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Vicente Martinez-Ybor, was a Spanish entrepreneur who first became a historical industrialist and cigar manufacturer in Cuba, then Key West, and finally Tampa, Florida. Martinez-Ybor is best known for his founding the immigrant-populated cigar manufacturing town of Ybor City just outside Tampa, Florida in 1885. Ybor exhorted his cigar workers to challenge Spain in the late 1800's . Martinez was also known as the George Washington of Cuba and really formed what Ybor City is today. If you go to Ybor city today you can see how the culture from that one event still thrives there today.

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The city of Ybor started out as 40 acres of swamp in Tampa, Florida. Don Gavino Gutiérrez a Spanish engineer from New York, came looking for guavas, in hopes to create a tropical fruit preservation plant. After eventually abandoning the project he decided to visit friends in Key West which were Don Vicente Martínez Ybor and Don Ignacio Haya, who were Cuban exiles. Ybor was having major work problems and was now looking into relocating his cigar business. After Gutiérrez introduced them to the Tampa Bay Area, they were able to relocate their business. Meanwhile discovering that Tampa wasn't just the perfect place to relocate for their tobacco leaf but the city also had a warm climate, railroads, and a port.

However, there were also challenges, they battled natural problems like alligators, mosquitoes, and rainy and unsanitary conditions. A yellow fever epidemic came along with the Cuban imported fruit coming through Tampa and the water was almost undrinkable, to the point where they were forced to carry buckets of water from the Old Government Spring in order to have sanitary water.

Vincent Martinez Ybor founded his own small cigar company in Havana, Cuba and began selling his El Principe de Gales brand. The brand became popular almost overnight, and his factory was producing almost 20,000 cigars a day. The City of Ybor was discovered in 1885 by Vincent Martinez Ybor himself, which explains the name of the city. In 1868, to avoid the ongoing conflict in Cuba's fight for independence from Spain, in turn Ybor eventually moved to Florida in search for a new place for his business. He initially moved to Key West, but also faced obstacles when he arrived there as well and that's when he made the decision to move to an area just outside of Tampa in the late 1800's.

Because of Martinez Ybor Tampa was quickly becoming famous for its cigars, which was once known as the “Cigar Capital of the World.” Unfortunately the coming of the great depression in the 1930's crushed the demand for cigars and didn't come back until the 1950's and by that time Ybor's success had faded away too, which cost the city a lot. The City of Ybor became abandoned and fell into a period of neglect and decay. Today Ybor City is actually one of the most dangerous places in Tampa, its become a popular location for Tampa's nightlife event and club life. Due to this more than 3000 crime incidents happen every year just in that one city, this includes robbery, assault, violent crime, and burglary.

Ybor city Historic District---American LATINO heritage: A discover our shared Heritage travel itinerary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 05, 2021, from

The site provided specific information about the history of Ybor City itself. Information dates back from 1805 when Ybor Martinez first arrived in down town Tampa. Ybor City was an urban slum by the mid 20th century, but heritage preservation and economic development efforts in the 1980s revitalized the historic "City within a city". An urban renewal project started in the 1960's, which demolished a large part of Ybor City, which sparked a local movement to preserve the cities unique history and culture which led to the preservation of important buildings.

“Vicente Martinez Ybor.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Jan. 2021, 

This website provides a variety of information about Martinez Ybor and his life. This website covers a multitude of facts on all parts of his life. It touches facts about his personal life, death and legacy, and his ultimate rise from Cuba to Downtown Tampa.

Tyler J. Santana and the Tampa Historical Team. “Vicente Martinez Ybor - Titan of Industry, Father of a City.” Tampa Historical, 

The website provides a brief history of Martinez Ybor and his escape from the Spanish government and Cuba, Vincent Ybor fled to Key West. After a long rise from a small city in Cuba to then revolutionizing the once small city of Tampa. Vincente Martinez Ybor Passed away on December 14, 1896 at the age of 78, his legacy forever preserved within the streets and buildings that are still there today.

“Vicente Martinez-Ybor.” Florida State Parks, 

The site provides information about how Ybor Martinez impacted not just the history of the City but the people who lived there and immigrated to Tampa with him. During the late 1800s there was an surge of immigrants moving to the area in search of work. Ybor saw this as an opportunity to employ his factory and was known for treating all his employees with respect and made sure they also had a quality of life as well.

Administrator, YCDC. “Vicente Martinez-Ybor and the Butterfly Effect That Created Ybor City.” Ybor City, Ybor City Development Corporation, 4 Sept. 2018, 

The website Creative Loafing of Tampa Bay is an informal site that includes detailed descriptions of how Ybor's influence has brought culture that still thrives there today. Without Ybor we probably we wouldn't have the large amount of Cuban culture located in that area, strangely enough we probably wouldn't have Cuban sandwiches or cigar tariffs.