Don Vicente Martinez Ybor, an influential cigar manufacturer and Cuban exile, came to the area looking to build a company town in 1885. The Ybor cigar factory was the largest in the world, employing more than 4,000 workers. From 1886 until the 1930s, Ybor City was a flourishing Latin community. People paid premium prices for hand-rolled cigars. Ybor City was the 'Cigar Capital of the World.' The cigar industry declined with the Depression, the advent of cigarettes and the introduction of cigar-making machines. Factories closed and families moved away. It was the end of an era.
The Ferlita family proudly gather for a photo in front of the bakery, which can be seen to the right. In 1896, the Ferlita family began baking in the La Joven Francesca Bakery. The original structure was destroyed in a fire. In 1923, the family rebuilt the current structure and continued to bake in Ybor City through the 1960s.
The Ybor City Museum garden as it was in 1981, prior to the placement of the casitas. Seven of these small cigar worker homes were moved to the Museum property in the 1980s. One of them, known as La Casita, has been restored to its historic condition so that visitors can explore and imagine life in these tiny homes.
The Ferlita Bakery oven is fired and ready for bread. At one time the bakery produced more than 5,000 loaves of bread per day. Today, the ovens still exist and offer visitors an opportunity to explore the bakery's history.
In 1886, Vincente Martinez Ybor purchased a 40-acre parcel of land to begin development of the cigar factory town that became known as Ybor City. The Ybor City Museum State Park explores the history of the town and the cultural history of its people.