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)

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
I have over 100 entries on my map representing demolished buildings, infrastructure, neighborhoods or landscape features.  Around the time I started this I heard of interactive maps others were creating across the country.  One of my favorite applications was created for the City of Philadelphia's picture archives.  Philadelphia has gone through most of the salvageable pictures in their collection, scanned them and mapped them.  You can visit PhillyHistory.org and visit places like the old Moyamensing Prison or see what Broad Street looked like 50 years ago:

 I would love to see something similar created for Tampa.  A few years ago the University of Florida had started the "Ephemeral Cities" program where they would take various pictures and objects from 1880-1920 from their archives and archives of the cities of Tampa, Gainesville and Key West and map them against scans of old Sandborn Maps.  Sadly I have never seen the application function.  However I am excited about a new project that is starting at USF , spearheaded by Prof. Trent Green and many of his students at the School of Architecture.  With the recent discovery of most of the drawings from M. Leo Elliot, Prof. Green and his students will be scanning in the drawings and recreate many of the buildings on the computer in 3D.  Using their application anyone will be able to view both the exterior and interior of say the exquisite Tampa Gas Company building that was torn down in 1993, along with the First National Bank Building, in one of the worst blunders in Tampa preservation history. 


  1. Such a great idea!

    My friend works at the digital library center at UF. I'll ask him about Ephermeal Cities project.

    We have taken such a similar path, from high school in Brandon, to Gainesville, and now back here again.

  2. Thanks, I'd love to hear an update on the ephemeral cities project. Maybe there was something in the Brandon water that made us this way!