Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Burying our Past - Spanishtown Creek

The first recorded non-native settlement in Tampa was at Spanishtown Creek.  It was said to be inhabited by Cuban fishermen around 1783, many decades before Fort Brooke was established.  Up until the establishment of Henry Plant's railway and hotel in the late 1880s this area was mainly farmland and homesteads.  After Plant's hotel was built tony neighborhoods began to platted directly south of the hotel, centering along Hyde Park Ave. (named after Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood) and Plant Ave.  Slowly this area started to become more developed.  Below is the original plat map of the Packwoods Subdivision from 1892, from the Hills. Co. Property Appraisers site which shows the path of the creek at that time and how the lots and streets would be laid out:

Below views of the bridge being built over the creek at Bay Street (between Magnolia and Hyde Park) taken in 1906 (Burgert Bros. Collection).  The last picture is of the creek running through culverts under Magnolia Avenue, South of the intersection with DeLeon.

Slowly but surely Spanishtown Creek was partly filled in and built over, ultimately being incorporated into Tampa's vast stormwater drainage system.  The map below is from the 1931 volume of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps:

Then in the mid 30s the WPA came in and created the Bayshore Blvd. we know today, with a concrete roadbed and beautiful balustraded seawall.  You can barely make the creek in the Aerial taken in 1948 (notice that the old streetcar line making a bend through the "Spring Block" noted in the original plat map):

Today the only indication of it's location are drains and an outlet under the newer (South) Davis Islands bridge Bayshore on-ramp.

There is also this istorical marker placed at the park on Bay Street directly over the former path of the creek.


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  2. Please checkout this awesome 2013 post by Becky O'Sullivan tracing the route of Spanishtown Creek on the "Experience Archaeology" blog: