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)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Demolition of 1211 N. Tampa

Well, I am beginning to wonder if I should continue doing posts highlighting abandoned buildings.  Back in August I posted about a cute little 3-story building at 1211 N. Tampa Street.  It is my sad duty to report that after Thanksgiving crews rolled in and started slowly chipping away at the brick facade, it was truly a Black Friday.
Friday, November 25
Saturday, November 26

Saturday, November 26

Monday, November 28

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bro Bowl Doc

There is a documentary about the Bro Bowl that was made a year or two ago, it finally got posted on the You Tube's so I thought I would share it here.  The legendary skateboard "bowl", built by the City of Tampa's Parks & Rec Dept. at Perry Harvey Sr. Park.  The bowl is still standing, but for how long?  Good little doc. featuring historic footage, interviews with locals, celebs and featuring music from some awesome local bands!  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Re/Creating Tampa: 101 Ideas for a Better City

David Davisson over at Re/Creating Tampa has been diligently blogging for the past 2 years or so.  His blog is like a feed providing highlights from the Tampa blogosphere and sharing random thoughts, interestingness and ideas from non-Tampa media.  And yes, occasionally this blog makes the cut!  I have never seen a more thorough directory of Tampa related blogs, as the one provided on the margin of Re/Creating Tampa.  Well, now you can peruse Re/Creating Tampa, the book "Re/Creating Tampa: 101 Ideas for a Better City".  The book is chock full with ideas (101 to be exact) to help make Tampa a better place.  From the obvious (#8 Increase the population density) to the creative (#56 Human-Powered Carnival Rides in Public Parks) the list starts off strong addressing one of my favorite topics, the annoyance of overbearing Historic Districts (#1 Innovative Neighborhood Designations).  Another gem and the one that probably embodies the essence of the term "Re/Creating Tampa", #91 Return mutual aid societies.

Thank you David for giving us some food for thought!  

So, check it out already!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kress building

Kress in late 2010 when the plywood came off the windows.

I recently did a post for Creative Loafing's Daily Loaf blog regarding the recent happenings, or non-happenings, at the Kress building in downtown Tampa.  You can read the post here.  While public safety is of the utmost importance in planning events and permitting events, bringing a long vacant early 20th century building up to today's fire and life safety codes is a long and expensive process.  The owners of the Kress building and the City of Tampa have been caught up in a preservation / development battle that is going on 5 years now.  The battle started after the loss of the historic Gary school to neglect.  After that event the city turned its eye to other threatened landmarks and the former Kress department store downtown was #1 on the list.  Below is a list of links that provides a rudimentary timeline of major events over the past 4 years:





I should be providing a few more posts for Creative Loafing.  I'll be focusing on local architecture and related events, so stay tuned.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Davis Medical Building

When looking at Davis Islands it can seem a strange phenomena, part residential neighborhood and part medical complex with an airport at the tip.  I recently discovered that the islands were intended by the city in the 1920s to become parkland.  Then Davis came in with his million dollar idea to turn most of the island into a residential development.  The land at the North end of the islands, North of the bridge was set aside for Tampa's municipal hospital, the City took the Southern tip and land along the channel.  The development of Davis Islands really occured in 2 phases.  Phase 1 was the initial development that occurred in the 1920s.  Only the middle section of the island was used for this development with the building of numerous apartment buildings and a few commercial buildings.  But when the Florida real estate market collapsed in the late 20s development and property sales on the islands ground to a halt.  Phase 2 occured in the 1950s with the post-war boom.  During this time an annex was built at Tampa General Hospital.  Developers gobbled up the scores of lots that were left vacant after the bust and began building new homes.  Along with the hospital expansion in the 1950s medical offices were built on the island, mostly 1 Davis Boulevard and 17 Davis Boulevard.
1 Davis Boulevard is one of my favorite modern structures in Tampa.  You drive across the bridge and this building sits there greeting you.  It may seem outdated, but really it is a gem!  Designed by Tampa's own Mark Hampton, part of the Sarasota School of Architecture.  The Davis Medical Building, built in 1958, must have been an interesting sight for residents used to the Spanish Mediterranean style prevalent throughout the island.  The building is a box 7 stories tall, the 2nd through 7th floors appear as a perfect square elevated above the ground on concrete columns.  The 1960 edition of the Florida Architect mentions that the blue tiled "boxes" on the ground floor house the mechanical functions and operational offices for the building.  These elements do not extend the full height of the ground floor, but stop a few feet below the Second level.  Plates of glass fill the gap and enclose the lobby, furthering the feeling of an open area below the box.  One of the most interesting details is the fact that the East and West facades are covered in sand colored gravel the surrounding sidewalk area of the lot is also covered in the same material, although it has been heavily worn away.  Typical of the modern era the North and South walls are filled with windows that are shaded by concrete overhangs.  The East and West walls have fewer windows clustered towards the middle of the building, they also sport the same overhangs but sunshades are placed over them, these elements carry a distinctively mid-century pattern.

