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Tampa Bay, FL City Guide

Tampa is a city located in Hillsborough County on the west coast of Florida. It is the largest city in the Tampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater metropolitan area which is composed of roughly 2.5 million residents. It is the county seat of Hillsborough County.

Tampa's Annual Events

Bonk Festival of New Music is an annual event to promote public awareness of new music and to foster relationships between musicians. It takes place at a variety of venues around Tampa.

Florida State Fair lasts about a week in February and features livestock, food, entertainment and midway rides. It takes place at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a daytime parade that takes place one Saturday in February.

Sant'Yago Knight Parade is an illuminated nighttime parade that takes place one Saturday in February in Ybor City.

Guavaween offers daytime events and nighttime parade one Saturday in October in Ybor City.

Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival lasts a little over a week during October. The movies are primarily shown at the Tampa Theatre although other local venues are occasionally used as well.

Tampa Geography

Tampa is located on the West coast of Florida at 27°58'15" North, 82°27'53" West (27.970898, -82.464640)1. Is is bordered by two bodies of water: Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 441.9 km² (170.6 mi²). 290.3 km² (112.1 mi²) of it is land and 151.6 km² (58.5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 34.31% water.

Tampa Demographics

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 303,447 people, 124,758 households, and 71,236 families residing in the city. The 2003 population estimate is 321,487. The population density is 1,045.4/km² (2,707.8/mi²). There are 135,776 housing units at an average density of 467.8/km² (1,211.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 64.22% White, 26.07% Black or African American, 0.38% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.15% Asian, 0.09% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 4.17% from other races, and 2.92% from two or more races. 19.29% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 124,758 households out of which 27.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% are married couples living together, 16.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 42.9% are non-families. 33.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.36 and the average family size is 3.07.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $34,415, and the median income for a family is $40,517. Males have a median income of $31,452 versus $26,133 for females. The per capita income for the city is $21,953. 18.1% of the population and 14.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 26.8% of those under the age of 18 and 15.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Tampa Weather

Being on the coast, winter sees mild temperatures. Highs stay between 65 and 95°F (18 and 33 °C), and lows rarely go below 40°F (about 5°C). The air is significantly humid, and sometimes there is fog at night and mist in the morning. This lasts for about two months. The rest of the year is warm to hot, especially June through September. Typical weather for a peak-of-summer day in July or August involves highs around 90 °F (32 °C) and high humidity. Stepping outside has been likened by some to walking into a sauna. The summer nighttime temperature drops to only around 75 °F (23 °C). Thunderstorms are a major concern on summer afternoons, especially since Florida is the lightning capital of the U.S. High winds, small hail, and torrential rain often accompany these storms as well, which are generally more severe when blowing in from the land to the east, rather than the water to the west. These storms often survive out over the Gulf at night, where they are easily seen from land.

Tampa's Economy

Like much of Florida, Tampa's economy is heavily based on services and tourism. There is a huge net influx of cash into the area. Many wealthy people have winter houses there, and the upscale Tampa Palms neighborhood is a favorite destination for retired sports stars. Many corporations, such as large banks and telecommunications companies, maintain regional offices in Tampa, and the city is an extremely popular location for call centers.

Tampa's Attractions and points of interest

Click here for a list of Tampa's Tourist Attractions such as Museums, Zoo, Parks, Theatres...

Tampa's Cinemas

Tampa Theatre is a historic movie palace that shows a wide range of independent, foreign and classic films in addition to an occassional live show. It also is the home of several film festivals that occur thoughout the year.
Museum Of Science and Industry (MOSI) has an IMAX dome theater
Fun-Lan Drive-In is the only drive-in theater left in Tampa. Fun-Lan has three screens each showing first-run movies. There is also a flea market in the morning five days per week.

Colleges and universities

Click here for a list of Tampa's Universities, Colleges and High Schools

Tampa's Sports teams

Tampa is home to three different professional sports teams.

Tampa Newspapers

St. Petersburg Times
The Tampa Tribune
La Gaceta: The nation's only trilingual newspaper, written in English, Spanish and Italian
Weekly Planet: A free "alternative" tabloid

MacDill Air Force Base

MacDill Air Force Base, located in south Tampa, is home to CENTCOM, the Central Command of the United States military; and SOCOM, the Special Operations Command. The base is run by the 6 Air Mobility Wing, and includes both the 310th Airlift Squadron, flying the C-37, and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, flying the KC-135.

The base flightline was closed in the 1991 round of base closings under the Base Realignment and Closure committee discussions; at the time, the base was used for F-16 training and the air traffic in the Tampa area was considered detrimental to training; the noise produced was also considered inappropriate in a densely settled area. However, despite committee recommendations, the base remained open to house and support CENTCOM and SOCOM. The flightline was reopened in 1993 for NOAA operations, and in 1996 the air refueling squadron moved to the base from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Approximately 14,000 people work at MacDill Air Force Base. It is a significant contributor to Tampa's economy, and the city is very supportive of the military community. In 2003 and 2004, the Tampa Bay area was awarded the Abilene Trophy, which annually honors the most supportive Air Force city in the country.

