Ybor City, located in close to downtown Tampa, was once home to cigar companies and its workers.  Plenty of Cuban and Latin American flavor, and pretty much a lower income friendly neighborhood.

Old brick and timber warehouses dot the landscape throughout, with clapboard homes nestled in between.  A once peaceful setting for folks new to America to settle in and raise their children in a somewhat familiar soundings.

A few years ago, the city decided to turn this once historical area in an upscale  business and recreational section for the up and coming.  A place where old warehouse and factory buildings were turned into trendy shops and offices for Tampa’s busy professionals.

But now…after midnight, Ybor City becomes Tampa’s hard core entertainment district. The main street has become littered with crowded nightclubs which cater to just about any fringe group out there.  The streets are packed, the booze flows like crazy, and if one did not know better, you would swear you were on Bourbon Street in New Orleans!

Just on May of last month alone Police log read:

“A fatal shooting. A holdup at gunpoint. Other armed robberies, as well as aggravated assaults.”

“A few days later, six teens were charged with armed robbery and kidnapping, accused of holding up five people at gunpoint and invading a woman’s apartment.
In a separate incident, a man was fatally shot near the Empire nightclub”

Officials are quick to point out that the night clubs are not the only problem in the area.  Traffic, noise levels, large groups of young people just hanging around account for all sorts of complaints from nearby residents and business owners.

Several years ago I went through a period where I spent Friday nights there for 3 or 4 months with friends.  All I can say is that there is safety in numbers because when I happened to find myself alone on the streets, I made my way quickly to my car.  Just the dark streets themselves offer an irresistible call for crime.  Add to the mixture, crowds of stumbling merrymakers, and adolescent teens just hanging out for a good time, and Tampa Police have their hands full.

I don’t have the answer to this problem, and evidently the city hasn’t either, but I do know that if things continue to travel in a downward sprile, this area will continue to burn.


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