|Tampa Bay Florida Overview
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Tampa is a major United States city in Hillsborough County, on the west coast of Florida. It serves as the county seat of Hillsborough County.. The population within the city limits in 2005, according to the Census was 326,519; it is the third-largest city in Florida, behind Jacksonville and Miami.
Tampa is a part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area, most commonly referred to as the "Tampa Bay area". The four-county area is composed of roughly 2.7 million residents, making it the second largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the state behind Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, the third largest in the Southeastern United States, and the twelfth largest DMA Market in the United States.
The word "Tampa" is a Native American 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". "Sticks of fire" may also relate to the high concentration of lightning strikes that Tampa Bay receives every year during the hot and wet summer months. The name first appears in the "Memoir" of Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda (1575), the author of which had
spent 17 years as a Calusa captive. He calls it "Tanpa" and describes it as an important Calusa town. While "Tanpa" is the apparent basis for the modern name "Tampa", archaeologist Jerald Milanich places the Calusa village of Tanpa at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, the original "Bay of Tanpa". Later Spanish explorers, having failed to locate Charlotte Harbor, assumed that the large bay they did find was the Bay of Tanpa, and the name stuck with the current Tampa Bay.
Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez was the first European known to have visited the Tampa area, on April 8, 1528. Hernando de Soto arrived a year later to rescue the only remaining living member of de Narváez'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 Gadsden. 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, which was decommissioned in
1883. Except for two cannons now on the University of Tampa campus, all traces of the fort are gone.
Tampa was incorporated on January 18, 1849 with 185 inhabitants (excluding military personnel stationed at Fort Brooke). The city's first census came in 1850 when Tampa-Fort Brooke accounted for 974 residents. Tampa was reincorporated as a town on December 15, 1855, 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 Bone Valley region near Tampa 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 (the majority coming from Alessandria Della Rocca and Santo Stefano Quisquina, two small Sicilian towns which Tampa maintains strong ties with) and Cuban immigrants came to Tampa to work at the factories.
Henry B. Plant built a lavish luxury hotel called the Tampa Bay Hotel in the city in 1883, which became the foundation of the University of Tampa when it was established in 1933 becoming Tampa's first institute of higher learning.
The Beasley family (of Palma Ceia) has roots here dating back to at least the 1820s, according to courthouse documents. There are even a few streets in Old Tampa that bear the Beasley name, as well as one neighborhood. A descendant, W. Mack Beasley is an accomplished painter (oils and acrylics), sculptor and professional hotrod builder in Tampa and resides in the area now known as Virginia Park.
Tampa was an embarkation center for American troops during the Spanish-American War. Lieutenant Colonel 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 yearly Gasparilla Pirate Festival. Before it was incorporated two category 4 hurricanes hit Fort Brooke nearly destroying the whole Fort and town. In 1921 a category 4 hit Tampa.
Illegal 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, 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.
The biggest development of the city was the development of New Tampa that started in 1988 when the city annexed a 24-square mile (mostly rural) area between I-275 and I-75. Today, the district boasts over 22,000 inhabitants.
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.
Weather and climate
Tampa's climate is subtropical, with a threat of frost about once every 2-3 years. Highs usually stay between 65 and 95F (18 and 35C) year round, and lows rarely go below 32 F (0 C). These seldom freezes are an enormous threat to area agriculture and aquaculture. Likewise, summer temperatures are predictable, and have never risen above 100 F (38 C). The all-time record high temperature in downtown was 99 F (37 C), recorded on June 5, 1985. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Tampa was 18 F (-7.8 C) in 1962. Fog can also be an occasional problem in the winter and spring. Temperatures are hot from May through October, which coincides with the rainy
season. These summer days have highs around 90 F (32 C) and high humidity. The summer nighttime temperature drops to only around 75 F (23 C). Other times of the year, the temperatures are moderate and sunshine is abundant.
Thunderstorms are a major concern on summer afternoons. High winds, small hail, and torrential rain often accompany these common afternoon thunderstorms which can be severe. Tornadoes are not unheard of. These storms often move out over the Gulf of Mexico at night, where they are easily seen from land as spectacular light shows. Tampa has a pronounced wet season, averaging 20.6 inches (524 mm) between July and September, but only 6.2 inches (157 mm) between November and January. The wettest month is August, which averages 7.6 inches (193 mm); November is the driest month, averaging only 1.6 inches (41 mm). Yearly precipitation averages 44.8 inches (1137
Another major concern for Tampa is the Atlantic hurricane season which runs from June 1st to November 30th and peaks in September. Tampa feels the effects of tropical systems, on average, every two to three years, but the city has not had a direct hit by a hurricane since the 1930s. If a category four or five hit the area, Tampa would see a storm surge of 25-30 ft. This surge, coupled with the fact that most of the downtown area is within five feet of sea level, means that Tampa would see greater destruction than Hurricane Andrew. Tampa also is popularly known as the "Lightning Capital of the United States", (Rwanda maintains the World title) due
in part to the frequent, dangerous and (on rare occasions) deadly lightning strikes.