Tampa Cigar History
Tampa has a long and rich association with the cigar, going back over two centuries. Nowadays, this heritage and how it shaped the culture of the area is still extremely prevalent in many facets of the community. Let’s take a look back at the humble beginnings of the cigar in Tampa to see how.
The Beginning of ‘Cigar City’
Tampa has a unique history that started with Native American tribes countless centuries ago, but it began to be shaped into the ‘Cigar City’ of today we know and love in 1885. Thanks to the building of a railroad which provided transport and trade links, Vincente Martinez Ybor decided Tampa was the perfect place to relocate his cigar manufacturing process to. It also provided the ideal climatic conditions that would, and still does, ensure the tobaccos integrity. Tampa at this time was still a small community of less than 5000 people – this was soon to change.
A Celebrated Cultural Community
With the influx of business into the area many houses were built around the cigar factories; mainly being lived in by workers of Cuban and Spanish descent. As the town grew so did the variety of cultures, with many different ethnicities of people seeking work in the growing number of cigar factories. By the turn of the 20th century, more than ten thousand immigrants had learned to call Tampa home and their influence still permeates the area today, making the area rich in nightlife, food and culture. It is thanks to these people that the economy of the area began to grow, with Tampa being recognized as the Cigar Capital of the World. Between the two main areas; Ybor City and West Tampa, there were over 225 factories creating thousands upon thousands of hand-rolled cigars that were smoked by people all over the globe.
The Great Depression and Moving Forward
At the height of the cigars popularity over 500,000,000 cigars were hand-rolled annually, however in the Great Depression cigarettes become a cheaper alternative. Unfortunately this meant many of the original factories were abandoned. That doesn’t mean that Tampa became stagnant; it continued to grow and welcome enterprising individuals from all backgrounds. It is also still recognized and respected as the hub of cigar-making in the states, with several reputable organizations intent on continuing Tampa’s rich tradition and still producing some of the best hand-rolled cigars money can buy.