The daughter and sister to two Tampa mayors, Jackson played a key role in creating Tampa’s parks and recreation department. She founded the Tampa Civic Association, which led the charge to create the city’s ﬁrst public play-ground, develop a safe water and sewage system, improve public sanitation, pave roads, and repair public buildings. Jackson also helped bring the Academy of the Holy Names to Tampa and was a major supporter of the preservation of land in the Everglades. Beyond philanthropy, Jackson was a major shareholder in Citizens Bank and continued developing her family’s land in Downtown Tampa.
Henry B. Plant
Best known for bringing the railroads to Tampa and developing the Tampa Bay Hotel (what is now the University of Tampa) in the 1880s, Plant was also the original owner of the land that makes up South Tampa’s Beach Park neighborhood. He sold the land, initially deemed “uninhabitable” because of its dense tropical brush, to a group of investors that included members of the wealthy Mabry family (of Dale Mabry Highway fame) in 1911. The developers called the neighborhood “Beach Park by the Bay” to highlight the neighborhood’s proximity to the water and downplay its barrenness.
Despite facing some op-position from Bayshore Boulevard residents concerned about losing their views of the bay, D.P. Davis purchased Little Grassy Island and a share of Big Grassy Island from the city of Tampa and received permission to ﬁll in surrounding areas in 1924. Davis had success a few years earlier developing land in Miami during that city’s real estate boom, and each of his initial 306 lots on the new Davis Islands sold out in the ﬁrst three hours they were available. By fall 1925, land was only available by resale. However, when Florida’s real estate market cooled in 1926, Davis sold the entire development to the newly formed Davis Islands Investment Company. On October 12, 1926, Davis disappeared from the RMS Majestic while on a cruise to Europe with his young son and mistress; he was presumed to have fallen overboard, but his body was never found. The mystery surrounding the end of his life continues to this day.
Chapin and her husband, Chester, moved from New York to Tampa in 1891, purchasing the 110 acres of land that they developed into the Ballast Point neighborhood. She was also a major stockholder in Consumers Electric Light and Street Railway Company, which operated the streetcar that ran along Bayshore Boulevard. Chapin had her own private streetcar, Fair Lady, that she used to entertain friends at places like the Ballast Point Pavilion. Part of the land purchase included a park, which Chapin named Jules Verne Park; the science ﬁction author had name-checked the city of Tampa in his story From the Earth to the Moon, which told the tale of ﬁctional rocket launches from “Tampa Town.” Chapin sold the streetcar company to Tampa Electric in 1899 due to bankruptcy and soon moved away from the city with her husband.
The Tampa attorney founded South Tampa’s Palma Ceia neighborhood in 1903. He originally called the subdivision, and the fresh water spring within it, Madrid; later, he ﬁled plans with the name Palmera Spring. By 1910, he had renamed the project Palma Ceia, likely a tribute to both his own last name and his desire to give the neighborhood an exotic, Spanish-sounding name.
The arrival of Henry Plant’s railroads brought with it O.H. Platt, who developed Tampa’s ﬁrst subdivision — Hyde Park. Platt, for whom Platt Street is named, chose the name in homage to the Chicago neighborhood in which he grew up. Platt purchased the land in 1886 from Nancy and Robert Jackson, the daughter and son-in-law of Levi Coller. He originally owned the land, farming it to provide food to the military stationed at Tampa’s Fort Brooke. Hyde Park was developed further when the now-Kennedy Boulevard bridge was built to connect Tampa on each side of the Hillsborough River.
Col. Leslie MacDill
MacDill is the only person on this list who never actually lived in Tampa, yet his legacy has had ripple effects throughout the community. A native of Illinois, Col. MacDill trained in aviation and served in both the Philippines and Europe during World War I, eventually instructing an aerial gunnery school in France. Between the wars, MacDill helped push for the creation and expansion of the Air Corps within the U.S. Army, which did not come to fruition until after his untimely death in 1938. While piloting a basic combat training plane in Washington, D.C., MacDill crashed due to engine failure, killing him and his engineer on board. In 1941, the Air Corps named its new Tampa base MacDill Field in the colonel’s honor.