Burgert Bros. aerial view of Norther tip of Davis Island, Davis Medical Building is seen at the top left (1959)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crane Co. Demolition

Demolition of the 1925 Crane Company building in Channelside began in mid-September.  I tried to photograph the progress, you can see my efforts below.  While the building was given a generous remodel in 2000, the fate of this building was sealed during the boom.  The site was designated for a development called the Martin.  It appears that much of the material from the building is going to be salvaged.

September 15, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1701 E. 7th Ave (Broadway)

Ybor City looks like a town stuck in time, however it is a constantly changing place.  Buildings come down and another goes up, businesses move out and another comes in to take its place.  Various civic leaders and the city government have made sure that the look and feel of the historic district remains true to its roots.  Ybor City was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, The Ybor City National Historic District was created in 1989 and the Barrio Latina Commission started in 1959. Some say that the design review process for the area is too strict, stifling growth in an are that is just now starting to emerge from the damage wrought by urban renewal and the building of the interstate

I recently stumbled upon a picture of the bank at 1701 E. 7th Avenue, currently a SunTrust branch it was built as the Broadway National Bank (7th is also known as Broadway) opening in 1955.  The design of the building has always stuck out to me as a rather odd solution for building a modern structure in a historic area.   However, I would have never guessed that this building was as old as it was and originally such a shining example of Mid-Century modern urban infill.  Although just a big block it retains qualities of modern architecture prevalent in bank building during the time.  Pinkish marble adorns the front facade, brick surrounds the side and back windowless walls, and a linear line of windows punctuates the front.

The demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe high rise housing development in St. Louis in 1972 is considered to be the death of modern architecture.  However, it appears that modern design was unwelcome in Ybor City even before this event.  This building was targeted in the late 60s as part of the Ybor City Urban renewal project dubbed "R-13".  A 1967 article states that the building would receive a "Mediterranean" style facade.  However the building was given a rather odd arcaded brick facade the overhang was shortened and ornamental ironwork was added.  It seems to be a rather economical solution.  This building is not listed as a contributing structure to the Ybor City National Historic District.

The only building I have seen in the area with a "similar" treatment is located at 1725 E. 8th.  Currently used as office space, the little one-story block building received wood shutters, a fake tile barrel overhang and ornate ironwork railings and columns.  However this building was built in 1961 after the inception of the Barrio Latina, perhaps this is one of the first examples of their hand in the design review process for the district?  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The HUB of downtown existence

