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The current location of Tampa was once inhabited by indigenous peoples of the Safety Harbor culture, most notably the Tocobaga and the Pohoy, who lived along the shores of Tampa Bay. It was briefly explored by Spanish explorers in the early 16th century, but there were no permanent American or European settlements within today’s city limits until after the United States had acquired Florida from Spain in 1819.
In 1824, the United States Army established a frontier outpost called Fort Brooke at the mouth of the Hillsborough River, near the site of today’s Tampa Convention Center. The first civilian residents were pioneers who settled near the fort for protection from the nearby Seminole population. The town grew slowly until the 1880s, when railroad links, the discovery of phosphate, and the arrival of the cigar industry jump-started Tampa’s development and helped it to grow into an important city by the early 1900s.
Today, Tampa is a part of the metropolitan area most commonly referred to as the Tampa Bay Area. For U.S. Census purposes, Tampa is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida MSA. The four-county area is composed of roughly 2.7 million residents, making it the second largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the state, and the fourth largest in theSoutheastern United States, behind Miami, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. The Greater Tampa Bay area has just over 4 million residents and generally includes the Tampa andSarasota metro areas. The Tampa Bay Partnership and U.S. Census data showed an average annual growth of 2.47 percent, or a gain of approximately 97,000 residents per year. Between 2000 and 2006, the Greater Tampa Bay Market experienced a combined growth rate of 14.8 percent, growing from 3.4 million to 3.9 million and hitting the 4 million people mark on April 1, 2007.
Tampa has a number of sports teams, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League, the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League, the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League. The Tampa Bay Rays in Major League Baseball, are actually based in neighboring St. Petersburg, Florida.
In 2008, Tampa was ranked as the 5th best outdoor city by Forbes. A 2004 survey by the NYU newspaper Washington Square News ranked Tampa as a top city for “twenty-somethings.” Tampa is now ranked as a “Gamma” world city by Loughborough University. According to Loughborough, Tampa ranks alongside other world cities such as Phoenix,Santo Domingo, and Osaka. In recent years Tampa has seen a notable upsurge in high-market demand from consumers, signaling more wealth concentrated in the area. Tampa has been tapped to host the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Geography and weather
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 170.6 square miles (442 km2), of which 112.1 square miles (290 km2) is land and 58.5 square miles (151.5 km2) (34.31%) is water. The highest point in the city is only 48 feet (15 m). Tampa is bordered by two bodies of water, Old Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay, both of which flow together to formTampa Bay, which in turn flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The Hillsborough River flows out into Hillsborough Bay, passing directly in front of Downtown Tampa and supplying Tampa with its main source of fresh water. Palm River is a smaller river flowing from just east of the city into McKay Bay, which is a smaller inlet, sited at the northeast end of Hillsborough Bay. Tampa’s cartography is marked by the Interbay Peninsula which divides Hillsborough Bay (the eastern) from Old Tampa Bay (the western).
Tampa has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summer days, frequent thunderstorms in the summer (rain is less frequent in the fall and winter), and a threat of a light winter freeze from November 15 through March 5 caused by occasional cold fronts from the north, and even then not every year. Since Tampa has some characteristics of a tropical climate, hard freezes happen rarely (every 15 to 20 years). Tampa is listed as USDAzone 10, which is about the northern limit of where coconut palms and royal palms can be grown. Average highs range from 70 to 90 °F (21 to 32 °C) year round, and lows 52 to 76 °F (11 to 24 °C). While it may surprise anyone who has suffered the area’s intense summer heat, Tampa’s official recorded high has never hit 100 °F (37.8 °C) – the all-time record high temperature is 99 °F (37 °C), recorded on June 5, 1985.
Temperatures are hot from around mid-April through mid-October, which coincides approximately with the rainy season. Summertime weather is very consistent, with highs near 90°F (32–34 °C), lows in the mid-70s °F (23–24 °C), and high humidity. Afternoon thunderstorms, usually generated by the interaction of the Gulf and Atlantic sea breezes, are such a regular occurrence during the summer that the Tampa Bay area is recognized as the “Lightning Capital of North America“. Every year, Florida averages 10 deaths and 30 injuries from lightning strikes, with several of these usually occurring in or around Tampa.
In the winter, average temperatures range from the low to mid 70s during the day to the low to mid 50s at night. However, sustained colder air from Canada pushes into the area on several occasions every winter, dropping the highs and lows to 15 degrees below the average (or even colder) for several days at a time before seasonal average temperatures return. The temperature falls below freezing an average of 2 to 3 times per year, though this does not occur every season. Since the Tampa area is home to a diverse range of freeze-sensitive agriculture and aquaculture, hard freezes, although very infrequent, are a major concern. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Tampa was 18 °F (−8 °C) on December 13, 1962.
In the Great Blizzard of 1899, Tampa experienced its one and only known blizzard, with “bay effect” snow coming off Tampa Bay. The last measurable snow in Tampa fell on January 19, 1977. The accumulation amounted to all of 0.2 inches (0.5 cm), but the city, unprepared for and unaccustomed to wintry weather, came to a virtual standstill for a day. Three major freezes occurred in the 1980s: in January 1982, January 1985, and December 1989. The losses suffered by farmers forced many to sell off their citrus groves, which helped fuel a boom in subdivision development in the 1990s and 2000s.
Neighborhoods and surrounding municipalities
The city is divided into many neighborhoods, many of which were towns and unincorporated communities annexed by the growing city. Generally, the city is divided into the following areas: Downtown Tampa, New Tampa, West Tampa,East Tampa, North Tampa, and South Tampa. Well-known communities include Ybor City, Forest Hills, Ballast Point, Sulphur Springs, Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, Palma Ceia, Hyde Park, Davis Islands, Tampa Palms, College Hill, and non-residential areas of Gary and the Westshore Business District.
Information courtesy of Wikipedia.