The Journey Is Complete.
Hillsborough County, Florida was 14 times its present size when it was established by the Florida Territorial Legislature in 1834. Its boundaries, extending as far north as Ocala, as far east as Orlando and as far south as Lake Okeechobee and Charlotte Harbor, included all or part of 23 present-day Central and South Florida counties. From this “Historic Hillsborough County”, Pánfilo de Narváez (1528) and Hernando De Soto (1539) led the first explorations by Europeans of what would become the United States. With these two expeditions, the Spanish initiated the great exchange of food, fiber and technology between the Eastern and Western hemispheres that forever changed culture and environment. The events reflect some of the oldest recorded history in the United States - a history that predates the Jamestown settlement and Plymouth Colony by 80 to 90 years.
The History Center’s exciting mission is to share with our visitors the important history that has shaped and continues to shape the Tampa Bay area. Today, the Tampa Bay History Center provides exciting programs, exhibits and special events for residents of Tampa Bay our region's more than 15 million annual visitors.
The History Center, located near the historically important Fort Brooke reservation (the birthplace of modern Tampa), contains 60,000 square feet of exhibits depicting almost 500 years of recorded history and 12,000 years of human habitation in this region. Native Americans and Spanish conquistadors, pioneer settlers and cigar workers, immigrants and cowboys, military and sports heroes, and entrepreneurs and workers - white, black, Hispanic, Jewish, urban, rural, old, young - have all contributed to our “sense of place.” Schoolchildren, residents and visitors to Tampa Bay will feel, sense and discover these life stories in ways meaningful to their families and to contemporary society.
The Tampa Bay History Center is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization and is supported in part by a variety of funding sources including earned revenue, public and private contributions, membership dues, sponsorships, and in-kind contributions. Ten percent of the History Center’s total funding is derived from the City of Tampa and the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners.