T.J. Chaltry leads monthly walking tours of downtown Tampa’s core as a Tampa Bay History Center guide. During the 90-minute, one-mile walk, he talks about old City Hall, mentioning that the clock in the 1915 structure is named Hortense. He notes that the 19-story Floridan Hotel, built in 1926, was the tallest building in Florida until 1966. Elvis Presley stayed there in 1955.
He takes the tour along the “five and dime” store block to the old F.W. Woolworth’s, where in 1960 Black civil rights activists staged a protest sit-in at the segregated lunch counter. Tourgoers see the S.H. Kress building, with its elaborate Italian Renaissance Revival style facade.
“It was the center of commercial and social life on Franklin Street back in its heyday in the 1940s and 50s,’’ Chaltry says.
He tells them that the Tampa Theatre, built in 1926, was the first air-conditioned commercial building in the city.
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