Press Release

June 20, 2017
Contact: Manny Leto


History Center Maps the Florida-Cuba Connection

A new exhibition at the Tampa Bay History Center features rare maps
spanning five centuries of interaction between Cuba and Florida

(Tampa, June 20, 2017) – For some, the connections between Florida and Cuba begin with Fidel Castro’s takeover in 1959. For others, especially in Tampa, they begin 70 years earlier with the arrival of the cigar industry and the founding of Ybor City in 1886. Or, maybe it was back in the 1850s when the McKay family started shipping cattle from Tampa’s Ballast Point to Havana.

However, in “Gateways to the Caribbean: Mapping the Florida-Cuba Connection,” a new exhibit opening Saturday, July 1 at the Tampa Bay History Center, you’ll find an unbroken thread between the Sunshine State and the island nation dating back nearly 500 years.

On view through January 28, “Gateways to the Caribbean” charts five centuries of connections and interaction between Florida and Cuba through rare and original maps, lithographs and other documents.

In total, the more than 50 maps that make up “Gateways to the Caribbean” highlight the Spanish and British occupations of Cuba and Florida in the 15th and 18th centuries, the development of rail and steam ship lines that fostered trade and travel in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and tourist maps of Cuba printed both in the 1930s and as recently as 2016.

Also included in the exhibit are a collection of color lithographs depicting the British attack on Havana in 1762, in which they seized control of the island and wrested Florida away from Spain; a print by Cuban artist Ibrahim Miranda, created at the University of South Florida’s Graphics Studio in 2012; and several tourists and travel maps, on loan to the History Center from History Miami in South Florida.

Gateways to the Caribbean: Mapping the Florida-Cuba Connection” is on exhibit Saturday, July 1, 2017 through Sunday, January 28, 2018. For more information, visit, or call 813-228-0097.

Download the PDF of this press release.