History Hunt #5

This 1924 street scene shows an intersection in the northern end of downtown Tampa that had already changed dramatically by 1931. There are several significant downtown historic landmarks remaining in the vicinity, two of which have been part of an ongoing preservation struggle. A historic 3-story brick building with an interesting history replaced the 2-1/2 story rooming house but the building on the left is now gone. A free t-shirt will be given to the first person who correctly guesses where this photo was taken.

Tampa historic photo

Asa a side note: notice the small railroad crossing tower on posts on the right side of the photo. They were once common throughout the Tampa, located at major intersections. For some more information and images, see this post. We are not aware of any remaining towers in Tampa, so if you know of one, please let us know.

5 Replies to “History Hunt #5”

  1. Congratulations! Send an email to TPI with your contact info and we’ll send you a Tampa T-shirt.

    A movie theater replaced this boarding house. It remains on the site today.

  2. Before the railroad crossing gates were fully automated, a watchman located in the small one room tower would lower the gates when a Seaboard Air Line Railroad train approached the crossing, and raise the gates after the train cleared the crossing. The gates were raised and lowered by electric motors at the base of the gates which the watchman controlled from inside the tower.

    At crossings where there were no electric motors or gates the crossing watchman spotted approaching trains, then went downstairs to block the crossing, using flags or fusees (small flares). Though some crossings were protected by train activated crossing equipment, where back and forth switching was common, a crossing watchman could more precisely control the traffic, as well as pedestrians. Many watchman locations were required by city ordinance, wonder if Jacksonville’s were?

    So while the industrial lead may have played a part in the location of the tower, the job itself was more likely to have been to protect traffic including pedestrian, horse, rail and automobile.

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