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.
Some of these places had been around long enough to see three generations of families shopping at their store. It was an exciting place, and everyone enjoyed their shopping visits downtown. Within these scenic images are great details to enjoy, so remember to look carefully at not only the designs of the neon signs; but also the scene around each business and street corner. Many hidden treasures can be found as you look into these amazing images, like the common attire of the day and those fabulous cars parked along the street.
These images of Tampa's bustling downtown will send you back to those wonderful days of shopping trips with friends, visiting favorite stores, and stopping in the luncheonette for a slice of apple pie before you head home. Maybe there was a new show playing at the theatre or a sale at Maas Brothers–it was all there for you in downtown Tampa and these scenes from the new book, Vintage Tampa Signs and Scenes, have captured that moment in time.
Burger Queen 1957
This neon sign was a real work of art for Burger Queen in 1957, located at the corner of North Florida and Osborne Avenues, in Seminole Heights. This drive-in was popular with high school kids from nearby Hillsborough High and was also a favorite stop on the way to the movies on Friday nights during the 1950s.
Mangel’s Department Store 1959
This spectacular photograph was taken during a busy Christmas shopping season in Downtown Tampa at the Mangel’s Department Store Building on the corner of Franklin and Twiggs Streets in 1959. Mangel's was an exclusive ladies department store.
Siamese Cat 1960
Here is Downtown Tampa's newest and finest cocktail lounge - The Siamese Cat Lounge in 1960. This bar was located at 1118 North Franklin Street and you can bet this club had no problems with mice with that giant neon cat over their entrance!
Kinney Shoes and Pollers Dress Shop 1949
This vintage 1949 photograph of Franklin Street is taken of three storefronts with signage designed by Cinchett Neon Signs: Pollers Dress Shop, Kinney Shoes and The Walk-Over Bootery. This photograph was taken from across the street, in front of the Kress Building between Polk and Cass Streets.
Ayres Diner 1964
Here is the Ayres Diner at 603 Lafayette Avenue (now Kennedy Boulevard) pictured in 1964. During the 1950s this was a popular dining spot and was one of several dining-car style diners around Tampa. Customers could stop in anytime to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a sandwich on their favorite stool at the counter.
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE- MARCH/APRIL 2009
Author John V. Cinchett is a third-generation Tampa native with a deep love and appreciation for Tampa history. He is a history writer for the city of Tampa. John is also a columnist for the Penny Saver News in Tampa, and a contributor/guest writer for La Gaceta News in Tampa. John has published three Tampa History Books: Vintage Tampa Signs and Scenes (2009); Vintage Tampa Storefronts and Scenes (2012) and Historic Tampa Churches (2018). His publisher is Arcadia Publishing of Charleston, SC. John is also a professional musician, composer and church organist serving at churches and schools in Tampa and St Petersburg since 1985. He is currently the Organist and Music Minister for the Veterans Memorial Chapel at the Bay Pines Veterans Hospital in St Petersburg.
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