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I had not been in downtown Tampa for years. But people have told me it has fallen on bad times. So, yesterday (April 28, 2005), I went to see for myself. It was worse than I anticipated. I remember Tampa as a bustling, active city where it was sometimes hard to make your way down the sidewalk. Now, though not exactly a ghost town, it does have a ghostly aura. There a few people on the streets and many of the formerly vibrant commercial sites are boarded up. True, there are quite a few tall, modern buildings. But they function as isolated pinnacles, unrelated to life on
Out and About with Word and Image of Vermont
Downtown Tampa Today
the streets. The most woeful sight for me was the old Maas Brothers Building. Once the center of commercial life in the city, it is now dead and moldering. I once went into the Maas Brothers building with grand hopes of a new pair of shoes or a shirt that would impress girls at a Friday night dance. Now, I can't go into it at all, and Maas Brothers itself, transformed into Burdines and then into Macy's, is no more. It's inevitable that cities go through cycles. But the decline of many middle-sized urban centers from what they were fifty years ago to what they are now makes up many of America's sad stories. And among them Tampa is one of the saddest.