Seminole Heights turns 100

09/19/11 Kelly Benjamin
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Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood turned 100 years old this weekend with a community celebration drawing hundreds of residents.

In the early 20th century, the Tampa streetcar line stretched from downtown Tampa north to Sulphur Springs, at that time a tourist attraction. In 1911, Real estate developer T. Roy Young bought 40 acres halfway up the trolley line and divided it into buildable lots naming it Seminole Heights, Tampa's first streetcar suburb. The rest as they say, is history. This past Saturday, neighbors in Seminole Heights joined together to mark the one hundredth year of the neighborhood of shady oaks and front porches with games, venders, a showing of the Seminole Heights documentary, and of course, a birthday cake.

The event brought out residents young and old, including 87-year-old Margaret McAllister, an organist at First Presbyterian Church who was born in the same Seminole Heights bungalow she lives in to this day.

"Before the interstate, the streetcar went right here on Central from Sulpher Springs to downtown. We always enjoyed the streetcars. Actually that highway just cut Seminole Heights in half and that was sad, my mother was upset because she was afraid it would take our house."

In recent years, Seminole Heights has witnessed a revitalization with several small businesses, restaurants, a community garden and even a neighborhood bicycle club popping up. Alan Snel is the founder of the Seminole Heights bicycle club.

Seminole Heights is at the cutting edge of a lot urban development ideas, neighborhood ideas, and even our bike club for example, we're an urban bike club, unusual for the entire state of Florida."

The residents of Greater Seminole Heights have become well known for their civic activism over the years, turning the neighborhood around after years of neglect. Gary Ellsworth is the President of the south Seminole heights Civic Association.

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