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Then & Now with Hampton Dunn

Usually when the subject of cigar factories humming in the Tampa area comes up, one thinks of Ybor City. But the fact is, West Tampa on the other side of town also was significant. The large building seen on the right of this antique postcard was one of the big factories and is still standing. The tracks have been replaced by Spruce Street, and the cross street is Howard Avenue. The yellow building is gone, but the row of "shotgun" homes behind it is still there. The view card was postmarked from Tampa on Nov. 10, 1910.

The community of West Tampa was a separate municipality, a city that was conceived, flourished and grew, and passed out of existence in 29 years. The town of West Tampa was incorporated May 18, 1895, with the first mayor being Fernando Figueredo, who for a number of years had been treasurer for the island of Cuba. It was annexed to the city of Tampa _ then known as "The Cigar City" _ on Jan. 1, 1925. When annexation was first proposed, according to professor E.

L. Robinson, local historian, "West Tampans spoke excitedly about "the octopus,' which would soon swallow the little city on the west bank of the Hillsborough River." But, Robinson wrote in 1928, "Now they are loyal Tampans."

The historian credits prominent Tampa lawyer Col. Howard C. Macfarlane as the daddy of West Tampa. He owned 200 acres there and offered free factory sites to manufacturers who would operate on his lands and employ a stipulated number of employees. The donation offer was successful; soon factories sprang up all over town.

Col. Macfarlane also donated 40 acres for a city park, still known today as Macfarlane Park. He and associates in 1897 completed the Fortune Street bridge across the river.

Hampton Dunn is a journalist, author, lecturer and, perhaps, Florida's best-known historian. The Tampa resident has spent much of his life chronicling the state and has written 18 books on such places as Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Citrus County.

The postcard, postmarked in November 1910, shows West Tampa, a municipality from 1895 to 1925. The large building at the right of the postcard was a cigar factory and is still standing. The cross street is Howard Avenue and the tracks have been replaced by Spruce Street, shown in the photo below, looking east.

Postcard courtesy of the