TAMPA , the business hub of the west coast, has been one of the major beneficiaries of the flood of people and money into Florida - and boasts an impressive cultural diet envied by many larger rivals. A small, stimulating city with an infectious, upbeat mood, it's well worth a stop: in addition to its fine museums and Busch Gardens , one of the most popular theme parks in the state, it boasts in Ybor City the West Coast's hippest and most culturally eclectic quarter.
Tampa began as a small settlement beside a US Army base built to keep an eye on the Seminoles in the 1820s. In the 1880s the railroad arrived, and the Hillsborough River on which the city stands was dredged to allow seagoing vessels to dock. Tampa became a booming port, simultaneously acquiring a major tobacco industry as thousands of Cubans moved north from Key West to the new cigar factories of neighboring Ybor City. The Depression ended the economic surge, but the port remained one of the busiest in the country and tempered Tampa's postwar decline. While the social problems that blight any decent-sized US city are evident, little seems to stand in the way of Tampa's continued emergence as a forward-thinking and financially secure community
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