The 16th Century was the the first time Europeans explored, what is now known today as, Hillsborough County. Spanish conquistadors, Panfilo de Narvaez and Hernando DeSoto,
came in search of gold. What they did find were the Tocobagan Indians. Many battles were fought and finally, it took its toll on Panfilo de Narvaez. Hernando DeSoto extensively explored the region and met with resistance from the Seminole Indians. The Americans took possession of Hillsborough County in 1821.
Fort Brooke, being a central point of the area, evolved into Tampa. Much trading went on in the area and, soon, Tampa became one of the largest cities in Tampa Bay. It's a wonder it even existed considering there were two Seminole wars, A Civil War, plagues and many hurricanes.
When the railroad passed through the county in 1885, Spanish and Cuban cigar workers moved their families and businesses to Tampa. This was the start of one of the largest industries in the area.
In 1898, The American Army was highly involved in the Spanish-American War. Led by Teddy Roosevelt, what was know as "The Rough Riders" passed through Tampa on their way to invade Cuba.
Hillsborough County started to grow, rapidly in population and industry. Foreigners and tourists started to visit the county on a regular basis. The counties's resources, primarily made up of cigars, cattle, citrus, and phosphate fertilizer started being widely distributed.
When the "Roaring "20's" came along, Tampa became a boom town and ended up crashing, like the rest of Florida. Davis Island, in Tampa, still shows signs of that period. Tampa had a very stable economy during that period and were better able to handle the crash. Tampa achieved a rapid recovery.
Tampa, is the only major Florida city that is not dependent upon tourism. Therefore in the recent economic crisis, Tampa was able to recover quickly and is still the largest city in Tampa Bay.
Today, Tampa is the third largest city in Florida. The Tampa Port is the nation's seventh largest port. Tampa International Airport is known as the world's friendliest airport. The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center is the largest theater complex south the Mason Dixon line and Tampa Convention Center is one of the largest convention centers in the Southeastern United States.