Cuban cigarettes with location: Ybor City Historical District in Tampa, Florida
Expert: Chris J. Castaneda, a professor of history at the State University of California
Why worth a visit :
The historical Ybor City has a past defined by entrepreneurship. Located in the northeast corner of Tampa, Florida. This 19th-century settlement with brick slabs under the influence of Spain became known for the production of hand-rolled cigars that were once considered the best quality cigars in the world.
Founded in the 1880s, Ybor City was home to thousands of Spanish, Cuban and Italian immigrants who led the city and its flourishing businesses. “It was basically a city of an immigrant company,” says Chris J. Castaneda, a professor of history at the California State University in Sacramento. Every year there were hundreds of millions of cigars.
Nine of the cigarette factories in the neighborhood survive today, along with houses with iron balconies. “A lot of Cuban cigars have been made here,” says Castaneda. While tobacco was often grown in Cuba, many of the cigarettes were actually rolled into Ybor City. Thousands of workers on the line were slowed down by factory proofreaders who read the news, political treatises and more, as they turned their product.
The area was so famous as the Cuban enclave in the United States. A poet and Cuban political activist Jose Marti visited the area to receive financial and popular support for the independence war of Cuba from Spain in the late 1800s. This area has also grown into a network of Spanish-speaking communities in other locations in the United States, such as New York. The area declined during the 1950s, when the cigar trade left the area, but efforts to protect history in the 1980s renewed and preserved the neighborhood. Today, pedestrian trips are available in the city. Such as a museum dedicated to the Ybor City cigarette industry, located in the former cultural club of the neighborhood, El Centro Español.
“Immigrant communities like Ybor City provide excellent examples of immigrants’ influence on the development of the US economy and society,” Castaneda notes.
How to get to Ybor City:
Ybor City is located in Tampa, Florida, northeast of the central area of Tampa.
This story is the fourth in a series of incredible historical travel destinations in America.