Vicente Martinez Ybor & Cigar City

 

 

 

 

 

Ignacio Haya

   

___Vicente Martinez Ybor, is likely the most ascribed name locally, with the possible exception of Wills Hill, the british colonial secretary for whom the Hillsborough river and county were named._Hill never set foot here, but Martinez Ybor certainly did. Only Henry B.Plant, perhaps, did more to set Tampa's development in motion.

___Martinez Ybor born in 1818 in Valencia, Spain, Ybor moved to Havana, Cuba at the age of 14 and worked as a grocer's clerk. Within a few years and due to the amount of manufacturers of cigars, he saw a market he was selling cigars. By 1853, he had establish his own cigar factory with a daily production of about 20 thousands cigars. Was then that spurred by the Cuban revolution he decided to re-located to Key West in 1869. Three years later, his son Edward R.M. Ybor and former Havana associate Eduardo Manrara joined Ybor's business. For more than a decade business grew once again. Eventually, fires and labor strikes motivated Ybor and other manufacturers to relocated again, this time the city of choice was Galverston, Texas.

___In 1885, the Tampa Board of Trade, eager to establish a major industry in fledgling Tampa, wooed Ybor and his friendly competitor, Ignacio Haya. The following year Ybor and Haya opened Tampa's first cigar factories and Ybor City or "Cigar City" was established. Soon after, Ybor, his son and Manrara established the Ybor City Land & Improvement Company.

___The industry grew very quickly, and in 1892 Scottish layer Hugh Mac Farlane followed Ybor's cue and offered cigar makers free land and building a few miles northwest of Tampa.

___By 1895, the City of West Tampa was incorporated and by the turn of the century there were as many as 200 cigar factories in production giving Tampa worldwide recognition and the distinction as "Cigar City". Ybor had 10 children by two wives, including four from his first wife, who died in 1862. The father of the city that never was a city, died in 1896 at age 78 years.

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Source: - Tampa Bay History Center & Cigar History Collections 1970-USF Archives

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07.23.12