Tampa area pioneers earn spot on Riverwalk
TAMPA - The bronze busts of six Tampa area trailblazers will be unveiled Dec. 11 at the Tampa Bay History Center. The following day, they will be placed in their permanent positions – along a historical monument trail at the downtown Riverwalk. The busts include: a Mound Builder, one of Florida's first people; nurse Clara Frye; Henry B. Plant, who brought the railroad and the Tampa Bay Hotel to Tampa; cigar czar Vicente Martinez-Ybor; shipping magnate James McKay; and suffragist Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain. In March, a panel of nine historians selected the historical figures for busts. Those chosen were lauded for their positive effects on Tampa or Hillsborough County.Plant's bust will be placed along the Riverwalk by Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park; Frye's at Waterworks Park; the Mound Builder at Cotanchobee Park; Ybor's near the Tampa Bay History Center; Chamberlain's at the Performing Arts Center; and McKay's at the Tampa Convention Center. The nonprofit group Friends of the Riverwalk worked with the history center on the project. Private donations paid for the six busts. In future years, dozens more contributors will be honored on the trail winding along downtown Tampa's waterfront. The panel of historians already has met to discuss the next group of inductees; an announcement is expected next year. The project's goal is to inform Riverwalk strollers about the area's significant people and events. Honorees must be dead at least 15 years. Ultimately the Riverwalk will span about 2½ miles and create a pedestrian corridor from the Channel District to Tampa Heights.
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