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Three Tampa landmarks up for national historic status

The Kennedy Boulevard Bridge is being considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
The Kennedy Boulevard Bridge is being considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. LUIS SANTANA | Times
Published Jun. 11, 2017

Three Tampa landmarks could soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places: The Oaklawn Cemetery near downtown, the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge and the Columbus Drive Bridge. The National Parks Service is expected to consider state recommendations to add the cemetery and Columbus bridge to the registry in the next several months. The state's review board could consider the Kennedy bridge recommendation at its next meeting on Aug. 10.

"When you have these historic resources and they're recognized at both the state and the national level for being significant, it calls attention to your local history," says Dennis Fernandez, Tampa's manager of historic preservation. That, in turn, supports preserving those landmarks "so future generations can look back and understand what was going on during periods of our own history."

— Richard Danielson, Times staff writer

Oaklawn Cemetery

Founded: 1850

Stats: Three acres at 606 E Harrison St. near downtown Tampa. The application includes the neighboring St. Louis Cemetery. 1,561 graves including 13 mayors, one governor, two Florida Supreme Court justices, plus slaves, Confederate soldiers, yellow fever victims and Cuban pirates.

Neat fact: It was Tampa's first public graveyard and was unusually open to all. "White or black, rich or poor, everybody was in there," Fernandez said.

Columbus Drive Bridge

Built: 1926-27 at a cost of $429,000

Stats: Extends 470 feet across the Hillsborough River.

Neat fact: Originally known as the Michigan Avenue Bridge, it first was configured to support a single streetcar line flanked by lanes for cars and trucks. The city, streetcar company and developers teamed up to pay for the bridge, which they thought would spur development in West Tampa.

Kennedy Boulevard Bridge

Built: 1913 (two earlier bridges built at the same site in 1889 and 1896)

Stats: It's 70 feet across at the center span, which makes its sidewalks wide enough to be easily walkable.

Neat fact: Its original name was the Lafayette Street Bridge, built to connect Tampa to Henry B. Plant's Tampa Bay Hotel (now Plant Hall at the University of Tampa), and it's the oldest road bridge across the Hillsborough River.

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