Recently I came upon a set of videos that someone took of patrons at the HUB bar in downtown Tampa twenty years ago, in 1991.  The HUB opened in 1946 at 701 N. Florida as a package lounge (around the block from its current location). Smack dab in the middle of downtown, next to the federal courthouse it soon became a popular place. The 70s and 80s saw the decline of downtown, but it is apparent from the video that one business was still thriving during this time.  Downtown workers, UT students and passers-through still needed a watering hole that served affordable, yet strong drinks in a friendly atmosphere. The HUB and its patrons have seen a lot of change over the years; regulars came and went, buildings were demolished and sometimes new ones were built in their place. Around the 38 minute mark one patron mentions the night he walked towards the HUB through what he thought was fog, it was actually the building across the street burning. That building was the beautiful downtown YMCA, which burned down in June 1991, the lot has remained a parking lot ever since.  The HUB moved in 2000 to 718 N. Franklin, and I believe they took the bar, chairs and tables with them. The jukebox is still pretty good and it's nice to sit at the bar, talk to a stranger and watch a train or two roll by.  Check out their website for a more history and pictures http://www.thehubbartampa.com/

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1211 Tampa Street

There is a little 3 story building situated on Tampa Street just South of the State Administration building.  It is boarded up and painted over and it appears that the first floor street side has received a rather odd treatment over the years. It is probably one of the oldest buildings left on a stretch of Tampa between the interstate and Twiggs.  The property appraiser lists 1925 as the date this structure was built, however the building shows up in the 1915 Sandborn map online.  It is listed as a Grocer's Warehouse with apartments above.  Below, you can see the building as it was in the 20s (the 3 story building with the balcony).  The little building that currently abuts it to the South was built in the early 50s. The building of the interstate and then the State Building to the immediate North contributed to a decline in the immediate area.  However, this area is seeing a resurgence.  I look at the 1211 Tampa building and see potential, it is fortunate that it has survived through the years.
The immediate area along N. Franklin, including this building, was listed as a National Historic District several years ago.  Many of the buildings listed have already been renovated and repurposed, like Fly Bar and the Arlington apartment block.  But, a listing on the National Register does not mean that the building is protected.  I assume that the main reason no one has bought and restored the 1211 Tampa building is that the lot line follows the building with only about 10 additional feet in the rear (see aerial layout from the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's website below).  This leaves no room for parking. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Balbin Bros. Cigar Factory In Trouble

Is the 1904 Cigar Factory at 1202 N. Howard in trouble?  I drove by the building last night and saw that the front overhang is now crumbling apart.  Is this to be a sign of things to come?  Bought in 2006 by Intellident, it was to have been rehabbed in similar fashion to the Berrimen-Morgan factory up the street and become the companies new office.  But it seems to have became a victim of the downturn.  This building is not designated locally as a landmark or on the National Register.  However, it is within the West Tampa National Historic District.  Doing a google search, Intellident has a history of the building located on their website. 

Great map and list of the remaining factory buildings in Tampa:  http://www.cigarsoftampa.com/tpa-factoriesmap.html

Gator Preservationist post on our unprotected cigar factories, including the Balbin Bros.:  http://gatorpreservationist.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/cigar-factories-of-tampa-part-2/

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ybor tunnels myth comes to light again!

ABC news recently did a story on how the now mythic Ybor City tunnels may have once again been uncovered during recent downpours.
The Ybor City bootlegging tunnels are perhaps one of the greatest urban legends in the Tampa Bay area.  Solidified in popular culture in Scott Dietche's book "Cigar City Mafia" it is believed that bootleggers had dug tunnels under many of the establishments and clubs along the main drag in Ybor City connecting them to the port for illegal liquor shipments;
"Under the crowded streets of Ybor is a series of tunnels, the use of which has never been fully documented.  The tunnels run under some of the early gaming palaces and down along the streets toward the port of Tampa."  
The most recent sighting was on the Southwest Corner of 15th Street and 7th Ave, across from Czar Nightclub (former Los Novidades).  I went out later this week and it appears someone has left a stake around the area where this "hole" formed.
 The Southwest corner of 15th and 7th Avenue is the site of the former Blue Ribbon Supermarket which was family owned for years and then purchased by a developer in mid 2000.  However the building "mysteriously" went up in flames in August 2000, and was demolished the next day.  An interesting video from Fox 13 provides more of a background.

