Founded in 1885, Tampa's Ybor City became the center of cigar making in North America. At one time there were 230 cigar factories employing 12,000 cigar makers and producing 700 million cigars a year. One of only three Historic Landmark Districts in Florida, Ybor City's history is also rich with stories of immigration, organized crime, revolution, Teddy Roosevelt, and Jose Marti, the leader of Cuban Independence.
Two companies provide interesting walking tours of Ybor City. Ybor Walking Tours (www.yborwalkingtours.com) gives 90-minute tours on the brick streets of La Setima Avenida (Seventh Avenue), the Broadway of Ybor. The tour explores the many layers of history that make up the fabric of Ybor City. For a slightly different take, enjoy the Ybor Ghost Tour (www.yborghosttour.com). Expert storytellers convey personal tales of the people who lived, worked, gambled, fought, and died in Ybor City. Experienced in the paranormal, the guides are always on the lookout for other "storytellers" emerging from the past.