History of Tampa Street Names

One-story home painted in yellow and orange with a bright blue window awning
A colorful home in Seminole Heights brightens the corner of Mohawk and 11th. | Photo by City Editor David

When developer T. Roy Young chose the name Seminole Heights for Tampa’s first suburb in 1911, he was — as any Floridian (particularly any FSU fan) could tell you — name-checking the famous Seminole Tribe of Florida.

But what’s with the street names in Old Seminole Heights’ Hampton Terrace neighborhood? Powhatan. Comanche. Mohawk. These tribes never came anywhere near Florida.

Rodney Kite-Powell, Hillsborough’s county historian, is not sure exactly why the other Native American names crept into the neighborhood, but he assumes it was the developers’ idea. “They probably thought it was a good theme for naming the streets.”

White house with bright blue shutters with patch of green grass in the foreground
A lake, an island nation, and the river Danube intersect on Davis Islands. | Photo by City Editor David

Davis Islands seems to be referencing Native American tribes, too, with its Chesapeake, Huron, and Chippewa streets. But in this case, the naming convention is all about bodies of water and islands.

We’re talking Chesapeake the Bay, not the tribe. Huron the Lake, Chippewa the River, Biscayne the Bay, and the island nations of Cyprus and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) — all part of developer David P. Davis’ 1920s sales pitch for his man-made islands, lending them the aura of more exotic locales.

White two story home with a green lawn and driveway
A home on Dickens Ave. in Sunset Park. | Photo by City Editor David

In Sunset Park, you can’t walk a block without bumping into a famous writer — on a street sign, that is. Who was the mind behind this literary litany? The wife of the neighborhood’s developer, Charles Glover. A poet herself, Alma Glover named the streets after Poe, Longfellow, Emerson, Tennyson, Dickens, and a slew of other literary lions familiar to English majors everywhere.

For more information on how streets and other familiar locations got their names, visit the Tampa Bay History Center. This WFLA News Channel 8 story is also a good resource, including info. on the name ‘Tampa’ itself and interviews with Rodney Kite-Powell and USF’s Andy Huse.