Tampa, Then and Now App

TC-logo-120The new Tampa, Then and Now app offers a journey back in time for iPhone and Android phone users. It allows mobile users the ability to compare more than 150 old photographs from the city to recent ones, taken from the exact same angle. After the success of several other ‘Then and Now’ apps, including Paris and Vancouver, Tampa visitors and residents can now too travel back in time!

“As a Tampa native, I wanted to see how the city has changed over the years. As a photographer, I wanted to photograph the area’s modern scenery. What was initially a quick snapshot soon turned into a methodical reproduction of scenes from all over the city” said Bryan Weinstein of www.TampaChanging.com, the creator and photographer of Tampa, Then and Now’s content, who partnered with the French company MyCityBefore to create the app.
Tampa - Historic-Superposition
Just like for the other cities’ app, the user first defines a notification range from the home screen which allows them to be automatically notified when getting close to an available “then and now” place. In the “find” tab, the user can locate the closest places using the list, map, or augmented reality views. They can also look directly for a specific place by using the search tool. One of the main features for each “then and now” place is the augmented reality tool, which allows users to superpose the old photograph on their phone’s camera to take their own “then and now” photo.

Users not only enjoy beautiful historic and modern photographs, but also brief anecdotes so they can learn more about the location’s history. The app’s content will evolve and expand as new historic locations are regularly added.

Tampa, Then and Now is now available for $1.99 and is available worldwide on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Then and Now apps for other cities are under construction, the next one being for Toronto.

Please visit www.MyCityBefore.com and www.TampaChanging.com for more Tampa, Then and Now information, including videos and screenshots of the app.

To download the app, visit: http://bit.ly/thennowapps

History-related Holiday Gift Idea #1

Want to get something unique for the Tampa-lover on your list? Consider these great notecards from Tampa Changing that feature iconic Tampa architecture. Website owner and Tampa native Bryan Weinstein finds historic photographs of historic buildings and rephotographs the buildings for great Now and Then images that document our area’s changing history. The set of ten 5″x7″ notecards include images of Tampa Theatre, The Tampa Bay Hotel, Franklin Street, 7th Avenue, and the J.C. Newman Cigar Factory.

Prints of each of the rephotographs are also available on the website which are suitable for framing. Many of these prints are available at the Tampa Bay History Center Gift Shop as well.

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.

History Hunt #4

This building was once prominently located in downtown Tampa, as was the house you can see to the left. The large Italianate building has been replaced and the house has been relocated. The site now showcases a prominent Tampa landmark. Do you know where they once stood? The first correct guess wins a T-shirt from Tampa Preservation, Inc.

See the comments below for the answer.

Here is a map of the site as it looked in 1903 with the old City Hall building shown in the photo:

Map of Tampa City Hall in 1903
Map of Tampa City Hall 1915

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.

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