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CELEBRATING

TAMPA BAY'S DIVERSITY

Tampa Bay’s diverse blend of people and cultures is the foundation of its success as a welcoming community open to new ideas and new visitors. We invite you to discover for yourself the many facets of Florida’s Most diverse destination. Our diversity has come with struggle, but through the struggle we have grown stronger as a community. We celebrate our diversity year-round with festivals, parades, and restaurants that fuse the best part of our kaleidoscope of cultures into unique creations.

 

THE MANY LAYERS OF TAMPA BAY

From its earliest days, Tampa Bay has thrived on the diversity of its people. Cuban cigar rollers and African-American musicians helped lay the foundation for a modern metropolis that remains a magnet for fortune-seekers from across the country and around the world – newcomers who add their own unique flavors to the mix of local life. Wherever they come from, visitors easily find themselves reflected in the people they meet here. They also experience languages, rituals, and cultures they’ve never known. Simply put, its multicultural charm is Tampa Bay’s greatest treasure.

 

 

AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE

Perry Harvey Park
Perry Harvey Park
Perry Harvey Park
Perry Harvey Park
Perry Harvey Park
Perry Harvey Park

The history of Tampa’s African-American populace is embodied in Perry Harvey, Sr. Park. Named for a local civil rights leader, the park is situated just north of downtown in the area once dubbed “The Scrub.” Ex-slaves settled there after earning their freedom and eventually created the bustling business Central Avenue district and Chitlin Circuit hub drawing musicians like Cab Calloway and Ella Fitzgerald. Ray Charles got his start playing in clubs here. Originally developed in 1979 as a recreation spot for local youths, the park pays homage to the community’s African-American heritage with unique contextual artwork.

 

How Tampa Made Music History:
 

 


 

NATIVE AMERICAN ORIGINS

History Center

photo by Amy Pezzicara

 

Though the indigenous natives of Florida were virtually gone by the 1700s and the migratory Seminole tribe that rose in their place has dwindled to the hundreds, you can gain insight into the area’s earliest cultures at the Tampa Bay History Center. Its permanent collection encompasses an exhibit of Tocobaga and Calusa artifacts—including a 2,000-year old canoe— while the immersive Coacoochee’s Story Theater documents the experiences of Seminole Chief Coacoochee during the Second Seminole War. The nearby Ulele restaurant serves innovative Native-inspired eats. The menu includes ingredients the area’s original inhabitants likely raised, caught, hunted or harvested from nearby land and waters.

 


 

HISPANIC INFLUENCES

Spain laid claim to Florida early but Tampa’s Hispanic population skyrocketed in the 1880s after Vicente Martinez Ybor moved his cigar-making operations to Tampa, drawing an influx of immigrants to work in the factories that sprung up in what is now Ybor City. Though it’s become a thriving nationally registered historic district that draws tourists and locals alike with restaurants, shops, businesses and a lively nightlife, you can see remnants of Ybor’s early community in the preserved casitas nestled around Ybor City Museum and Park. Its 1920s-era building (formerly the Ferlita Bakery) houses exhibits that chronicle the district’s history, industry and growth, as well as highlighting Cuban, Spanish, Italian and other ethnic groups that lived there and the societies and clubs that served them.

The Identity Crisis of the Cuban Sandwich:
 

Built in 1914, the historic and majestic Centro Asturiano de Tampa was home to one of Ybor’s earliest Spanish social clubs. These days, Centro is put to use as an event facility with spaces such as the luxurious Grand Ballroom—with all 14 original mirrors still intact—and the regal 1,000-seat theater replete with balcony views and original stage rig and lights for occasions ranging from wedding receptions to quinceañeras, to concerts, plays, recitals and benefit galas.

Ybor
Ybor City
Ybor
Ybor
Ybor City Museum
Jose Marti Park
Ybor
Viva Ybor

And while the cigar industry in Ybor operates on a smaller scale today, you can still find several spots with authentic tastes, including award-winning Tabanero Cigars, where Cuban-style cigars are expertly rolled by hand.

Another must-stop for faithful Hispanic flavor: the fourth generation-owned Naviera Coffee Mills, which produces 14 unique blends and serves fresh cups (and freshly roasted beans and ground bags) from its aromatic El Molino Gourmet Coffee Shop. If you’re hungry, Ybor’s vast Hispanic food options will surely solve that. There’s the family-friendly El Puerto (Argentinian, El Salvadorian, Mexican), bread-and-pastry-centric La Segunda Central Bakery (Cuban) and, of course, for fine Spanish/Cuban dining, renown mainstay Columbia Restaurant. The district honors its Hispanic heritage in a big way with the seven-decades-old Fiesta Day, a blow-out that closes 7th Avenue to traffic and opens it up to strolling locals who enjoy a day of Latin music, arts and crafts, family-friendly fun and a vast array of food with a highlight in the creamy dessert competition, Flan Fest.


 

ASIAN AMERICAN IMPACT

Dragon Boat Races

 

The History Walk LIFETILES by Rufus Butler Seder bring past moments from the Scrub and Central Avenue to life using historic photographs hand-cast in optical tile murals, and James Simon’s giant (12-to-16-foot) sculptures of musicians, dancers and jukebox, a vibrant and whimsical nod to the area’s musical legacy. The contributions of Tampa’s African-American community are celebrated annually during Tampa Black Heritage Festival, a city-wide affair held in conjunction with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and spanning nearly two weeks with offerings that include live entertainment, sporting events, cultural festivities, speaking engagements and workshops, and a weekend music fest featuring big name R&B artists alongside locally grown talent.