August 21, 2012

American Latino Heritage Fund Roadtrip- Ybor City

Day 6 of the American Latino Heritage Fund Roadtrip and Babushka's visiting Ybor City.  Now part of modern day Tampa Florida, Ybor City has so many fascinating stories that a 2 hour walking tour just started my curiosity. I never imagined the importance this quaint locale had in our nations history.  Imaginate, I could have kept asking  questions even though the sol was already out- so you know BB was captivated!

  And here's the man in the know- 

Dr. Wallace Reyes, Historian and Master Cigar Maker

Now let's start listening to some of his know- Introduction into Ybor City's History.


The main industry in Ybor city was the cigar.  Here the four nationalities came together to produce first class quality that was world renowned, but it was not just the quality of the cigar that was exemplary. The business practices and social organizations in Ybor City were ahead of their time in the US and the pride of being here was handed down to each generation. Dr. Reyes illustrates this point in this video where he explains a typical workday for a cigar artisan.

In a city where Spaniards, Cubans, Italian and Germans all resided together you know there had to be good food.  Queee?? You thought I'd go to a Cuban town and not talk about food?  JU SO FONII!! As a matter of fact, on my youtube channel you'll see Dr. Reyes explain the history of the Ferlita Bakery -current housing of the museum. Naturally this brings to BB's mind the current debate about the real Cuban Sandwich.  Sorry Miami, the ORIGINAL sandwich was called "The Brick" and then renamed "Cuban" sandwich because it became the main lunch item for Cuban cigar artisans.

Home of the ORIGINAL Cuban Sandwich

 As a matter of fact, thanks to the Italian influence in Ybor City, there were Italian meatcuts in the sandwich. A sandwich invented because the factory owners noticed that artisans would be slower after a typical Cuban lunch.  In that, time has not changed.  Heje  Siesta- a tradition BB is proud to continue.  

 ; ) 

And yes, another part of tradition I continue, loving my Latino roots, however I have never visited Cuba- until now. When I said Ybor City was a Cuban town I was not kidding. The Jose Marti Park located in Ybor City is governed by the same laws as embassies; it is still owned by the Cuban government and currently protected by the United States of America.


Check out the full story on BB's Feibu Video page  
and while you're there check out the many pics I posted on Ybor

BBP (Babushka Bullet Points) of Ybor City

* Thanks to the foresight of Vicente Martinez-Ybor and Eduardo Manrara, an industrial and cultural powerhouse arose out of the Florida swamps.  
*Ybor city revolutionized the Southeast United States, was second only to New York City in the artistic and theatrical events of the day, and brought together four distinct cultures in creating a community dedicated to cigars and their distribution.  '
*The collaboration resulted in a world wide reputation for superior cigars- so much so that each of the major cigarmaking houses were the exclusive suppliers for different royals throughout Europe.
* Was the home to advanced thinkers in the area of industrialization and business practices
* At the peak year, 1929, half a million cigars were rolled in Ybor City
*DEFINITELY take the Ybor City Historic Walking Tour. Make reservations con tiempo and a recorder- sooo wish I had done the latter.

Will I be going back to visit Ybor City? 

Let's see... Dr. Reyes just skimmed the surface of the city's history.

I didn't get to try the Ybor City/Tampa Cuban Sandwich in the famous, open since 1905, 
oldest US restaurant, the Colombia  Restaurant

And as if that wasn't enough, there's a memory that will always be haunting and calling me...
Continuing the tradition-
the duo of decadence

Ybor City-have the bread & the cafecito hot,  que pa'ya voy!

Babushka Besos a todos.  Cuidensen.

P.S.  Thanks to Dr. Wallace Reyes, a man of much knowledge and many talents.  
His cigar company:  
His world record breaking cigar:
See his thoughts on the Latino Heritage in Ybor City and its' effects on the nation-

P.P.S. The National Park Service has an interesting lesson plan about Ybor City- captures the history and feel of the place nicely.

P.P.P.S.  Thanks again to the sponsors of this roadtrip- without them there would have been no trip and I couldn't have expressed myself.  Now, de verdad, how boring would that have been?? Gracias.

Bohemian Babushka
Bohemian Babushka

Groovy Spanglish speaking Grandma of 6 who loves life and all its adventures. Motivational while still keeping it real, Babushka shows how all things looked at with gratitude are good, and how to say to la vida- JU SO FONII!!!