Imagine the bustling streets of Ybor City over a century ago: men and women speaking Spanish and Italian; the buzz of the factories; the smell of cigar smoke; the music and dancing.
Catherine Cueto, a Master’s candidate in History at the University of South Florida, will explore Ybor City’s fascinating history and culture during a talk at Manatee Village Historical Park on Saturday, February 23 at 2:00 pm.
“Ybor City: A Latin Enclave in the American South, 1885-1930” will delve into what makes Ybor unique by placing it in the context of American history, particularly that of the South, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Cuban businessman Vincente Martinez Ybor founded Ybor City in 1885 to expand his cigar business into the United States. Within about a year, Ybor had created a grid for the city and built housing for the cigar workers he brought from Cuba, Spain, and Sicily.
The working conditions in Ybor City’s factories were somewhat unique for the American South in the 1800s. Men and women of diverse ethnic backgrounds worked alongside each other for comparable wages. Ybor City was not isolated from Tampa (it was annexed in 1887) nor from the rest of the nation. It was a Southern American town. However, in place of a Southern drawl, visitors heard different languages entirely.
Cuban, Spanish, Italian, and even German and Romanian immigrants created social clubs and mutual aid societies to provide a social outlet, a sense of community, and a support system. Membership to a club provided access not only to entertainment, but also to hospitals, pharmacies, banks, and even cemeteries.
In her upcoming talk, Cueto seeks to help audiences better understand Ybor City’s place within the nation and the world. She will examine labor and industry, mutual aid societies, the Cuba Libre movement, ethnicity, gender, class and culture.
Cueto is a Master’s student in History at the University of South Florida. Her research is focused on Florida and Ybor City, specifically histories that engage with immigrant communities and identities, gender, ethnicity, and labor post-Civil War. Prior to her Master’s studies, Cueto worked at the Ybor City Museum Society collecting and transcribing oral histories of Cuban Americans in Tampa. As a third generation Tampeño of Latin heritage, Cueto enjoys bringing scholarship back to her community and capturing and disseminating stories that aren’t commonly told, like those of women, laborers, minorities, immigrants, and everyday people.
Catherine Cueto will present “Ybor City: 1885-1930” in the 1887 Church. The talk will last approximately 45 minutes and a light reception will follow.
Because it is the fourth Saturday of the month, Manatee Village will be open to the public from 9am-4pm.
This event is free and open to the public. No reservations are required. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Manatee Village has 12 sets of assisted listening devices available for use during the talk, also on a first come, first served basis.