freezing (32 °F , 0 °C) on average three times per year, though this does not occur every season. Since the Tampa area is home to a diverse range of freeze-sensitive agriculture and aquaculture, major freezes, although very infrequent, are a major concern. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Tampa was 18 °F (-7.8 °C) on December 13, 1962.
The rare 1977 snowfall
the Great Blizzard of 1899, Tampa experienced its one and only known blizzard, with "bay effect" snow coming off Tampa Bay. The last measurable snow in Tampa fell on January 19, 1977. The accumulation amounted to all of , but the city, unprepared for and unaccustomed to wintry weather, came to a virtual standstill for a day. Three major freezes occurred in the 1980s. The losses suffered by farmers forced many to sell off their citrus groves, which helped fuel a boom in subdivision development in the 1990s and 2000s.

Yearly precipitation trends

Because of the frequent summer thunderstorms, Tampa has a pronounced wet season, receiving an average of about 28 inches of rain from June to September but only about 18 inches during the remaining eight months of the year. The historical averages during the late summer, especially September, are augmented by passing tropical systems, which can easily dump many inches of rain in one day. Outside of the summer rainy season, most of the area's precipitation is delivered by the occasional passage of a weather front.

Average number of rainy days per month:

January - 7February - 7March - 7April - 5May - 6June - 12July - 16August - 17September - 13October - 7November - 5December - 6

Surrounding communities

Northwest: Oldsmarmarker, Palm Harbormarker, Tarpon Springsmarker, Westchasemarker, Town 'N' Countrymarker, New Port Richeymarker North: Lutzmarker, Land O' Lakesmarker, Egypt Lakemarker, Northdalemarker, Carrollwoodmarker Northeast: Temple Terracemarker, New Tampamarker, Thonotosassamarker, Wesley Chapelmarker, Mangomarker, Zephryhillsmarker, Dade Citymarker
West: Clearwatermarker, Largomarker, Clearwater Beachmarker Tampa East: Brandonmarker, Gibsontonmarker, Seffnermarker, Valricomarker, Plant Citymarker, Lakelandmarker, East Tampamarker, Winter Havenmarker
Southwest: St. Petersburgmarker, St. Pete Beachmarker, Indian Rocks Beachmarker, Pinellas Parkmarker South: Bradentonmarker, Apollo Beachmarker, Ruskinmarker, Sun City Centermarker Southeast: Riverview, Gibsontonmarker, Boyettemarker, Fish Hawkmarker, Wimaumamarker



Tampa displays a wide variety of architectural designs and styles. Most, if not all of Tampa's high rises demonstrate Post-modern architecture. The design for the renovated Tampa Museum of Artmarker, displays Post-modern architecture, while the city hall and the Tampa Theatremarker belong to Art Deco architecture.The Tampa mayor as of 2008, Pam Iorio, has made the redevelopment of Tampa's downtownmarker, especially bringing in residents to the decidedly non-residential area, a priority. Several residential and mixed-development high-rises are in various stages of planning or construction, and a few have already opened. Another of Mayor Iorio's initiatives is the Tampa Riverwalk, a plan which intends to make better use of the land along the Hillsborough River in downtown where Tampa began. Several museums are part of the plan, including new homes for the Tampa Bay History Center, the Tampa Children's Museum, and the Tampa Museum of Artmarker.

Tampa is the site of several skyscrapers. Overall, there are 18 completed buildings that rise over high. The city also has 69 high-rises, more than any other city in Florida after Miamimarker. The tallest building in the city is 100 North Tampamarker, formerly the AmSouth Building, which rises 42 floors and in Downtown Tampa. The structure was completed in 1992, and is the tallest building in Florida outside of Miami and Jacksonvillemarker.

Neighborhoods and Surrounding municipalities

Hyde Park Village in Tampa's Hyde Park neighborhood.
The city is divided into many neighborhoods, many of which were towns and unincorporated communities that were annexed by the growing city. Generally, the city is divided into the following areas: Downtown Tampamarker, New Tampamarker, West Tampamarker, East Tampamarker, North Tampamarker, and South Tampamarker.

Some well-known communities of Tampa include Ybor Citymarker, Forest Hillsmarker, Ballast Pointmarker, Sulphur Springsmarker, Seminole Heightsmarker, Tampa Heightsmarker, Palma Ceia, Hyde Parkmarker, Tampa Palmsmarker, College Hillmarker and non-residential areas of Garymarker and the Westshore Business Districtmarker


The Sulphur Springs Water Towermarker, a landmark in Sulphur Springsmarker section of the city, dates back to the late 1920s. This era also saw the construction of Bayshore Boulevard, which parallels Hillsborough Bay from downtown Tampamarker to areas in South Tampa. The road has a continuous sidewalk on the eastern end, the longest in theworld.

Ybor Citymarker is home to several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic District. Most notable among these structures are the social clubs built in the early 1900s.marker
Babe Zaharias Golf Course in the Forest Hillsmarker area of Tampa has been designated a Historical Landmark by the National Register of Historic Places. It was bought in 1949 by the famous 'Babe', who had a residence nearby, and closed upon her death. In 1974, the City of Tampa opened the golf course to the publicThe Story of Tampa, a public painting by Lynn Ash, is a 4' x 8' oil on masonite mural that weaves together many of the notable aspects of Tampa's unique character and identity. It was commissioned in 2003 by the city's Public Art Program and can be found in the lobby of the Tampa Municipal Office Building.Park Tower (originally the First Financial Bank of Florida) is the first substantial skyscraper in downtown Tampa. Completed in 1973, it was the tallest skyscraper in Tampa until the completion of One Tampa City Center in 1981. The Rivergate building, a cylindrical building known as the "Beer Can building", was featured in the movie "The Punisher".

Spanning the southern part of Tampa Bay, is the massive steel-span Sunshine Skyway Bridge.


Tampa's city hall.
Tampa is governed under the strong mayor form of government. The Mayor of Tampa is the chief executive officer of city government and is elected in four year terms, with the maximum of two terms. The City Council is a legislative body served by seven members, in which four are elected from specific areas of town and the other three are At-Large (serving citywide). Pam Iorio is the current mayor, serving as Tampa's 57th mayor. She is also Tampa's second female mayor. She is finishing her second and last term of mayor, primarily focusing on light rail mass transit service for Tampa, and ultimately, reaching the entire Tampa Bay area. In her first term of mayor, she primarily focused on the renovation of the downtown area.


Higher education

University of Tampa's Plant Hall
University of South Floridamarker is currently ninth in the nation in terms of enrolled students, with a total of 44,891 students for the 2007 academic year. Its mascot is the Brahman Bull, with green and gold as its colors.

University of Tampamarker, located across the Hillsborough River from downtown Tampa, is a private university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. UT has over 5,500 students attending. Its mascot is the Spartanmarker, with scarlet, black, and gold as its school colors.

Other colleges and universities include:

Primary and secondary schools

Public primary and secondary education is operated by Hillsborough County Public Schools, officially known as the School District of Hillsborough County (SDHC). It is ranked the eighth largest school district in the United Statesmarker, with around 189,469 enrolled students. SDHC runs 206 schools, 133 being elementary, 42 middle, 25 High Schools, 2 K-8's, and 4 Career centers. There are 73 additional schools in the district that are charter, ESE, alternative, etc. 12 out of 25 High schools in the SDHC are included in Newsweek's list of America's Best High Schools.

Public libraries

Tampa's library system is operated by the Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System. THPLS operates 28 libraries throughout Tampa and Hillsborough County, including the John F. Germany Main Library in Downtown Tampa. The Tampa library system first started in the early 1900s, with the West Tampa Library, which was made possible with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie.

Healthcare and utilities

Tampa and its surrounding suburbs are host to over 20 hospitals and four trauma centers. Three of the area's hospitals were ranked under "America's best hospitals" by US News and World Report. It is also home to many health research institutions.

Water in the area is managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The water is mainly supplied by the Hillsborough River, which in turn arises from the Green Swamp, but several other rivers and desalination plants in the area contribute to the supply. Power is mainly generated by TECO Energy.

Phone service is provided by Verizon and Bright House Networks. Cable TV and internet are also provided by these companies.


Arts and Entertainment

It is home to a variety of performance halls and theaters, including the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Centermarker, the Jobsite Theater, the Tampa Theatremarker, the Tampa Museum of Artmarker, the Stageworks Theater Company, the Gorilla Theatre, and the USF Contemporary Art Museum. The Florida Orchestra also is based in the Tampa Bay area. The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Centermarker is the largest performing art center south of the Kennedy Center.

