Historic Markers Across Florida

Central Avenue

Marker ID:  
Location: on N Orange Ave north of Harrison St.
County: Hillsborough
Coordinates: N 27° 57.251    W 082° 27.337
  27.95418333    -82.45561666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WM33X6


From the late 19th century until the mid 1970´s, Central Avenue was the principal business and entertainment district of Tampa´s African-American community. In 1974, Urban Redevelopment razed all but a few of the buildings and converted the area into a park. Before it was destroyed, this section contained schools, churches, lodges, a library, physicians, lawyers, dentists, grocery stores, barbershops, drug stores, insurance companies, newspapers, restaurants, a hotel, movie theaters and more than a score of bars and nightclubs, some featuring major headliners of the black entertainment circuit. Celebrities, such as Ray Charles, James Brown, B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Nate and Cannonball Adderly, all played on Central when they were just getting started.

On Saturday afternoons and evenings the sidewalks and store-fronts of Central were jammed with people strolling, shopping, socializing, taking in the sights and sounds. During segregation, when African-Americans were not welcome in most commercial and recreational establishments in Tampa, Central Avenue provided a necessary alternative. The African-American businesses that grew to fill this need offered economic opportunities for proprietors, alternative employment for workers, and needed goods and services for consumers, within a friendly and familiar atmosphere.

Tampa Historical Society - 1996


City: Tampa, FL