In honor of Women's History Month, Visit Tampa Bay looks at some of the women who helped create our community. First up: Paulina Pedroso.
Paulina Pedroso, Savior of Revolution
In a quiet corner of Ybor City stands a park dedicated to José Martí -- poet, journalist, and political firebrand -- known to the Cuban people as the Apostle of Revolution. Martí spent years struggling to free his island from the control of Spain. He found strong support for his revolution among the Cuban immigrants who rolled cigars in Tampa Bay's Ybor City community. Chief among those was Paulina Pedroso.
Cuban-born Pedroso owned a boarding house at the corner of 8th Avenue and 12th Street where Martí stayed whenever he visited Tampa Bay to give speeches and drum up moral and financial support for his cause. Her house became a hub for planning the revolution. During a visit in 1893, Martí was poisoned by agent of Spain. He was carried to Pedroso's house and nursed back to health and protected until he was strong enough to return to his work.
Eventually, Pedroso's house fell into disrepair and was demolished. In 1956, the land became the property of the Cuban people -- who continue to own it today. The tiny park is international territory and, until the Cuban embassy reopened in 2015, was the only piece of Cuban-owned soil in the United States. The park is protected with tall fences, but opened to the public during the day. A statue honors José Martí, and Pedroso, who helped save Martí at a crucial time in Cuba's history, is honored with her own monument there.
Paulina Pedroso has a marker on the Tampa Rivewalk describing her contribution to Tampa Bay's history. You can find it near the Tampa Bay History Center.