In addition, since the mid 1980's, Tampa has been known worldwide as the cradle of Death metal, an extreme form of Heavy metal that evolved from the Thrash Metal sound that was common at the time. Many of the genre's pioneers and foremost figures are based in and around the city. Chief among these are Death, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Obituary, Morbid Angel. The Tampa scene grew quickly with the birth of Morrisound Studios, which quickly established itself as an international recording destination for metal bands.

Tampa is home to nightlife throughout the city limits and beyond. Current popular nightlife districts include Channelsidemarker, Ybor Citymarker, SoHomarker, International Plaza and Bay Streetmarker, and Seminole Hard Rock. Downtown Tampamarker also contains some nightlife, and there are more clubs/bars to be found in other areas of the city. According to Maxim, Tampa is ranked 6th in the entire nation for its party scene.

The underground rock band, the Baskervils, got their start in Tampa. They played the Tampa Bay area between 1994-1997 and then moved to New York Citymarker.


The Tampa area is home to a number of museums that cover a wide array of subjects and studies. Perhaps the most well known of these is the Museum of Science & Industrymarker. It is home to one of the 250 IMAX dome theaters in the world, the only one in Florida. It also houses Tampa's planetarium. Tampa is also home to the SS American Victorymarker, a former World War II Victory Ship which has now been preserved as a museum ship. Other museums in the area include the Tampa Museum of Artmarker and the Tampa Bay History Center, a complex in Tampa's Channel Districtmarker displaying the area's unique history and culture. The Salvador Dali Museummarker is located to the southwest of the city, in St. Petersburg, Floridamarker.

Tourism and Recreation

The Channelside Entertainment Complex in Tampa's Chanel District.
The city of Tampa operates over 165 parks and beaches covering within city limits; 42 more in surrounding suburbs covering , are maintained by Hillsborough County. These areas include the Hillsborough River State Parkmarker, just northeast of the city. Tampa is also home to a number of attractions and theme parks, including Busch Gardens Tampa Baymarker, Adventure Islandmarker, Lowry Park Zoomarker, and Florida Aquariummarker

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoomarker features over 2,000 animals, interactive exhibits, rides, educational shows and more. The Zoo serves as an economic, cultural, environmental and educational anchor in the City of Tampa.

Busch Gardens Tampa Baymarker is a African-themed park located near the University of South Floridamarker. It features many thrilling roller coasters, for which it is known for, and hosts a number of African wildlife, which one could tour and interact.

Adventure Islandmarker is a water park just adjacent to Busch Gardens. It features many water rides, dining, and other attractions typical to a water park.

The Florida Aquariummarker is a aquarium located in the Channel Districtmarker of Tampa. It hosts over 20,000 species of aquatic plants and animals. It is known for its unique glass architecture. Just adjacent to the Aquarium is the SS American Victory, a World War II Victory ship preserved as a museum ship.Several large scale malls call Tampa and its surrounding areas home. Well-known shopping areas include International Plaza and Bay Streetmarker, WestShore Plazamarker, SoHo districtmarker, and Hyde Park Villagemarker. Palma Ceia is also home to a shopping district, called Palma Ceia Design District. [13921] Previously, Tampa had also been home to the Floriland Mall (now an office park), Tampa Bay Center (demolished and replaced with the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers training facility, known as "One Buc Place"), and East Lake Square Mall (now an office park)

Tampa is also home to the Tampa Convention Centermarker.


Downtown during Gasparilla
Perhaps the most well known and celebrated event is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, usually referred to simply as Gasparilla. It has been held yearly since 1904. Gasparilla, often referred to as the Mardi Gras of Tampa, is usually held on the last Saturday of January. The invasion-themed event has an attendance of over 400,000 people and impacts over 23 million dollars to the city of Tampa. The Sant'Yago Knight Parade, or Gasparilla Night Parade is usually held one week to a few weeks after. It is considered more adult-oriented.

