During the 1940s, Tampa was embroiled in political corruption. Organized crime and political patronage were rampant. So, with the aid of a few close friends, Albert Knapp began publishing an underground newspaper. The mimeographed paper featured open letters mysteriously signed "Abispo Verdi" in a squiggly hand. Knapp certified each letter using a green stamp pad as "official" with the impression of an anopheles mosquito poised to strike. Albert selected the name Abispo Verdi to mimic the popular radio show, The Green Hornet. He wrote his manifestos in a broken English dialect using Spanish and Italian words that confused grammar and spelling. Each manifesto focused on a particular local scandal and illuminated dirty tricks and chicanery, often in verse and always in ingenuous and humorous terms, with names changed slightly: Raul became Baul (meaning footlocker); Spoto became Spots; Spicola became SpiCocaCola.
For many people, the history of Ybor City ends after the first few decades of the twentieth century, the cigar-making community's golden era. Following a series of devastating changes–the rise of mechanization and the decline of the hand-rolled cigar industry, World War II, government-driven urban renewal, and the separation of the district from downtown and south Tampa by an elevated highway and toll road–the once-vibrant community gradually emptied of residents and businesses. Stalwarts like the Columbia Restaurant continued, but Ybor grew to resemble a ghost town mostly until a new form of life filtered in.
Collectively, we're Latins. Ybor City Latins. West Tampa Latins. The Latin Community. We were here first. That's the deal. Newer immigrants–Dominicans, Mexicans, South and Central Americans–are arriving here daily, making Tampa one of the most diverse cities in the United States.
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.