Tampa’s Streetcar System

Tampa StreetcarTampa’s first streetcar system began in 1885, when the Tampa Street Railway Company ran a wood-burning engine with several small cars over a track from downtown Tampa to the neighboring town of Ybor City. The creation of this early transit line helped further Tampa’s rapid growth and development that took place at the end of the nineteenth century.

Tampa’s streetcar line soon became electrified, thanks to Frank Sprague of Richmond, Virginia, who developed a four-wheeled “troller” that ran along an overhead wire and transmitted electricity to streetcars. This new power source opened the door for private electric companies to enter into the transportation business. In 1892, the Tampa Street Railway Company merged with the Florida Electric Company to form the Tampa Street Railway and Power Company.

Tampa’s original trolley company quickly encountered competition. In April 1892, the Tampa Suburban Company was formed by a group of local entrepreneurs, including Peter O. Knight, who realized the growing commercial potential of the city as a result of the opening of the luxurious Tampa Bay Hotel across the Hillsborough River in West Tampa. In an effort to forestall competition, the Tampa Street Railway and Power Company secured an injunction to prevent operation of the Suburban lines. With an appeal pending, backers of the Suburban Company organized a new corporation, selling stock to local citizens. The Consumers Electric Light and Street Railway Company soon became the dominant trolley system in Tampa by winning a rate war against its rival, which it bought out on June 18, 1894. After some financial disputes and trouble with stockholders, Consumers went into receivership, and in 1899, it became what is today Tampa Electric Company.

In its early years, the company operated just over 21 miles of tracks with main lines extending to Ybor City, West Tampa and Ballast Point. At its peak, 190 streetcars covered Tampa’s 53 miles of streetcar lines along 11 routes. The streetcars ran from 4:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. every day.

The streetcar served a purpose beyond workday transportation. A 1940s map and schedule of the Tampa Street Car System requests that shoppers avoid the rush hour periods. Resorts and parks operated by street railway companies, known as “electric parks,” were established in cities throughout the United States. In Tampa, the recreational venues DeSoto Park, Ballast Point Park and Pier, MacFarlane Park, and the Sulphur Springs Pool were developed at the extremities of the streetcar lines. In addition to public parks, Tampa Electric Company also built the original Fortune Street and Garcia Avenue bridges and contributed funding to the construction of the current Fortune Street (now Laurel Street) and Lafayette Street (now Kennedy Boulevard) bridges.

Tampa’s streetcar reached its peak of popularity in the 1920s. The system carried almost 24 million passengers in 1926. Tampa’s streetcar ridership remained high during World War II, when gas and rubber rationing limited automobile and bus travel. But the end of World War II also brought the end of streetcar service in Tampa. Residents had long complained that streetcars were noisy and hampered the flow of auto and bus traffic. Bus systems were also promoted as cheaper and more practical for public transportation. Tampa Electric Company had been operating its streetcar system at a loss for many years, since it never raised its fare above the original five-cents (two-and-a-half cents for school children). In August 1946, the last Tampa Electric Company streetcar made its final run. Bus service took over former streetcar routes.Tampa Trolley

In October 2002, Tampa Electric Company began running six historical replica streetcars along a new 2.4-mile line, connecting Ybor City, the Channel District, and the Tampa Convention Center. A 1/3-mile extension is under construction, running along Franklin Street to the parking garages at Whiting Street.

Images courtesy the Florida State Archives.

Thinking of Replacing Your Wood Windows?

If you live in a historic home, preservationists urge you to think about restoration and repair before razing. Here are some issues to consider:

• More heat is lost through the roof and insulated walls than windows.

• Windows need routine maintenance, including resealing and caulking, to be energy efficient.

• Storm windows installed on the exterior of existing windows or window inserts attached to the interior side can reduce heat loss.

• A thin reflective covering called “low-E film” can be applied to single-pane glass to reduce heat loss.

• If you’re trying to be “green,” remember that vinyl and aluminum windows take more resources, toxins and energy to produce than restoring old windows.

• Retaining the original windows in a historic home can be an advantage when selling the home to buyers who value authenticity.

• If you refinish windows yourself, beware of the possibility of lead in the paint and asbestos in the glazing putty. Kits are available in home-improvement stores to test for lead. If you don’t test, assume there are toxins and wear protective masks, a respirator, gloves and other gear.

• Double- or single-hung windows are sometimes replaced because they no longer open. The problem often stems from layers of paint on the pulley system ropes. Instead of discarding the entire window, replace the ropes. When painting, cover the ropes with masking tape or paper.

