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Tampa’s Very Own “Cigar City”

Historic Ybor City

Did you know when you’re in Tampa you can make a trip to Cuba without needing a passport?Conveniently located just northeast of downtown Tampa, Ybor City (pronounced EE-BOR), is home to a genuine piece of Cuban territory – José Martí Park. The park at the corner of 8th Avenue and 13th Street is actually owned by the people of Cuba. For nearly six decades, it was the only piece of Cuban-owned land in the United States until 2015 when the Cuban Embassy opened in Washington, DC.

The park’s namesake, José Martí, was a poet, journalist, and firebrand who led the island’s revolution against Spanish rule in the 1880s and 1890s. Martí lived in exile for many years as he fought for his homeland’s freedom.


During that time he often at time, he often visited Tampa Bay, where thousands of Cuban cigar rollers and Spanish factory owners like Vicente Martinez Ybor – the neighborhood’s founder, provided essential moral and financial support to Martí and his cause. Now considered the Cigar Capital of the World, Ybor City is the only neighborhood on Florida’s West Coast that is designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Its main commercial thoroughfare, 7th Avenue, has also been recognized as one of the “10 Great Streets in America.”

Today, a walk down 7th Avenue is truly a walk through the history. In the 1880s, Ybor City was a melting pot of immigrants from Spain, Cuba, Germany and Italy and home to some of the world’s most famous cigar factories that were the main economic source for the city. At one point, Ybor boasted 200 factories that produced more than 500 million cigars a year, earning the community the nickname “Cigar City.” Since then, many of the factory warehouses have been converted into business lofts, restaurants, shops and more. Ybor City has now evolved into Tampa’s Latin Quarter, offering a full menu of arts, culture, nightclubs and entertainment. Through it all, Cuban torcedores still make hand-rolled cigars in shops along Seventh Avenue as they have since those early days. If you plan to be in the Tampa area any time soon, be sure to visit historic Ybor and take in the sights, smells and culture of this fascinating area. To find out more, go to

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