A visually and cartographically explicit narrative blog about Tampa's built history and development.
(Above banner created from photo in the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Burying the Past Series - A creek, a river and a spring.

I will be starting a series of posts entitled "Burying the Past". This will be a brief look at some of the changes that development has brought to the local geography and some of the elements that have essentially been "Buried". Stay tuned!

The River:
The Creek:
The Spring:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gate to Tampania

Browsing through the digitized Burgert Bros. Collection a few years ago I stumbled upon this beauty (I admit it was the lit sign and font that did it). The inspiration for the name of this blog, the entrance gate to the Tampania subdivision. The gate spanned a narrow West Shore Boulevard at North B Street.

As the Florida real estate market boomed in the early 20s companies were scrambling to buy up the wilderness, subdivide it into nice little lots and sell the Florida dream to sunshine seeking Northerners. When companies bought up this land the first thing they would do was clear it and plop down an elaborate entrance and maybe a sales office, usually a large arched gate would mark the entrance. Once these were in place the cold hard selling could begin. In Tampania's instance, the gate also served as the sales, or "field", office. Here you can see the company had it's own sales bus that could bring potential buyers right to the site.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hiding our past

One would think that the Floridan Hotel and the Tampa Theater building are the last remaining historic high rises left in downtown tampa. Well, that isn't true. There is another 1920s era skyscraper still gracing our skyline.

The large 12 story structure built in 1925 was formally called the Wallace S. Building (The 4 story adjacent structure was home to the Tampa Morning Tribune) and it sits on block bordered by Ashley, Twiggs, Tampa and Zack. Today it is better known as the Huntington Bank building (formally Gold Bank) and my how it has changed.

(The above picture is from Emporis.com)

In the late 60s / early 70s the building underwent a major renovation. Elevator shafts were added on the South side of building, the window court was closed in and she got the royal Florida stucco treatment. All remaining buildings on the block were demolished, making way for the most important feature of late 20th century downtowns, parking! While the renovation hardly does the original justice, it ultimately saved the building during a period when most of downtowns historic structures were being neglected and/or demolished.
There are many more buildings throughout Tampa that have received updates and renovations that hide their historic character, but this is probably the best and most dramatic example.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Ah, Tampa! That beautiful, sunny, humid "second-rate" city on Florida's Gulf Coast. Tourists, new comers, and school children are beaten over the head with a history and culture that centers around cigar factories, Cuban sandwiches and hotel minarets. Apparently, Tampa was nothing until some Connecticut Yankee decided to build his guilded age masterpiece hotel on her riverfront and bring in the railroad. Of course, several more events and developments contributed to Tampa's growth than just these. On this blog I will highlight many of my own personal discoveries and other interesting facts about Tampa's built environment and development. Here I will wax poetic about demolished buildings and crumbling infrastructure. I will also try to explain this anomoly that is a Rust-belt city of the New South. I am a Tampanian and this is my Tampa.