Thousands of old Tampa photos released to public

- Ahead of the 130th birthday of the city of Tampa this weekend, more than 30,000 forgotten photos from the city's archives are being digitized and uploaded online.

"Ultimately, if we didn't do anything, they would all be destroyed," said David Fredericks with the City of Tampa Archives and Records. Some of the pictures were beginning to deteriorate.

The bulk of the photographs were taken by local photographers Joseph Scolaro and Rose Rutigliano Weekley.
They depict special moments, like weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, in the lives of everyday Tampa residents. There are also pictures of dignitaries and leaders who once ran the city.

Many of the pictures show roads and structures that once stood in West and South Tampa. There is also a collection highlighting Ybor City, where Tampa's 200 cigar factories reigned supreme, producing one million cigars a day.

WATCH: Thousands of old Tampa photos released for public display

"It brings back life in Tampa, and for people to connect with their past, to me, is incredible," said Fredericks.

During a special presentation of the photographs on Monday in Old City Hall, some of the guests, like Judge E.J. Salcines, saw pictures of themselves appear in the collections.

"I was very surprised that they had selected some of my wedding pictures, and now I can prove to my friends all the hair I used to have," said Salcines.

For younger generations, it was s a chance to learn the city's rich history for the first time through photographs.

"History is something we need to look at, remember and realize that it's made us what we are today," said former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.

"Today we're making it too easy. Just push buttons and things happen," he said jokingly.

The majority of the photos were taken from the 1940s through the 1990s. They are being uploaded on the city's website in collections.

The collections will be available online and can be accessed here: http://digitalcollections.hcplc.org/digital/

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