Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why Tampa?

So many ask...why Tampa, why do you stay? what is it about Tampa?

Well in short, the Water, the Weather, the Progress, the Activities, the History, the People.

Water - everywhere, most of Tampa is situated on a Peninsula(called Interbay Peninsula), so there is water to the east(Hillsborough Bay) water to the West(Old Tampa Bay), and the South(Tampa Bay). The Main river through Tampa is the Hillsborough River which starts as a Spring 30 miles to the North, and runs through the city ending up in the Hillsborough Bay downtown. 20 miles to the West of Tampa is the pristine aqua blue water and beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout Tampa Bay area are numerous lakes, rivers, streams, estuary's, bays, intracostal waterways to explore. Plain and simple, if you like fresh water, salt water, streams, rivers, oceans, Tampa's got it! In addition 5 of the nations number one beaches are located in the Bay area(Fort DeSoto, Pass-a-Grille, Clearwater, Caledesi Island, Honeymoon Island).

Weather - with an average high temperature of 76 degrees from October to May, how could you not love the weather. While others are huddled up for the winter to the North, we are basking in low humidity, beautiful blue skies, and pleasant temperatures for 75% of the year. This means all outdoor activities, sports, festivals can be enjoyed year round in Tampa. And in the summer months, June through September, although it can get very warm, the average high temps are only 88 degrees, there is a constant breeze due to the coastal winds which trigger mighty Thunderstorms in summer late afternoons/evenings, in time to cool it off a bit, and provide a lightning and thunderous show like clock work most evenings. Since most of us have a pool, beach, and airconditioning nearby, we can handle 3 to 4 months of warmer than usual temps for paradise the the other 9 months of the year.

History - the Bay area has been home to several Indian Tribes for thousands of years. The Spanish came in the 15 and 16oo's, but the American's did not start to evaluate Florida and the Tampa area until the mid 1800's. We built Fort Brooke in what is now downtown Tampa during the Seminole Indian Wars, and later used it for soldiers being shipped off for the Spanish-American War. Vicente Martinez Ybor purchased 40 acres of land just east of downtown to start his Cigar Factories. Within 10 years and by the late 1800's until the depression in the 1920's, Tampa was known throughout the world as the Cigar Capital of the World. Immigrants came to Tampa from Italy, Spain, and Cuba to prosper in the Cigar Capital. Henry B Plant chose Tampa to expand his railroad from the North, and that led to many tourists to flock to the warm temperatures, and an increase in Trade. Many of the established neighborhoods from the early 20th century still exist(Hyde Park, Tampa Heights, West Tampa, Seminole Heights, Ybor City), and have numerous architectural buildings, homes, and landscapes.

Progress - from the 1950's to present, Tampa has been growing by leaps and bounds. Many from the North came here to escape the brutal winters, and the ability to attain land and homes for far less than it would cost in the North. In addition, Tampa Bay's cost of living was considerably less, and there were far fewer taxes. Most transplants came from the MidWest(Ohio, Michigan, Illinios, Indiana), with the remainder coming from the Northeast(New York, Connecticutt, New Jersey). Things have changed quite a bit over the past 10 years(the 90's to present). The growth has been abundant, and the Tampa Bay area now has close to 2 million residents, with the city of Tampa having nearly 360,000. A Financial District was created in the 60's and 70's(current downtown), a Services Sector, Westshore Business District, which is now the largest business and services sector in the state, and 5th largest in the Nation. A National Historic Landmark area, Ybor City. Tampa Bay is now the 12th largest media market in the Nation. In the 19 years I have called Tampa home, I have seen more skyscapers built downtown, a national hockey team(Tampa Bay Lightning - Stanley Cup Champions) and Forum built, a professional baseball team(Tampa Bay Devil Rays) and Dome arena established, new Football stadium built for the SuperBowl champion Tampa Bay Bucaneers. Downtown continues to expand its Arts Museums, Cultural Exhibits, and Parks and trails to accommodate the growth. One of the nations largest Aquariums was established in Tampa(Florida Aquarium). Two lane roads transversed into 4 lane highways. And progress just doesn't stop. It nice to live in an area where things change, and most of the progress and changes are for the better and for the people of the city.