Other notable events include the Outback Bowl, which is held New Year's Day at Raymond James Stadiummarker. The Florida State Fairmarker in mid-February, also brings in an attendance of around 400,000, and Guavaween, an open street Halloween celebration with Latin flavor taking place in Ybor Citymarker. Also in Ybor is "GaYbor Days", an annual four-day street party in the GLBT-friendly GaYbor district. [13922]


Major daily newspapers serving the city are The Tampa Tribune and The St. Petersburg Times. La Gaceta is the nation's only trilingual newspaper, written in English, Spanish and Italian. There is also a wide variety of smaller regional newspapers, alternative weeklies and magazines, including the Florida Sentinel Bulletin (which focuses coverage on the African American community in Tampa), Creative Loafing, Reax Music Magazine, Tampa Bay Times, The Oracle, Tampa Bay Business Journal, and MacDill Thunderbolt. Centro Mi Diario is a free Spanish-language newspaper published by The Tampa Tribune. Airlock Alpha is based in Tampa, as is its owner, Quantum Global Media. Major television affiliates include WFTSmarker 28 (ABC), WTSPmarker 10 (CBS), WFLAmarker 8 (NBC), WTVTmarker 13 (Fox), WTOGmarker 44 (The CW), WTTAmarker 38 (MyNetworkTV) and WVEAmarker 62 (Univision).


Tampa's first church was the First Methodist Church, founded in a cabin by circuit rider J.C. Lay in 1846. The most famous church, however, is the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which officially opened in 1905. The city also contains the St. Paul A.M.E. Church which was founded by Reverend Thomas W. Long in 1870 and is Tampa's oldest African-American congregation, and First Presbyterian Church which is housed in a Spanish mission style building from 1930. There are also many other churches such as St. Patrick Catholic Church and Christ the King Catholic Church.


Tampa is represented by teams in three major professional sports leagues: the NFL, the NHL, and Major League Baseball. Tampa was also represented in the Arena Football League before the league ceased operations. Two of the teams play in Tampa proper, while the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball play across the bay in St. Petersburgmarker. All of the teams are considered to represent the entire Tampa Bay metropolitan areamarker.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League (NASL) were the area's first major sports franchise, beginning play in Tampa Stadiummarker in 1975. The Rowdies were an immediate success, drawing good crowds and winning the inaugural Soccer Bowl in their first season to bring Tampa its first professional sports championship. Though the NASL ceased operations in 1984, the Rowdies continued play in various indoor and outdoor soccer leagues until finally folding in 1993.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began in 1976 as an expansion team of the NFL. They struggled mightily at first, losing their first 26 games in a row to set a league record for futility. After a brief taste of success in the late 70s, the Bucs again returned to their losing ways, and at one point lost 10+ games for 12 seasons in a row. The hiring of Tony Dungy in 1996 started an improving trend that eventually led to the team's first Super Bowl title in 2003 under coach Jon Gruden.

The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning was established in 1992, and currently play their home games in the St. Pete Times Forummarker, located in the Channelside district of downtown Tampa. The team won their first Stanley Cup championship in Tampa against the Calgary Flames in game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals.

There was some cross-bay competition for a Major League Baseball franchise throughout the 1980s and '90s until the Tampa Bay Rays (originally "Devil Rays") began play in nearby St. Petersburgmarker in 1998. The Rays struggled through their first decade of existence, finishing last in the American League's East Division in nine of those ten seasons. However, the Rays finally tasted success in 2008, winning their first division title and the AL pennant to earn a spot in the World Series. According to the Tampa Tribune, there is currently a movement underway to develop a new Rays stadium in downtown Tampa. This effort is being led by the community based group
The St. Pete Times Forum
The Tampa Bay Storm played in the Arena Football League before it suspended operations. Originally playing in Pittsburghmarker, the team moved to Tampa in 1991. The Storm won their first Arena Bowl championship in 1991, and have won four subsequent championships in 1993, 1995, 1996, and 2003, more than any other AFL team. Since 1997, the team has played its home games in the St. Pete Times Forummarker.

The United Soccer Leagues First Division formally announced that Tampa would receive an expansion franchise to be named the Tampa Bay Rowdies after the area's old NASL team. These new Rowdies are scheduled to play at a new soccer-specific stadium beginning in 2009.

Tampa also has a Roller Derby team called the Tampa Bay Derby Darlins. The home games are played at USA Skateplex in Temple Terracemarker. [13923] [13924]

College sports

The USF Sundome
football program at the University of South Floridamarker played its first season in 1997. After competing their first four years as a Division I-AA (now Division I FCS) independent, the Bulls moved to Division I-A, now Division I FBS, in 2001 but remained independent. They joined Conference USA in 2003 until becoming a member of the Big East in 2005. Under Jim Leavitt, the only head coach in the program's history, the Bulls have become a major college program. The 2007 season was the most successful so far, as the team reached as high as 2nd in the BCS rankings and received much community support.

