February 3, 2016
Contact: Manny Leto
History Center exhibit ‘re-places’ historic fort
A new exhibit uses technology to bring the history
of Fort Brooke and early Tampa to life
In 1980, construction workers in downtown Tampa made an unexpected discovery: As they dug the foundation of a new parking garage, they uncovered the remains of more than 100 U.S. soldiers and 42 Seminole Indians, dating from the 1830s and 1840s. They all once lived on or near Fort Brooke, arguably the genesis of modern-day Tampa.
Re-Placing Fort Brooke, a new exhibit opening Saturday, Feb. 20, in the Tampa Bay History Center’s Touchton Map Gallery, uses cutting-edge technology to uncover the stories of Tampa’s earliest residents.
Presented in partnership with the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), visitors will be able to see the fort and the evolution of downtown Tampa as never before. In addition to early maps of Tampa’s Garrison District and artifacts recovered from the site in the 1970s and 1980s, the exhibit will feature digitally-rectified overlays of the original fort.
“Maps of Fort Brooke and Tampa will be superimposed right on top of modern images of downtown,” said Jeff Moates, Director of the West Central Regional Center of FPAN. “With the help of mapping software, we can line them up so they’re fairly accurate, and archaeology helps us get the maps even closer together by finding traces of the original buildings. It gives us even better accuracy,” he said.
Originally known simply as the “camp on the Hillsborough River,” Fort Brooke was established at the mouth of the Hillsborough River by the U.S. Army in 1824. The City of Tampa would flourish beyond the borders of the fort, at Whiting Street, the fort’s northern boundary.
Visitors will see some of the earliest photos of Tampa’s waterfront, how the shoreline changed, and how Tampa’s modern street grid developed.
“With all the new development happening in downtown Tampa, this is a great time to look back at how we got here and how the city was an outgrowth of Fort Brooke,” said History Center curator, Rodney Kite-Powell.
On Saturday, March 5, from 12-2 p.m., the History Center will host experts from FPAN and archaeology students from the University of South Florida, who will offer hands-on, family-friendly activities related to urban archaeology in Tampa and the Fort Brooke exhibit.
At 2 p.m. on Saturday, Rodney Kite-Powell, Director of the History Center’s Touchton Map Library, will offer a tour of the exhibit.
The day will also include a historical bike ride tour of downtown and the original boundaries of Fort Brooke, offered by History Bike Tampa. The ride culminates at Cotanchobee Park, located directly in front of the History Center. More information about the bike ride is at historybiketampa.com.
Re-Placing Fort Brooke is on exhibit at the History Center Feb. 20 through Aug. 28. For more information, contact the Tampa Bay Center at (813) 228-0097 or online at www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.
Upcoming Related Events
Saturday, Feb. 20 – Re-Placing Fort Brooke exhibit opening
Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m.-Noon – Fort Brooke Bike Ride. The tour is hosted by History Bike Tampa. Contact HistoryBikeTampa.com for details.
Saturday, March 5, Noon-2 p.m. – The Florida Public Archaeology Network will offer hands-on activities in Cotanchobee Park and at the History Center.
Saturday, March 5, 2 p.m. – Join Rodney Kite-Powell, Director of the History Center’s Touchton Map Library, for a guided tour of the exhibit. Tour is free with paid gallery admission.
Wednesday, May 11, 6 p.m. – Sangria and Stories: Re-Placing Fort Brooke with the Director of the History Center’s Touchton Map Library, Rodney Kite-Powell.