Activities - For a small city, Tampa has it all. And its nice to have it all in a small city.
Sports - Football, Baseball, Hockey, Arena Football, College Football, Soccer, Baseball and Basketball - all National teams, nationally recognized, and state of the art arenas and fields to play on.
Theater - Tampa Bay Perforing Arts Center is then largest Center for the arts in the Southeast, along with over a dozen other venues for broadway and local productions(Mahaffey, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Gorilla Theater, many more).
Museums - Dali, Fine Art, Art, Childrens, Holocaust, History, Natural, Fire, Police, Science and Industry, Explorations, International.
Concerts - every major concert act alsways makes a stop through Tampa performing at numerous venues(Forum, Bayfront Arena, Amphitheter, Tampa Stadium, USF Sundome, among the other theaters listed above)
Festivals -ahhh, the numerous festivals year round, some of the biggest in the Nation, and lots of people watching, and of course food and BEER!(Gasparilla - month long celebration, Florida State Fair, Strawberry Festival, International and Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Guavaween, numerous Art Festivals including the Gasparilla and Mainsail). Most of the smaller communities and neighborhoods have monthly festivals like CLearwater Jazz Fest, Hyde Park Music Series, St. Pete's RibFest, John's Pass Seafood Festival, St. Pete's Festival of States.
Attractions - people come from all over the world to visit the area. It's nice to have these in my backyard - Busch Gardens theme park, Adventure Island water park, Lowry Park Zoo, Florida Aquarium, St. Pete Pier, Big Cat Rescue, Suncoast Bird Sanctuary to name a few.
Recreation - what do you want to do today? Well you can do most everything here in Tampa. Biking Trails(on and off road), Kayaking/Canoeing, Wind Surfing, Fishing, Boating, Sunbathing, Skating, Hiking. There is a park almost every few miles throughout the city for the purpose of getting out and keeping active.
Shopping - well, some people consider this an activity, and for those that like it, any name brand store can be found in Tampa, whether its exclusive(International Plaza), outdoors(Hyde park Village, Centro Ybor, BayWalk), Entertaining(BayStreet, Westshore Plaza) or Outlet(Ellenton), its here..from Funky(Ybor City) to mondane(University Square), it's here.
Nightlife - as if the above isn't enough, its great to know that there are many entertainment options. Ybor City is Tampa's French Quarter like area with a bar, club and entertainment venue for anyone. Channelside, SOHO, Hyde Park, Westshore, BayStreet. Downtown St. Pete holds it's own for numerous nightlife options, Central Ave and the waterfront bars and clubs. As far as restaurants, Tampa is known as one of the Nations busiest places to eat our, because so many of us eat out, and this is because there are so many places and options to eat. Its no wonder places like Hooters, Outback, Bonefish Grille, Hops all started here in Tampa. But its more than just the chains, some of my favs are : Berns and Charley's for steaks, Yoko's and Samarai Blue for Sushi, Cappy's and Ed&Sams for Pizza, Royal Palace for Thai, Kojaks and Jimbo's for BBQ, Oystercatchers for seafood, Bernini and Laughing Cat for Italian, Acropolis for Greek.

One thing about Tampa, is it's not a Big Deal. What I mean is, it's not a big deal to do any of the above. Whether it's a sports game, day at the beach, trip to a museum or park, or going out for dinner, it's not a big deal as opposed to going out in a big city. You gotta love havin it all in a small city. And I love to travel to the bigger cities around the country(NY, Chicago, Boston, LA), so having a World Class, convenient airport with numerous non-stop, inexpensive flights to most major cities is another plus!!

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