There are many places in the world that are seemingly built for cigars, places with factories and roads paved of tobacco, places where leaves blossom freely and cigars are always lit. One of these places is Ybor City. Known now as a hotspot for bars and nightclubs, Ybor City was once known as the Cigar Capital of the World.
Ybor City is a historic district in Tampa, Florida. It was named after Vincent Martinez Ybor, a Spaniard who immigrated to Cuba at the age of 14. Starting off as a cigar salesman, Vincent Ybor eventually began to manufacturer the cigars he previously sold — he started his own cigar factory in Havana. But this time in Havana was a time of unrest, and a time on the brink of a war. As the Cuban Revolution raged, Vincent Ybor moved his factory and his workers to Key West, Florida.
The success of the relocation fluctuated. Ybor’s business was profitable, but labor and transportation problems kept true success evasive. A friend of Ybor's, Gavino Guiterrez, convinced him to investigate Tampa as a place to set up cigar roots. Tampa offered the climate, the water, and the transportation necessary for a productive operation.
Ybor was sold on the Tampa idea and purchased a large acreage of land in 1886 and not only started a business, but started a town. This area, built for the purpose of housing Ybor’s factories and his factory workers, became fittingly known as Ybor City.
Following the lead of Ybor, other cigar manufacturers moved to this area and by the close of the 19th century, Ybor City and Tampa had the honor of being the largest cigar manufacturer in the world. Not to be outdone by the expansion of the industry it held, the area itself also saw a population boom as well. When Ybor City was incorporated by Tampa into its municipality, the population shot up to 3000; three years later that number nearly doubled.