The University of Tampamarker Spartans, located in downtown Tampa, are the oldest active sports organization in the city, having begun play in 1933. UT competes at the NCAA Division II level in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC). UT is among the top schools in the SSC in both championships and student-athletes named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll.

Spartan teams have won NCAA-II titles in men's soccer (1981, 1994 and 2001), women's soccer (2007), baseball (1992, 1993, 1998,2006 and 2007), golf (1987 and 1988), and volleyball (2006). With their win in 2007 the UT baseball team became the first team in Div. II baseball to win consecutive titles since UT won in 1992 and 1993.[1] The University of Tampa fielded a highly successful men's football team from 1933 to 1974 winning against then rivals University of Floridamarker and other major college teams, and was the first sports team to call Tampa Stadiummarker home.

Other sports & events

The Tampa Bay Bandits of the defunct United States Football League (USFL) began play in 1985, and played three seasons in Tampa Stadium before the league and the team folded. Coached by Steve Spurrier, their crowd-pleasing style of play was known as "Banditball". The Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer began play at Tampa Stadium in 1996, and continued through 2001 before folding.

Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls: Super Bowl XVIII (1984), Super Bowl XXV (1991), and Super Bowl XXXV, which was played in the newly built Raymond James Stadium in 2001, and Super Bowl XLIII in February 2009.

The Tampa Bay Area also hosts a number of Major League Baseball teams for spring training, as well as several minor league baseball teams. The New York Yankees of Major League Baseball play spring training games at George M.marker Steinbrenner Fieldmarker in Tampa.

The NCAA football Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadiummarker is held in Tampa each January. The USHRA holds an event every January at Raymond James Stadiummarker.


Service, retail, finance, insurance, and real estate play a vital role in the area's economy. Hillsborough County alone has an estimated 740,000 employees, a figure which is projected to increase to 922,000 by 2015. Many corporations, such as large banks and telecommunications companies, maintain regional offices in Tampa. Several Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in the metropolitan area, based on 2007 rankings: Downtown Tampa is undergoing significant development and redevelopment in line with a general national trend toward urban residential development. The Tampa Downtown Partnership notes development proceeding on 20 residential, hotel, and mixed-use projects as of April 2007. Many of the new downtown developments are nearing completion in the midst of a housing market slump, which has caused numerous projects to be delayed or revamped, and some of the 20 projects TDP lists have not broken ground and are being refinanced. Nonetheless several developments are nearing completion, which city leaders hope will make downtown into a 24-hour neighborhood instead of 9 to 5 business district.Tampa's port is now the seventh largest in the nation and Florida’s largest tonnage port, handling nearly half of all seaborne commerce that passes through the state. Tampa currently ranks second in the state behind Miami in terms of cruise ship travel. Besides smaller regional cruise ships such as Yacht Starship and SunCruz Casino, Tampa also serves as a port of call for three cruise lines: Holland America's MS Veendam, Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, and Carnival's Legend and Inspiration.

The main server farm for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundationmarker projects is located in Tampa, with additional servers in Amsterdammarker and Seoulmarker.


At the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 67.2% White (47.8% non-Hispanic White alone), 26.3% Black or African American, 0.6% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.6% Asian, 0.3% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 3.8% from some other race and 1.7% from two or more races. 22.1% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. [13925]

As of the census of 2000, there were 303,447 people, 124,758 households, and 71,236 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,707.8 people per square mile (1,045.4/km²). There were 135,776 housing units at an average density of 1,211.6/sq mi (467.8/km²).

The racial makeup of the city was 64.2% White (51.0% White Non-Hispanic), 26.1% Black or African American, 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.2% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 4.17% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.3% of the population. The largest ancestries are German (9.2%), Irish (8.4%), English (7.7%), Italian (5.6%), and French (2.4%).

There were 124,758 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.9% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.7 years old. For every 100 females there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.

In 2006, the median income for a household in the city was $39,602, and the median income for a family was $45,823. Males had a median income of $40,461 versus $29,868 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,522. 20.1% of the population and 16.4% of families were below the poverty line. 31% of those under the age of 18 and 13.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty level.