Photos from St. Pete Times (Article links above)
 Even more curious is the fact that the 1931 Sandborn Maps indicate that this address was home to the Ybor City Post Office.  Why would tunnels be built into a building which houses offices of the federal government?  Below is a picture of the building in the 1925 from the Burgert Bros. Collection. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

401 E. Washington

Sometimes a building just excites, and the little building at 401 E. Washington in Downtown Tampa is such a building.  Situated on the corner of Florida and Washington, the building is surrounded by parking garages and skyscrapers, right on the edge of the Southern downtown parking lot wasteland.  You've probably driven by it dozens of times.  It's usually open and lit at night, as you speed by you notice a spiral staircase leading up into the ceiling of the first.  It just seems like an abandoned building spending its last days waiting for something else to come along.  However, the building has been blessed with longevity despite recent turns in the downtown real estate market.
401 E. Washington was built in 1946 as built by a growing Ferman Motor Co. as the Ferman Olds sales and Chevrolet service center.  It was directly across Washington from the original Ferman Chevrolet motor sales and service building on Jackson and Marion (You can see 401 Washington peeking out behind the Jackson building in the picture above).  In the early days of the last century, just as with other major retailers, most automobile showrooms were placed in downtown shopping districts.  The building is three floors, with a small showroom nestled into the Northwest corner of the building.  The rest of building is open garage and service areas.  As you can see in the picture above, one would just drive right into the service area on the first floor.  A steep ramp in the center of the building takes you up to the second floor level, not sure if this level was more service or for car storage. (More pictures and narrative after the jump)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Historic Tampa Google Map

Growing up in Brandon and Tampa I had always dreamed of moving away as soon as I was old enough.  I only got as far away as Gainesville for college.  As soon as I was done with school I moved right back in with my parents and started working in Tampa.  I accepted my lot and started exploring more of the city, meeting new people, discovering new places and learning more about the history of the city.  I could start to see how the city was changing.  Around this time the real estate bubble was just beginning to inflate, empty lots were being built on and old buildings were being bought to make way for new.  Some of these places I had remembered seeing or going to as a child, but my memory was fuzzy and I couldn't really see the building in my head.  So I stumbled upon the Burgert Bros. Collection and started to browse through pictures of these places.  I also discovered pictures of some amazing buildings and places that were gone by the time I was born.  I become obsessed with placing these building and spaces on google maps.  Sometimes I find that the building was still there but heavily modified.  Sometimes I'd hope to find a trace of something, a tangible link to the past.  Four years ago I started making a map to highlight my finds.  More after the jump...

View Historical Tampa in a larger map

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things are changing on Bayshore

Out jogging last night and caught these huge monsters laying in wait around Rome and Bayshore.  It made me wonder if the city is adding another traffic signal, perhaps at Rome and Bayshore, although the work descriptions only note upgrades to existing traffic signals.

The City of Tampa's website describes the work as this:
Phase I of the project will provide for continuous 4 foot bicycle lanes in both directions along Bayshore Boulevard between Platt Street to Rome Avenue.  The existing 4-lane roadway, between Platt Street and the Davis Island Bridge, will be modified to provide 4 foot continuous bicycle lanes and a concrete median.  The existing 6-lane roadway, between the Davis Island Bridge and Rome Avenue will be modified to a 4-lane roadway with a 14 foot grassed median and 4 foot bike lanes.  The project will also include upgrading the existing traffic signals and enhanced pedestrian features at the intersections of Bay-to-Bay Boulevard and Platt Street.  These enhancements will provide for improved safety for pedestrians and bicyclists that utilize Bayshore Boulevard. 
St. Pete Times article

Sunday, May 15, 2011

National Train Day post HSR

Saturday, May 7th was the 4th Annual National Train Day event at Tampa Union Station, so I ventured out for the first time.  The station was abuzz with young kids and older train enthusiasts(both model and regular sized), and also May 21st Doomsdayers!?

