Tampa the town.... 1847 to 1885



Tampa 1882




Road 1880's




South Florida Line





Railroad 1882







Tampa the town…1847 - 1885

__The plat for the town of Tampa was recorded on January 9, 1847, with many familiar street names such as Franklin , for Benjamin Franklin, Ashley, for a “long-time” Tampa resident, William Ashley. The town was laid out in one acre squares west of Tampa Street , the main thoroughfare, but according to local legend, a chain was used to measure. The town quickly decided it needed a courthouse, so it contracted with Captain James McKay to built one for $ 1,358.00. The money for the courthouse was obtained by selling off blocks and parcels of the newly platted town for the price of $10 to $ 83 dollars each; but technically the Army owned all the land. A deal was struck and the courthouse was built.

__All in all, Tampa in the early 1848 seemed to have everything going for it; even a jail and a public school. In September 23, 1848, a hurricane hit the town, along the Hillsborough River and simply everything was erased; Fort Brooke itself suffered tremendous damage.

__Ironically, that devastation provided the roots and courage of both Tampa 's first boom and its cosmopolitan nature. To help re-built the town laborers came from Greeks, Spaniards and Italian. Most of them spoke Spanish, and after the building was completed, some 110 Italians elected to stay in Tampa . By 1849, the population of the area had soared to 185 citizens. The town created a business district within a year, with nine general stores, as well as a bakery, a barber shop, four blacksmith shops, three butcher shops, a stationary store, a cobber, a print shop, two churches, two hotels, several doctors, three attorneys and a gunsmith.

__In 1855, the city decided it needed a charted and all the mixed blessings of a full government. The next year (1856), Tampa elected its first mayor, Judge Joseph B. Lancaster. He served a few months, he died later that year and the postmaster Alfonso DeLaunay took over the position. The government was simple in nature, and the mayor was elected on an annual basis. He served as a judge in civil court. He was assisted by the following officials; clerk, marshal and five men in the town council. At the time the town grew to 1,000 residents; and a stagecoach linked the town to Gainesville , where connections could be made for Jacksonville , St. Augustine , Tallahassee and points north. The town even had its own newspaper, the Tampa Herald, founded in 1853. The new town government begins seriously worrying about the rumors of another war from the north; it was called the Third Seminole War, and years later the Civil War. The town found itself in a stalled position, and with the end of the war came the dreaded disease, yellow fever, in 1867 and in 1871; the business district reduced to a minimum. In 1877 Fort Brooke was decommission and the land was sold (148 acres) to those who wished to file homestead claim. Large tracks of land were sold for $10 dollars an acre and some lot at the corner for $25.00. The frame houses with large yards and sides protected by picket fences were supplied with water by wells, barrels or cisterns and sanitary needs served by outhouses located near the stables in the rear of the lot.

__By 1880 the railroad was getting closer thanks to Henry Bradley Plant, triggering the birth of modern Tampa in the fading years of the 19th century. Plant acquired the rights of the Jacksonville , Tampa and Key West Railroad. The South Florida Line began in Tampa , rails and locomotives brought by sea from Cedar Key. Finally the first train moved on the tracks from Tampa to Plant City on December 10, 1883, and service to more distant points on February 13, 1884. The first train station was in a converted home on the river banks by Twiggs and Zack Streets. On May 7 th., 1885 the Board of Trade was created, with the main goal of convince Mr. Vicente Martinez Ybor to locate his cigar business in Ybor City , which happened later that year…


History Collection

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Researcher: W. Reyes, Ph.D.


Last update: 07-01-2018