• Different kinds of glass are used to replace historic or antique window panes. Glass with waves, bubbles and other imperfections reminiscent of antique glass is available, but can be costly, particularly if it’s mouth-blown. Sometimes, homeowners opt for contemporary, double-paned glass.

For more information on restoring, replicating or replacing historic windows:

• Go to www. oldhouseweb.com and search for “historic window repair.”

• Go to www. preservationnation.org and search for “historic wood window tip sheet.”

• See a video of historic window restoration by EcoWoodworks at http:// ecowoodworks.com. The custom carpentry firm is at 3016 Sapp Road, Tumwater, or at 360-943-3808.

Sources: City of Olympia Historic Preservation program, Grace Morrisson of Bear Wood Windows Inc.

Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/12/29/1481478/window-treatment-not-so-hasty.html#ixzz19Y3pzzGC

History Hunt #3

This now demolished large building was located in downtown Tampa. Can you guess where it was? The train tracks in the image might get you in the vicinity, although they stop short of this location today. This large rectangular building looks like it would have made a great downtown office building had it survived through the years.

Burgert Brothers photo
This now-demolished building once graced downtown Tampa

2011 Preservation Awards Nominations

Tampa Preservation, Inc. is now accepting nominations for the 2011 Preservation Awards. Projects can be nominated in the following categories:

RESTORATION/REHABILITATION

  • Residential buildings built before 1960
  • Commercial buildings built before 1960
  • Structures: bridges, monuments, sculptures, etc. before 1960

The guidelines for the awards include consideration of sensitivity to the historic integrity of the site following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Rehabilitation. Preference is given to exterior restoration projects that exemplify Tampa Bay’s cultural, historical, and architectural heritage. The evaluation focuses on whether the significant features of the building are retained, whether changes are compatible with the architectural style of the building and whether original materials are restored or replaced with similar kind and finish. Although the building need not be renovated to “museum quality,” review will be based on the overall quality of the renovation taking into consideration that a building may be adapted for modern life while remaining true to its architectural style. Review will consider not only the building but also the site including outbuildings, fencing, paving materials and landscaping.

Winners in this category receive a banner to display on their building (as shown in the photo).

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT
This award recognizes outstanding contribution to the preservation of historical resources in Tampa and Hillsborough County by an individual. The award nomination will be based on outstanding achievement for a significant project or for a lengthy period of dedication to preservation activities. Nominations may be submitted without the knowledge of the nominee.

ORGANIZATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
This award recognizes outstanding achievement in preservation activities by a group, business, neighborhood or other organization in Tampa and Hillsborough County. The award nomination will be based on outstanding achievement for a significant project or for a lengthy period of dedication to preservation activities. Nominations may be submitted without the knowledge of the nominee.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM OR PROJECT
The types of educational projects that will be considered in this award category include books, brochures or other publications; video-programs; and educational training programs for a general audience or targeted audience (i.e.: school children or teachers).The award nomination will be evaluated based on the impact of the program on the intended audience and the quality of the project.

Applications are due on or before March 4, 2011. To download a TAMPA_PRESERVATION_2011award form or to see last year’s winning projects, please go to the TPI Preservation Awards page.

History Hunt #2 w/ Answer

This castle-like brick building was demolished and a modern building now sits on the lot in downtown Tampa. Any guesses where it was? Can you imagine it in downtown Tampa still? What might it have been reused as today? Would it serve as a destination that locals and visitors would want to visit?

WHERE WAS IT LOCATED?

ANSWER:
This is how the same site at the corner or Kennedy and Morgan in downtown Tampa looks today (via Google Earth images):

Incorrect image – see comments below for a link

City Preservation Openings

The City of Tampa is seeking applicants who would like to be appointed by City of Council to the Barrio Latino Commission, the Enterprise Zone Development Agency, and the Historic Preservation Commission. Deadline for submission of applications is 5:00 p.m. on Friday-December 3, 2010, in the Office of the City Clerk, Old City Hall, 315 E. Kennedy Blvd., Third Floor, Tampa, Florida.

The City Council of the City of Tampa has scheduled three-minute presentations by the applicants interested in being considered for one of these positions. The three-minute presentations are scheduled to be held on December 16, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. under Staff Reports and Unfinished Business during the regular session of City Council. The regular sessions of City Council are held in the Tampa City Council Chambers, Old City Hall, 315 E. Kennedy Blvd., Third Floor, Tampa, Florida.

More information is available on the City of Tampa’s website: http://www.tampagov.net/appl_tampa_Boards_and_commissions

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of the City Clerk at (813) 274-8397.