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Ybor City Walking Tours Explore the Historic Streets of Ybor City on a Walking Tour Back in Time

New walking tour explores century-old Ybor, a city built by dreamers and schemers

Ybor City Historic Walking Tours, Tampa, FL

By Mary Lou Janson (

Think Ybor City is all about bars and cigars? Let Lonnie Herman be your guide as he describes more than a century of change that has shaped this multi-cultural, multi-dimensional community.

Herman has a knack for knowing how to tell a tale and Ybor has no lack of colorful characters who have inhabited its sometimes shady past.

What began as a swamp later swelled into a robust, thriving community that attracted immigrants from around the world who came to settle into its casitas and work in its world-famous cigar industry.

When the cigar industry succumbed to mechanization, the rising popularity of cigarettes and recessionary times, the area began to change eventually becoming a haven for artists who felt at home in the former cigar factories that offered large, light filled spaces to work.

New residential developments, professional offices, restaurants and retail space and even a community college now populate this historic district that transforms into a popular nightclub hub after dark.

Herman provides a thoughtful, insightful narration about the dreamers and schemers who helped create Ybor City from its visionary founder Vicente Martinez Ybor to Cesar Gonzmart whose family is behind the dining dynasty known as the Columbia Resaurant to Patrick Manteiga, whose father founded La Gaceta, the nation’s only tri-lingual newspaper printed in English, Spanish and Italian to those who ran a game of chance known as bolita or oversaw the bordellos known to operate there.

Ybor City Historic Walking Tours depart weekdays, or by appointment, in front of the Vicente Martinez-Ybor statue at Centro Ybor.

“Ybor has had a lot of different lives,” Herman said.  “People come here for food or entertainment and have no idea they are in the midst of so much history.  When people understand what has happened in Ybor throughout the years, they have a better feel for it and more respect for it.”

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