Sense Of Place: Tampa Riverwalk Historic Monument Trail

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recently approved a $120,000 grant for the Riverwalk Historical Monument Trail, matching private funds raised for the project.

Part of the county's Historic Preservation Challenge Grant Program, the grant was unanimously approved by the BOCC, allowing the county to continue with its project honoring significant events and noteworthy people that have helped shaped the history of Tampa and Hillsborough County. The trail will wind around the  Tampa Riverwalk, serving as an educational tool to residents and visitors walking along the Hillsborough River.

“Tampa has a really rich history and, unfortunately, for many decades, we have not done a great job at preserving that history and honoring the people who have made it happen,” says Steve Anderson, chair of the Historical Monument Trail Committee. “We really want to help people understand and develop a sense of pride for where they live.”

Six people are slated to be honored each year, with current honorees including Clara Frye, humanitarian and founder of Tampa's first hospital for African Americans; cigar manufacturer and Ybor City namesake Vicente Martinez-Ybor; the first Floridians (moundbuilding Indians); businessman and railroad magnet Henry Bradley Plant; James McKay, businessman and early maritime developer; and suffragist Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain. Friends of the Riverwalk will work in conjunction with the Tampa History Center to honor more than 30 along the trail.

“These monuments are going to placed along the Riverwalk so when guests from out of city and state walk along our beautiful Riverwalk, they will be able to stop periodically and see ... these historically significant people,” Anderson says. “Visitors will be able to read a little bit about how these people contributed to where this community is today.”

Completion and installation of the first six monuments is expected by Fall 2012; the first six clay busts by local artist and sculptor Steve Dickey of Dickey Studios are complete, ready for firing. According to Anderson, the public can submit significant events and historic persons they wish to see featured along the trail.

In June 2012, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that the 2.6-mile Riverwalk received a $10.9 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to make way on filling two major gaps in the Riverwalk: one segment going south of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park under the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge and a second going north from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts to Water Works Park

According to Anderson, the Historical Monument Trail is the first of many projects planned to bring art, history, education and entertainment to the Tampa Riverwalk.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Steve Anderson, Tampa Riverwalk Historical Monument Trail
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