Ybor Street Sign Dispute Boils Down To The Missing 'P'
TAMPA - For several years, a war of words has been raging in Ybor City. Spanish-speaking visitors have questioned why the signs on Seventh Avenue, the historic district's main thoroughfare, misspelled the word for "seventh." "La Setima" is a colloquialism from the early 20th century, when waves of immigrants from Spain, Cuba and Italy flocked to Ybor looking for work in the cigar factories. Some community leaders and old-timers want to change the signs to "La Septima," which they argue is the proper spelling.Others say leave the signs alone. On Nov. 18, the Ybor City Development Corp.'s board of directors voted 12-5, with one abstention, in favor of keeping the current spelling. Now the issue is in the hands of the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, which is comprised of Tampa City Council members. The agency will decide Thursday whether to leave the avenue's signs as they are or remove the Spanish wording altogether, which would cost the city $1,300 to $3,000. City officials say it would cost too much to change the spelling of "Setima" on the signs, which also refer in English to "7th Ave." Fran Costantino, president of the East Ybor Neighborhood Association, wants the agency to change the wording. Costantino, also a member of the development corporation's board, said she has spoken to people who grew up in Ybor City and want the signs to read La Septima. "These are people who have very deep roots in this neighborhood, not outsiders," she said. "And none of them can remember Seventh Avenue being called La Setima." Residents on both sides are expected to attend the meeting at 9 a.m. at city hall, 315 E. Kennedy Blvd. The signs were installed about a decade ago. The wording had been recommended by Ybor City historian Frank Lastra, who had written that "La Setima" was what early Ybor residents called Seventh Avenue. He also wrote that the Royal Academy of Spanish Language in Madrid and major dictionaries in Spain define both spellings as meaning "seventh."
Reporter Christian M. Wade can be reached at (813) 259-7679 or firstname.lastname@example.org.