As of 2000, English spoken as a first language accounted for 77.43% of all residents, while 22.56% spoke other languages as their mother tongue. The most significant was Spanish speakers who made up 17.76% of the population, while French came up as the third most spoken language, which made up 0.63%, and Italian was at fourth, with 0.56% of the population.

A 2006 study by UCLAmarker suggests that Tampa has one of the highest GLBT populations per capita with 6.1% of citizens polled identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The Tampa Bay metropolitan area also ranks 5th of all major metropolitan areas with 5.9% being GLBT.



Three motor vehicle bridges cross Tampa Baymarker to Pinellas Countymarker: the Howard Frankland Bridge (I-275), the Courtney Campbell Causeway (SR-60) and the Gandy Bridge (US 92). The old Gandy Bridge was completely replaced by new spans during the 1990s, but a span of the old bridge was saved and converted into a pedestrian and biking bridge renamed The Friendship Trail. It is the longest overwater recreation trail in the world. However, the bridge was closed in 2008 due to structural problems.

There are two major expressways (toll) bringing traffic in and out of Tampa. The Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway (SR-618) (also known as the Crosstown Expressway), runs from suburban Brandonmarker at its eastern terminus, through Downtown Tampa, to the neighborhoods in South Tampa (near MacDill Air Force Basemarker) at its western terminus. The Veterans Expressway (SR-589), meanwhile connects Tampa International Airportmarker and the bay bridges to the northwestern suburbs as Carrollwoodmarker, Northdalemarker, New Port Richeymarker, and Brooksvillemarker.

Three interstate highways run through the city. Interstate 4 and Interstate 275 cut across the city and intersect near downtown. Interstate 75 runs along the east side of town for much of its route through Hillsborough Countymarker until veering to the west to bisect New Tampa.

Along with highways, major surface roads serves as main arteries of the city. These roads are Hillsborough Avenue, Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, Florida Avenue, Fowler Avenue, Dale Mabry Highway, Busch Boulevard, Nebraska Avenue, Kennedy Boulevard, Adamo Drive, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.


Tampa has a long history of air travel. Just ten years after the historic first flight by the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the St. Petersburg Tampa Bay Airboat Line of Tony Jannus became the first passenger airline in the world. The first flight was on January 1, 1914. The airline flew from roughly what is now St. Petersburg Clearwater International Airport in St. Petersburg, Florida, across the bay to just south of where Tampa International Airport sits today. There is a memorial in Tampa International Airportmarker commemorating this event. Also for this reason, nearby St. Petersburg has earned the distinction as the "Birthplace of Scheduled Air Transportation".

Train stations

Amtrak services Tampa via the Tampa Union Train Stationmarker, located in a historic building near the port between downtown and Ybor City. The Silver Star reverses its direction at Tampa Union Station on its way between Miami and New York.


Port of Tampa
Since Tampa Bay was first spotted by Spanish explorers in the 1500s, sailors have admired its wide, sheltered beauty. However, its shallow nature has always presented a navigability problem; the bay is less than deep almost everywhere and considerably less than that in many places near the coast, including the approach to the city of Tampa.. By the late 1800s, typical cargo ships had grown large enough that they were not able to navigate upper Tampa Bay and reach the ports of Tampa at all.

In 1899, however, the US Congress authorized the dredging of a 27' deep channel to Port Tampa, Henry Plant's rail-to-ship facility just west of Tampa. In 1917, another channel was dredged out to the Port of Tampa proper, instantly making Tampa an important shipping location.

The bay bottom is very sandy, and the ship channels need constant dredging to keep them navigable to the largest modern cargo ships. Every year, the US Army Corps of Engineers dredge up enough sediment from the bay to fill Raymond James Stadiummarker 10 times.

Today, the Port of Tampa is the largest port in Florida in throughput tonnage, making it one of the busiest commercial ports in North America. Traditionally, the largest bulk of shipments passing through the port have been phosphate and related materials, but petroleum products recently took over the mantle with an annual tonnage of over 19 million tons.

Several cruise ships also make use of the Port of Tampa. Tampa's cruise ship terminals, located in the Channel Districtmarker, are home to several Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America ships which regularly depart on Mexican and Caribbean sailings.

Mass transit

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) operates streetcars as well as the bus system. HART has a signed transit deal with the University of South Floridamarker, allowing students to ride for free on most bus routes. In addition, students from several other colleges and universities can purchases passes at 25% discount from their school.

