Saving Original Tampa Through Art

December 27, 2016 | Tampa Downtown | Art

Lying in the Tampa Bay Express (TBX) Lane’s proposed path of destruction is a mural celebrating Tampa’s history.

Written By Derek Herscovici  |  Photography By Gabriel Burgos

With so much development and construction happening in Downtown Tampa, it can be easy to overlook this city’s heritage, or even to forget whole neighborhoods entirely.

Tampa Heights artists Michelle Sawyer and Tony Krol, aware that their beloved hangout Café Hey could soon be torn down to make room for an expanded I-275, wanted to commemorate the area’s history while there is still time. Mixing familiar iconography from Tampa’s past like cigars and the trolley with eye-grabbing style, the mural celebrates the history of Tampa’s first suburb, now more than 120 years old. Fittingly, it adorns Café Hey’s southern wall, facing the I-275 overpass.

The Florida Department of Transportation is still planning to go through with the highway expansion known as TBX, which would call for the demolition of hundreds of historic homes and businesses throughout the city.

Someday residents may be able to shorten their commute, but for now Sawyer and Kol’s mural reminds residents that history still lives here.

Tampa Heights Mural
1540 N. Franklin Ave., Tampa, FL 33602