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A community celebrates 200th birthday of the founder of Ybor City

Founder's great grandson recalls childhood visits
Posted at 9:03 PM, Sep 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-07 23:20:11-04

YBOR, Fla. — Ybor City Museum Society and Ybor City Museum State Park celebrated the 200th birthday of Vicente Martinez-Ybor on Friday.

Vicente Martinez-Ybor founded the iconic city more than 100 years ago. His great-grandson, Rafael Martinez-Ybor, recalled weekly trips to the historic neighborhood.

"Just coming to Ybor city on Sunday with my grandfather. They would take me to this place...Ybor City ice cream parlor. They had all kinds of ice cream," said Martinez-Ybor.

Vicente Martinez Ybor arrived in Tampa and began construction of the first cigar factory. Construction began in 1886 on factories and homes for workers. By March of that year, the first factory opened its doors. It brought opportunity from all over the world.

"He bought about 40 acres right here in Ybor City and he told all the cigar makers to come here and basically he ended up building infrastructure for his town now called Ybor City," said Chantal Hevia, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ybor City Museum Society.

The growth of Tampa's population was credited to the cigar industry. The founder's great-grandson said he's excited about Ybor's future and new growth like the Rays stadium moving to Ybor.

"I think it's going to be great when or if it comes in the area. It will help the area a lot, retailers, and certainly build up Ybor more," said Martinez-Ybor.

Others hope the city continues to make history.

"People are still excited about what we have here," said Hevia.