The TECO Line Streetcar System, which links Ybor Citymarker, the Channel Districtmarker and Downtown Tampamarker, began operating on Saturday, October 19, 2002. Despite the system's limited reach and comparatively slow speed (about 10-15 mph), the air-conditioned cars do offer a nostalgic method of getting around in far greater comfort than was possible a century ago. The line is intentionally reminiscent of Tampa's extensive early twentieth-century streetcar network, albeit much smaller in scope at present (2007). Currently, the line has 10 stops along its 2.4 mile (3.9 km) route. There is also an "In-Town" trolley that takes passengers between Downtownmarker, Channelsidemarker, and Harbour Islandmarker. [13926] In addition, NEVs that are operated by local upstarts shuttle passengers between these areas as well as Hyde Parkmarker and SoHomarker. [13927] Water taxis have also been used for tours and transport downtown.[13928][13929]

On July 1, 2007, an intermodal transportation authority was created to serve the seven county Tampa Bay areamarker. The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) was formed to develop bus, rapid transit, and other transportation options for the region.

MacDill Air Force Base

MacDill Air Force Base, located in south Tampa, was constructed as MacDill Field just prior to World War II. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was a Strategic Air Command base for B-47 and B-52 bombers. In the 1960s, it transitioned to a Tactical Air Command installation for F-4 Phantom II fighters, followed by F-16s in the 1980s. It is currently an Air Mobility Command installation, home to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, and includes both the 310th Airlift Squadron, flying the C-37, and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, flying the KC-135. MacDill AFB is also home to the headquarters for two of the U.S. military's joint warfighting commands: Headquarters, United States Central Command (CENTCOM), and Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Both commands are independent from one another and each is commanded by a respective 4-star general or admiral. Like Tampa's seaport, MacDill AFB could also potentially be a target for terrorism.

The MacDill AFB flight line was temporarily closed and the 56th Fighter Wing transferred to Luke AFB, Arizonamarker following the 1991 round of base closings under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) discussions; at the time, the base was used for F-16 fighter training and operations and increasing level of civilian air traffic in the Tampa Bay area was considered detrimental to training. The noise produced by the fighter aircraft was also considered inappropriate in a densely populated area. However, despite committee recommendations, the base remained open to house and support CENTCOM and SOCOM under the cognizance of the newly-activated 6th Air Base Wing. With the disestablishment of Tactical Air Command a few months later, claimancy for MacDill passed to the newly-created Air Combat Command.

The MacDill flight line was initially reopened in 1992 to temporarily support F-16 aircraft from the 31st Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve's 482d Fighter Wing, following the destruction of their home station, Homestead AFBmarker, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. In 1993, the MacDill flightline was permanently reopened for NOAA WP-3D "hurricane hunter" operations, which had relocated from Miami International Airportmarker.

In 1996, the 91st Air Refueling Squadron moved to MacDill from Malmstrom Air Force Basemarker, Montanamarker, the 6th Air Base Wing was renamed the 6th Air Refueling Wing (later 6th Air Mobility Wing) and the installation officially came under the Air Mobility Command.

Approximately 14,000 people work at MacDill Air Force Base, with a significant number of military personnel and their families living on base in military housing, while remaining servicemembers and military families live off base in the Tampa Bay area. MacDill AFB is a significant contributor to Tampa's economy and the city is very supportive of the military community. In 2001 and 2003, the Tampa Bay area was awarded the Abilene Trophy, which annually honors the most supportive Air Force city in Air Mobility Command.

MacDill also hosts an annual air show that is enjoyed by thousands of spectators each year. However, there were no shows in 2002 and 2003 due to 9/11. The 2006 show was also canceled due to security concerns on base, but was reinstated in 2008. In 2008, pursuant to BRAC 2005, the Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) relocated without aircraft or equipment from Selfridge Air National Guard Basemarker, Michigan to MacDill AFB, where it became an "Associate" wing to the 6th Air Mobility Wing sharing the same KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft.

Sister cities

Tampa has formalized sister city agreements with the following cities:

See also



  • Brown, Cantor. Tampa Before the Civil War. University Press of Florida.
  • Deitche, Scott M. Cigar City Mafia : A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld (2004), Barricade Books ISBN 1-56980-266-1.
  • Lastra, Frank. Ybor City: The Making of a Landmark Town. 2006. University of Tampa Press.
  • Stewart, George R. Names on the Land, Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston (1967).

External links

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