21 Aug 1999

Tampa Metropolitan Area

The Calusa Indians had a settlement on Tampa Bay when the first Europeans arrived in the 1520s. Visiting the region while looking for gold were expeditions led by the Spanish soldier Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528, and the explorer Hernando do Soto in 1539., but the site of present-day Tampa was not settled until 1823 when a plantation was established. Fort Brooke was built the following year to protect the new settlement and encourage others to come. Tampa incorporated as a city in 1855. Ft. Brooke was occupied by the Confederates at the start of the Civil War, but surrendered to Union troops in May 1864.

Tampa Bay experiences more days of thunderstorms each year than any other location in the United States. The frequent thunderstorms gave the city its name: "Tampa" is derived from the Calusa Native-American word meaning :"lightning".

Discovery of phosphates in 1883 (used to make fertilizer) brought growth to the community. In 1884 a railroad reached the city, financed by Henry B. Plant, who also built the Tampa Bay Hotel. Vicente Ybor founded the cigar-making industry in 1886 in the neighborhood northeast of central Tampa and that community soon was renamed Ybor City and became the nation's leading center of cigar manufacturing as thousands labored to roll cigars from Cuban tobaccos. While the district still manufactures some cigars, today it is better known as a lively historic district.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, during the Spanish-American War in 1898, used the city as an embarkation point for Cuba, where they launched the celebrated charge at the Battle of San Juan Hill.

Tampa is on the west coast of Florida, in Hillsborough county; central city of the state's second largest metropolitan area. It is a major industrial center and seaport. Tampa is at the mouth of the Hillsborough River in Tampa Bay, the largest inlet of the Gulf of Mexico on the Florida Peninsula. Tampa is often associated with St. Petersburg, which lies across the bay. Tampa's focus is on industry and business, and its sisster city, a leading tourist spot.

Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area rings Tampa Bay and spreads northward along the Gulf of Mexico.. The metropolitan region includes Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties. In addition to Tampa and St. Petersburg, other towns in the metropolitan area include Clearwater, Largo, and Dunedin.

A sizable community of Greeks, associated with a local sponge-fishing industry, is located in the beach suburb of Tarpon Springs.

A unique enterprise in Hillsborough County is the raising of tropical fish, and the region supplies most of the fish found in the nation's aquariums.

Educational institutions are: University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Tampa College, and a large Community College.

Excerpts from: Article by Peter O. Muller in Encarta Encyclopedia 98

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