“Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
Tom Hanks, Cast Away (2000)
“The only way to know, really know, a city is through solitary explorations. Nothing else will suffice.” -from Man Seeks God, by Eric Weiner
After more than 2 years exploring the city of Tampa, I’m no expert but have come to feel a connection to the city. I’m no longer living in Tampa, so I have not been able to keep up with current events in recent weeks, but hopefully some of the subjects I’ve photographed will remain timeless in the city. I plan to keep this blog archived here as long as WordPress will let me, so if you ever want a Tampa fix, drop by and browse through the category cloud at the bottom of the page. Better yet, park the car and take a walking tour of downtown, Ybor City, Seminole Heights, Westshore, or any other Tampa neighborhood. Because urban exploration – solitary or otherwise – is best done on foot. And as Finding Tampa rides off into the sunset, sunrise seemed to be a fitting subject for this final post. Is there any more optimistic time than sunrise?
Several local bloggers have influenced me and probably did not realize it. I began reading most of their blogs before I started Finding Tampa, and their efforts encouraged me to take this project seriously and to try to keep a positive tone. Some of them are, in no particular order: Tampa Do-Gooder, Tampania, Smiles Go With Everything, The SOG City Oracle, The Ybor City Stogie (Stogie, where are you?), Recreating Tampa, and Tampa Bay Breakfasts. Some of these folks are not posting as frequently as they used to, but if you are not following their work you should be.
It seems odd to say farewell to so many people who, for the most part, I’ve never even met. But it has been reassuring to me to share these photos over the past 2+ years. A therapeutic benefit I hadn’t anticipated when I started. So I’ll just leave with the classic farewell from The Truman Show:
In case I don’t see you – Good afternoon, good evening, and good night!
As I’ve written previously, I moved out of Tampa some weeks ago. I haven’t been able to revisit a few sites I would like to photograph again. And I wasn’t in town when my favorite Tampa building, the Floridan Palace Hotel – formerly known as the Floridan Hotel – newly restored, opened to the public at the end of July. But for Finding Tampa’s next to last post, I thought a few last photos of this lovely old building, and that spectacular sign, would be appropriate.
Tomorrow is closing time.
This is Wat Mongkolratanaram Temple, a Buddhist temple in eastern Tampa along the Palm River. They conduct regular Buddhist services as well as special events. The temple is lovely by itself and the location along the river adds to its charm. The web site includes information on visiting the temple, Buddhist philosophy, and a brief history of Thailand.
The general public knows this temple best for its Sunday Market, a weekly event started in 1993 that features a delicious variety of food at low prices.
Sometimes the food tastes better than it looks.
The Sunday market takes place year-round and is highly recommended.
Folks generally either love or hate the inverted pyramid pier on the Tampa Bay side of St. Petersburg. I’ve loved its 1970s design (opened in 1973) from the time I first moved to the area. Sadly, all good things must end, and, quoting from the Pier web site, “In 2004, the City’s Engineering Department determined the pilings underneath The Pier…were in need of replacement by the year 2014, or so.” That timeframe sounds conveniently precise to me, but I’m not a civil engineer. Either way, the St. Pete Pier is scheduled for demolition in 2013.
These photos were taken at several different time periods. While I never frequented the businesses at the Peir (neither, apparently, did many other people), I always enjoyed the views and the downtown St. Petersburg location. And it made a lovely, unique background for people photography.
This will not be the first time a St. Petersburg Pier has been demolished. The Pier’s web site describes the current and previous incarnations of this landmark. I’m not a fan of the design for the new Pier, currently scheduled to open in 2015. Whatever is ultimately built at this site, and whenever it is built, I’m sure the views of the Pier, and from it, will never be the same.
Only 3 posts left!
Just because I’m no longer Finding Tampa doesn’t mean I don’t have photographs to share. If you are on Flickr (or even if you aren’t), I hope you will check my page there periodically or add me as a contact. The photo above is from a set I recently added to Flickr of various formal and informal portraits.
Below is a shot from a model shoot I did back in the spring outside a roller skating rink in north Tampa. The models were great sports and it was the most fun I’ve had with a formal model photo session. I’ll be posting photos from this shoot, and other photos, at Flickr in the weeks/months ahead.
