Tampa City Guide
Situated on the northern shore of Tampa Bay at the mouth of the Hillsborough River, Tampa serves as the seat of Hillsborough County in Florida. The city actually began as a Seminole reservation, established in 1823 after possession of Florida passed from Spain to the U.S. Fearing an uprising from the Seminoles, the military constructed Fort Brooke and stationed four companies of infantry in the area. Despite the ongoing conflict with the Seminole natives, a small community gradually grew around the relative safety of the fort. The tiny village grew into a town, and was officially incorporated as such in 1855.
Confederate troops occupied Fort Brooke during the Civil War, but the fort and the city fell to the Union in 1864. Tampa was devastated by the war and underwent a decline over the next 20 years. The discovery of phosphate in the Bone Valley region in 1883 started the town on its road to recovery. Railroad magnate Henry B. Plant, jealous of the success his rival Henry Morrison Flagler had achieved in Miami, extended his South Florida Railroad to Tampa and built an even more opulent resort, the Tampa Bay Hotel (where Teddy Roosevelt trained his Rough Riders for the Spanish-American War). The arrival of the railroad put an end to Tampa's isolation and gave a significant boost to the town's commercial fishing industry. Tampa's legacy as "Cigar City" was secured in 1885, when the Tampa Board of Trade convinced Vincente M. Ybor to relocate his Key West cigar factory and workers in Tampa.