Favorite thing: Long ago, Tampa pioneer Gavino Gutierrez tried to cultivate guava commercially here, but was unsuccessful because of the climate and rising land prices. However, a local newspaper columnist was successful in planting the idea that if New York is the "Big Apple," then it follows that Tampa must be the "Big Guava." And that's how it all began. For thirteen years, the mythical Mama Guava has led her loyal band of followers in the Mama Guava Stumble parade. Although Mama has sworn to take the "bore" out of Ybor, her job -- quite frankly -- is an easy one, at least for this one day.
Favorite thing: Ybor City, a section of the large metropolitan area of Tampa, Florida, owes its beginning to three Spaniards who came to the "New World" in the 19th century: Gavino Gutierrez, Vicente Martinez Ybor, and Ignacio Haya. Ybor immigrated to Cuba in 1832, at the age of 14. He worked as a clerk in a grocery store, then as a cigar salesman, and in 1853 he started his own cigar factory in Havana.
Favorite thing: Labor unrest, the high tariff on Cuban cigars, and the start of the Cuban Revolution in 1868 caused Ybor to move his plant and his workers to Key West, Florida. While his business there was successful, labor problems and the lack of a good fresh water supply and a transportation system for distributing his products led him to consider moving his business to a new location.
Favorite thing: Gavino Gutierrez came to the United States from Spain in 1868. He settled in New York City, but he traveled often–to Cuba, to Key West, and to the small town of Tampa, Florida, searching for exotic fruits such as mangoes and guavas. During a visit to Key West in 1884, he convinced Ybor and Ignacio Haya, a cigar factory owner from New York who was visiting Ybor, to travel to Tampa to investigate its potential for cigar manufacturing.
Favorite thing: After visiting Tampa in 1885, both Haya and Ybor decided to build cigar factories in the area. Gutierrez surveyed an area two miles from Tampa, even drawing up a map to show where streets might run. Ybor purchased 40 acres of land and began to construct a factory. He continued to manufacture cigars in Key West as well, until a fire destroyed his factory there in 1886. Afterwards, Ybor spent all of his time on his operations in the Tampa area. At age 68, Ybor began developing a company town "with the hope of providing a good living and working environment so that cigar workers would have fewer grievances against owners."1