This is the building at 401 E. Washington Street in downtown Tampa. Built in 1946 as a sales and service center by the Ferman Motor Car Company, I’m astonished that this building remains, vacant, in its downtown location. I would love to see it put to use, maybe the right person/organization will come along and do just that. Tampania wrote about the history of this unusual building last year.
This is the first of two Tampa cemeteries established for members of Centro Asturiano de Tampa, a social club for immigrants from Asturias, Spain, and their descendents. This particular cemetery was opened in 1904. This information comes from Wikipedia, which currently has the wrong location for this cemetery. It is connected to Woodlawn Cemetery, which I have photographed previously.
Volunteers place flowers on the grave sites of loved ones on a donation basis, according to Centro Asturiano de Tampa’s web site.
The Greater Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Tampa. Yet another of Tampa’s grand old churches, this one was founded in 1893.
The church’s web site has some background on the church itself and the social context in which it was founded. Unlike some of Tampa’s other churches that were built in a similar timeframe, this church is still active. Be sure to read the History Makers page on their web site.
I posted a night-time photo of the Suntrust Financial Centre in downtown Tampa back in October. Here is a chance to see what the entire building looks like.
The Suntrust building is currently the 4th tallest building in Tampa, 36 stories and 525 feet. Construction was completed in 1992 and it was built to withstand a 110 MPH wind (a category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of 96-110 MPH).
A view of the downtown Tampa skyline from a somewhat uncommon perspective. This was taken on the University of Tampa campus, near the Cass Street Bridge.
The title is not a reference to the pending GOP convention. And it’s hopefully not a reference to Tropical Storm Isaac. No, as I’ve said previously, this is almost the end of Finding Tampa. After today, I have 9 posts left. My final post is scheduled for September 5.
Central Avenue may no longer exist in downtown Tampa, but its history can still be told. An article at The Delta Blues web site describes some of this area’s background, and The Historical Marker Database provides information on Central Avenue and links to descriptions of historical markers throughout the world. This area for decades was the hub of business and social activity for many African American residents of Tampa, and has a rich history of music, food, and culture. Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., all passed through here over the years.
This mural was painted by Anthony Moore. It’s located on Jefferson Avenue and is part of the City of Tampa Public Art Program.
Try as I might, between the angle of the light and the marble’s coloration, I can’t get a really satisfactory exposure of this downtown Tampa site. But it’s worth knowing about – I had walked past it several times without noticing. This is what the marker says:
“Tampa’s First Paved Sidewalk
Archibald Ross, a native of Scotland, a member of the city council, Tampa’s popular baker and the poor man’s friend, paved the walk around this brick building on the southeast corner of Franklin and Lafayette Streets with Georgia marble.
The first genuine pavement put down in Tampa was 168 feet long and 8 feet wide.
These marble stones are the remnants of Archie Ross’ historic side walk.
Preserved by the City of Tampa with the cooperation of the Tampa Historical Society”
This is home to Design Interiors, founded in 1943 by Belarmino Cadrecha, a retired cigar factory worker who was born in Spain. The company’s web site has some interesting information about their history. The bottom sign seems to advertise G.F. Altman, selling wagons, buggies, and hardware – I haven’t been able to find any information about that business.
As I’ve written here before, I had no idea of Tampa’s rich history until I moved here and started Finding Tampa. The Henry B. Plant Museum, formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel and now part of the University of Tampa, is one of the city’s most notable landmarks.
The Tampa Bay Hotel was built in the late 1890s to attract wealthy tourists and to take advantage of the rail line that was also built by Mr. Plant. He spared no expense in the design and construction. A considerable amount has been written about the history of this remarkable building and I will not attempt to add to it. But the museum’s web site and Wikipedia are good starting points
I guess the view has changed a bit of the years, but the front porch still looks inviting:
This is the Tampa Firefighters Museum, located on Zack Street downtown. The vintage fire engines were displayed outside during a special event last year, I don’t think all of these are normally on exhibit at the museum. It’s a small but very interesting museum and the space is available to rent for private events.
