TAMPA, Fla. — Fortune Taylor, a Black woman, was responsible for connecting East and West Tampa in the late 1800s.
“Fortune Taylor was an African American woman who owned 33 acres of land in downtown Tampa in the late 1880s after reconstruction," Fred Hearns, Historian at Tampa Bay History Center said. “When West Tampa began developing as a place where cigar manufacturers wanted to build their factories and hire workers, they needed a bridge to get from downtown Tampa to West Tampa, back and forth."
"As it so happened, Hugh MacFarlane, for whom we have a park in West Tampa named, negotiated a deal with Fortune Taylor so that the first bridge that connected West Tampa to downtown connected to her land on the east side of the river and to the land on the west side, leading directly to Main Street and that was where Main Street began developing as a major artery leading into West Tampa.”
“And so, Fortune Taylor who owned that land had the honor of having the bridge named for her: the Fortune Taylor Bridge. Many years later, when the interstate came through in the 1960s, the name of the bridge was changed to Laurel Street Bridge because it connected to Laurel Street, but a few years ago, the Tampa City Council changed the name of the bridge back to its original name and so today, once again, it’s the Fortune Taylor Bridge.”
Fortune Taylor died in 1906.