The first street in town to be paved, have sidewalks and electric lights installed, Franklin Street has served as Downtown Tampa’s historic commercial epicenter since the late 19th century. An early 20th century streetcar route and home to as many as five department stores, Franklin Street fell into decline during the 1960s as suburban development expanded across Tampa and Hillsborough County. Seeking to compete against suburban malls, including West Shore Plaza and Tampa Bay Center, city leaders converted a five block section of Franklin Street into a pedestrian mall during the 1970s. However, Franklin Street continued to decline, partially due to a reduction in store visibility and parking, culminating with the closure of Maas Brothers flagship department store in 1991 and Woolworths in 1992. Reopened to vehicular traffic in 2001, Franklin Street is a corridor that is coming back alive, along with the rest of Downtown Tampa. Here are a few sights and scenes from an April 2022 walk along Franklin Street.
Looking south on South Franklin Street from East Whiting Street.
The “quad block” is a segment of Franklin Street that was redeveloped into a pedestrian promenade, office and hotel complex during the 1980s.
Looking east down East Jackson Street.
Walking north at the intersection of Franklin Street and East Kennedy Boulevard.
Built in 1915, the Tampa City Hall building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
A walk through Lykes Gaslight Park.
The main headquarters of the Tampa Police Department.
North Franklin Street, looking north from East Madison Street.
The intersection of Franklin and East Twiggs Street.
Looking west on East Twiggs Street from North Franklin Street.
The Vault is an event space that was originally built for the Exchange National Bank in 1919.