Below is an old Gamewell fire alarm system for identifying the location of fires. We didn’t always have GPS and smartphones.
Imagine jumping into this “life saving machine” if your life depended on it:
Firefighters must be among the bravest people on the planet. Drop by the museum and thank them sometime.
“The Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago: In 1175 Pope Alexander III authorized “La Orden Real Sant’ Yago” to protect the Pilgrims’ Way to the shrine of Santiago (St. James), at Santiago de Compostela, Galacia, Spain. Among the Spanish conquerors of America, Ponce De Leon, Panfilo De Narvaez and Hernando De Soto were members.
“In 1972, Ybor City civic leaders, Dr. Henry Fernandez, Cesar Gonzmart, Joe Granda, Joe Lopez, and Daniel Martinez obtained the first charter of the Order in America. The Krewe is dedicated to the preservation of Latin traditions in Tampa. The Columbia Restaurant is Krewe headquarters. Many of its functions are held here.”
“The Rough Riders Rode By Here, 1898: The intersection of Seventh Avenue and Twenty-second Street was a sandy cross-road connecting three army encampments in the Ybor City area during the Spanish-American War.
“At this cross-road was located a water-trough where the Rough Riders watered their mounts.
“Col. “Teddy” Roosevelt frequently rode by here on his horse “Texas,” followed by his little dog, “Cuba.”
Another of the roosters that can occasionally be seen wandering around Ybor City. I’ve never actually noticed a hen there, but they must be around someplace. Otherwise, how would we keep getting new roosters?
Last week I criticized Tampa for having too many parking garages and not putting enough emphasis on education. So it’s only fair to mention that there are a few extraordinarily beautiful schools in the area. Hillsborough High School may have existed as early as 1880, but the current Gothic building in the Seminole Heights neighborhood was built in 1927. There is a lot of history in this school – it produced the first high school newspaper and the first high school yearbook in the state of Florida. President Clinton spoke there in 1996. And it was the first high school in the United States to establish an alumni association.
The football field is named after Marcelino “Chelo” Huerta, a Hillsborough High graduate, football player at the University of Florida, and head football coach at several colleges.
I will leave the details of the 1898 Spanish American War to history buffs, but the memorial on the University of Tampa campus is worth seeing either way. Fort Dade was constructed on Egmont Key, near the entrance to Tampa Bay, at the start of the war because of a fear that the Spanish Fleet was coming to get us. They did not.
A few more of Tampa’s decorated traffic signal junction boxes. The ones above and below are located downtown. I don’t recall the exact streets, but I believe these designs can be found in more than one location.
The box below is in the Westshore area, at the corner of Cypress Street and Lois Avenue.
The last two images were taken along Himes Avenue, the first at Columbus Drive and the second between Ohio Avenue and Dr. MLK Jr. Boulevard.
Seen along Bayshore Boulevard in South Tampa. Thankfully a kind soul crossed out the original message and showed some concern for our flippered friends.
This is One Police Center, the Tampa Police Department headquarters on Franklin Street downtown. I haven’t really found any history of the building, but the department has only occupied this site since 1997.
A sample of the parking garages found downtown. Our obsessive devotion to cars is one of my few real complaints about Tampa. I’ve seen schools in Florida that were little more than shacks on grassy lots. But we love our parking garages.
It’s easy to take the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge for granted; so many of us drive over it so often. But it’s hard to imagine life in Tampa without it. The current drawbridge was built in 1913 to replace a wooden bascule bridge that originally spanned this portion of the Hillsborough River into downtown Tampa.
This was originally known as Lafayette Street through downtown (and Grand Central Avenue west of downtown), after General Lafayette, the French general who supported the colonists during the American Revolution. President Kennedy visited Tampa on November 18, 1963, and his motorcade drove along this road. So it was renamed John F. Kennedy Boulevard in 1964.
I’ve written before about school graffiti displayed on the bridges and riverbanks in this area. As a Purdue University graduate, class of
1989 the Mesozoic Era, I’m happy about the photo below.
For contrarians, that other Indiana university has been represented on the bridge as well.