Tampa Airports

Tampa International Airport is the city's main airport. In March 2003, Conde Nast Traveler Magazine ranked the airport #1 in the US and #3 in the world. There is also a smaller general aviation terminal called Peter O. Knight Airport which is located on Davis Island near downtown. Saint Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport is across the bay and offers another option for air travelers.

Tampa Train Stations

Amtrak services Tampa via the Tampa Union Station which is near downtown.

Tampa Sea Ports

Several cruise ships make use of the Port of Tampa, located in the Channel District.

Tampa Mass Transit

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HARTline) operates the streetcars as well as the bus system.

Tampa's Streetcars

The TECO Line Streetcar System, which links Ybor City, the Channel District and downtown Tampa, began operating on Saturday, 19 October 2002. Although quite limited in the scope of areas that it services, the air-conditioned cars do offer a comfortable and nostalgic method of getting around.

Tampa Buses

HARTline has signed transit deals with both the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa, allowing HARTline buses to transfer students and faculty from the two campuses to other areas of Tampa free of charge as long as proof of affiliation with the school is presented.

History of Tampa, FL

The word "Tampa" is an American Indian word used to refer to the area when the first European explorers arrived in Florida. Its meaning, if any, has been lost to the ages, though it is sometimes claimed to mean "sticks of fire" in the language of the Calusa, a Native American tribe. Other historians claim the name refers to "The place to gather sticks".

Spanish conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez was the first European known to have visited the Tampa area, on April 8, 1528. Hernando DeSoto arrived a year later to rescue the only remaining living member of de Narvaez's expedition. A peace treaty was conducted with the local Indians and a short-lived Spanish outpost was established, but this was abandoned when it became clear that there was no gold in the area, and that the local Indians were not interested in converting to Catholicism and were too skilled as warriors to easily conquer.

When England acquired Florida in 1763, the bay was named Hillsborough Bay, after Lord Hillsborough, Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Spain transferred Florida to the United States in 1821 (see Adams-Onis Treaty). An Indian reservation was established in what is now north Tampa. As part of efforts to firmly establish United States control over southern Florida, then a vast swampy wilderness with sparse Seminole Indian population, a military outpost ("Cantonment Brooke") was established at what is now the Tampa Convention Center in downtown Tampa in 1823 by Colonels George Mercer Brooke and James Gadsen. In 1824, the post was renamed Fort Brooke. It was a vital military asset in the Seminole Wars. The village of Tampa began to grow up around the fort. The fort was decommissioned in 1883. Except for two cannons now on the University of Tampa campus, all traces of the fort are now gone.

Tampa was incorporated in 1849 with 185 inhabitants (excluding military personnel stationed at Fort Brooke), and Judge Joseph B. Lancaster became the first Mayor in 1856. During the Civil War, Fort Brooke was occupied by Confederate troops, and martial law was declared in Tampa. In 1862, a Union gunboat shelled the city during the Battle of Tampa. Union forces took Fort Brooke in May of 1864, and occupied the town for the next year.

Phosphate was discovered in the area in 1883. Tampa is now one of the world's leading phosphate exporters. Henry B. Plant's railroad reached the town shortly thereafter, enabling the commercial fishing industry to thrive.

In 1885, the Tampa Board of Trade persuaded Vincente M. Ybor to move his cigar manufacturing operations to Tampa from Key West. The Ybor City district was built to accommodate the factories and their workers. Tampa soon became a major cigar production center. Thousands of Italian and Cuban immigrants arrived in Tampa to work at the factories.

Henry Plant built a lavish luxury hotel in the city in 1883, which is now the campus of the University of Tampa.

Tampa was an embarkation center for American troops during the Spanish-American War. Coloniel Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were part of the 30,000 troops stationed in Tampa for training.

In 1904, local civic association Ye Mystic Krewe "invaded" the city for the first time, establishing the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Franklin Street, looking North, Tampa c. 1910s-1920sIllegal bolita lotteries became very popular among the Tampa working classes, especially in Ybor City, where many gambling parlors sprang up. Profits from the bolita lotteries and Prohibition-era bootlegging led to the development of several organized crime factions in the city. The first boss of Tampa's organized crime world was Charlie Wall, a cracker; but various power struggles culminated in consolidation of control by Sicilian mafioso Santo Trafficante, Sr. and his faction in the 1950s. After his death in 1954 from cancer, control passed to his son Santo Trafficante, Jr., who established alliances with families in New York and extended his power throughout Florida and into Batista-era Cuba.

The University of South Florida was established in 1956, sparking development in northern Tampa and nearby Temple Terrace.

With the advent of air conditioning, thousands of new residents have arrived in Tampa from the northern United States. The population continues to grow rapidly, and construction is proceeding rapidly on new housing developments around Tampa.


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