Ybor City was founded in 1886 by Vicente Martinez- Ybor, a cigar manufacturer. The area’s name comes from the words “y’bore”, which is Spanish for ‘to bore’, and it gets its meaning from the fact that Mr. Martinez attempted to drill his own wells but found nothing more than water too salty or mineralized to be useful for making cigars.
When he realized how close Tampa Bay was, he instead built a factory there and began importing fresh water while drilling deeper into the bay to find better quality well water elsewhere onshore .
The neighborhood boomed with immigrants coming over from Cuba between 1899-1913 due to political instability during this time period . In 1900, Henry B Plant constructed one of the first Ybor City cigar factories and with the help of a Cuban engineer named José Manuel Jorge, he started to develop what would become the largest employer in Tampa. Across the next few years, many other immigrants from Spain, Italy, Syria- Lebanon, Greece, China (Tampa’s Chinatown), along with Cubans migrated into this neighborhood as well .
Today, Ybor City retains its identity as the historic cigar manufacturing center of Tampa.