Long before Mayor Dick Greco was attempting to become the oldest Mayor in the history of Tampa, he was the youngest. Before he boasted of the experience he would bring to the mayoral position, he was the mayor with little experience. Before he was a political legend with his own statue, he had to defeat a political legend that was posthumously honored with a statue. Before he became Mayor Dick Greco, he had to defeat Mayor Nick Nuccio in the 1967 mayoral election, one of the hottest elections the city of Tampa has ever seen, an election that billed the young, handsome upstart against the old political legend. It was a heavyweight battle that changed the history of the city of Tampa forever. And it was a battle that started in 1963 when Mayor Dick Greco was known as City Councilman Dick Greco.
The red neon "Open" sign in the Franklin Street News Stand window would flicker on at 7 A.M., followed by the neon signs for the news stand's neighbors–the Shoe Hospital and Carmen's Sandwich Shop–shortly after that. A block away, the homeless people sleeping in front of Sacred Heart Church would wake up, roll up their blankets and seek shade from the hot sun.
Downtown Tampa was a shining model of the American landscape in the 1950s. On every street corner, you could find the best jewelry stores, hat shops, and restaurants Tampa had to offer.
In 1897, writer, social commentator, and beisbolero (baseball player) Wenceslao Gálvez y del Monte ("Wen Gálvez") published a small, first-person narrative entitled Tampa: Impresiones de Emigrado. The work critically observes Tampa and its residents. It is one of several turn-of-the-century, Spanish-language publications giving an account of Old Tampa–from its dusty roads to its marble facades.
By 1939, Tampa’s cigar industry was clearly in trouble. Between 1929 and 1939, 17 factories closed, and Tampa’s cigar manufacturers employed about 5,000 fewer people than they did ten years earlier. A 1939 Tampa Times article cited “less than 20 plants which could be called ‘major.’” But in 1935, none of that mattered. In 1935, what mattered was the Cigar Industry Golden Jubilee. Over four days, the citizens of Tampa were invited to revere the industry that made the town famous.
An African American slave, a Scottish businessman, and a Cuban factory worker: An unlikely trio with an even more unlikely memoria–the Fortune Street Bridge.
Eighty years ago, Victor Licata opened the Seabreeze Restaurant on the site, blending his beloved Italian cooking with Cuban and Cracker influences. The Seabreeze culled a blue-collar clientele from the workers of nearby industrial facilities. The Licata family arguably invented the deviled crab, a croquette spiked with spicy tomato sauce. Beginning in the 1960s, Robert and Helen Richards supplied the Seabreeze with seafood and later took over the business. Today, the restaurant is defunct, and a fishing family lost its livelihood. The price of doing business in Florida has climbed too high for most fishermen.
Imagine visiting the neighborhood you grew up in, and it's not there! Not one single house, grocery store, bakery, or church–everything gone! In a panic, you rush to your home, and then your grandparents' house and all you find are empty lots full of sand and rocks. Your mind races back to a time of big family dinners, especially around the holidays. You think of the playground where you and your friends played stickball and Bernardo's Grocery Store and Garage, where you would hang out, drink Coke, and chew on penny bubble gum. The city you remember no longer exists. If you grew up in Roberts City, then this is your story.
Sometimes, just sometimes, one encounters a fascinating account of a forgotten piece of time. While exploring the St. Petersburg Museum of History’s archives, the prolific writings of Major E.A Hitchcock, a little-known but distinguished soldier, were brought to life.
Who was Gasparilla? The answer to that depends on who you ask. It is one of the first things people want to know when they come to our town for the annual Gasparilla Invasion and Festival. There have been many theories over the years, and someone back in time penned the following poetic explanation.