Falling somewhere in middle of the 15-65 category, and not toting around one of the former, I admit I felt a little out of place so I strolled through as quickly and quietly as possible.  I went with camera in tow hoping to capture some amazing train architecture and infrastructure (accomplished - see pictures below).  I also was hoping to catch someone with some information on the future of the state's high speed rail plans (nothing).  As if the current news of Florida's HSR dollars finally being offered to other projects around the country wasn't enough (see here and here), it seems that FLHSR has given up fully as their website is currently down.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Digitized Historic Aerial Photo Collection

TampaTerminal on the Ybor Channel looking North, Northeast towards the Tampa Gas Company storage tank (1956)
Somehow while searching for historic pictures I came across a collection of historic aerial photographs digitized by the University of South Florida that I had never seen before, The Graber Collection of Florida Aerial Photographs.  The USF website for the collection states:
"As early as 1949, Robert Graber and his company, Airflite Aerial Photographers, began photographing the growth of Florida's west coast.  By the time Graber stopped taking aerial photographs in 1990, the St. Petersburg photographer had accumulated approximately 27,000 aerial shots, many of which are presented here.
The Graber Collection of Aerial Photography consists of more than 8,000 individual photographic negatives spanning 1949-1990. The photographs are dated and indexed according to the records of the original photographer; logbooks provide additional information about many of the aerial shots. Most of the photographs, which were taken by Graber with a K-24 military surveillance camera, document land development and construction on Florida's west coast. The collection was donated by Ken and JoAnne Taylor in 1997.  There are 4,781 images online from the years 1956-1959."
While most of the photographs available online seem to be of development along the Pinellas beaches and in Pinellas county, there are some great shots of Tampa and development taking place there during 1956-1959.  Many are shots from angles I am not use to seeing or of areas that didn't get a lot of attention from the Burgert's.  Please keep in mind that most of the photos are low resolution or low quality.  Below are some highlights:

Railroad tracks through Hyde Park and Dobyville are looking Southwest centered over Platt and Dakota (1957)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tampania Tweets

I am starting a twitter feed for Tampania.  While I hope it will prove to be a good platform for short bursts of creativity and thinking, ruminations on the Tampa landscape, and news.  I am sure there will also be a lot of relevant re-tweets.  So follow me if you tweet and maybe I'll do the same to you.

Long distance switch operators at Peninsular Telephone, Tampa (1948) Burgert Bros.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tunnel Under the Bridge Downtown NOW OPEN

Went for a bike ride through downtown recently and was surprised as I rode over the Platt Street bridge to see a sign that said "Pedestrian Tunnel Open"!  You may recall my recent post where I noted that I hadn't even known of this tunnel until my friend posted some pictures on his blog.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ghosts of the garrison

It was a lovely day for a bike ride, so I headed for downtown.  It was still a little too chilly in the shadows of the downtown skyscrapers so I pedaled over towards the parking wasteland of South downtown.  I'm always fascinated when I travel through this area at how the bodies of the buildings that once dotted this area are still visible.  Most the buildings were knocked down only to their foundations.

Sometimes a foot or two of wall was left to serve as a type of barrier between the street and lot.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Railroad Yards

One of my favorite images in the Burgert Brothers Collection is this cirkut picture taken of Atlantic Coast Line railroad shop employees grouped in front of and on a locomotive at the Uceta Rail Yards taken in 1929:
I don't know what is the most interesting part of this photo; the process, the fact that the photographers got all or the majority of these people to stand still, the diversity of the workers, or the building looming to the right?  These rail yards are still at the heart of CSXs operations in Tampa and it appears that old shop is still standing.  Take a ride down Adamo between Tampa and Brandon and on the east side of 50th street you drive past a lot filled with trees, punctuated by a signed entranced to CSX.  You would never know that this building and a whole rail yard lie beyond.  However if you drive the elevated crosstown expressway and peer over to the yard you will see this building.
Picture taken 1988