In Petula Clark's 1964 smash hit "Downtown," the singer describes a place where all troubles are forgotten and all cares are left behind with the glamour of bright lights, movie shows, and flashy neon signs that light up the city streets. During the 1940s and 1950s, downtown Tampa was a shining model of the American landscape. On every street corner, customers packed their shopping bags with the best to offer from dress shops, hat shops, shoe stores, and of course those beloved department stores of a bygone era, including Kress, Woolworth's, and Grant's. Locally owned stores and shops fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit of Tampa families also dotted the streets of downtown and flourished during Tampa's postwar population expansion, offering an endless bounty of possibilities for success. These historic storefront photographs, compiled from private collections and local library archives, present a walking tour of downtown Tampa and other popular neighborhoods during a simpler time that is so well-loved and remembered.
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