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Thinking inside the box

By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 11, 2002


WHERE is South Tampa?

WHERE is South Tampa?

I yearn for geographic precision.

I have come to South Tampa's Borders to ask about South Tampa's borders. Specifically, the northern one.

"South of Kennedy," says Tracy McBee, 24.

* * *

HMMM. It's a common view.

But I wonder: Does South Tampa include Hyde Park North and not North Hyde Park?

One falls below Kennedy; the other, above.

Does it exclude Borders? How about WestShore Plaza?

The matter soon gets muddier.

* * *

IN A BACK CORNER of the bookstore, I stumble upon a regular meeting of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Member Al Bedgood hands me a brochure, which includes a map of the United States.

On it, we are neither South Tampa nor West Tampa nor Central Tampa.

We are The Kingdom of Trimaris.

* * *

I FIGURE I'm onto something.

Geographic ambiguity surrounds us.

"It's not like, 'Here's Germany, here's France, this is the boundary,' " concurs Jerry Clark, president of the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, in a phone call Wednesday. "It's a little nebulous."

* * *

SURE, the city tidily divides Tampa into scores of distinct neighborhoods -- among them, Old Hyde Park, Ballast Point, Interbay, Palma Ceia, Parkland Estates, New Suburb Beautiful, Oscawana ...

"OSCAWANA?" inquires a puzzled copy editor, reading our recent profile of Inkwood Books' owners.

* * *

BUT WHO pays attention.

Not Hyde Park Awnings. It's in Seminole Heights.

Palma Ceia Amoco? Mid Peninsula.

Hyde Park Interiors? On Fowler Avenue.

* * *

BACK TO South Tampa. The other day, a real estate ad listed a home on Braddock Street, north of Columbus Drive, as South Tampa.

Verizon's South Tampa SuperPages include West Tampa and Tampa International Airport.

And I must confess that City Times, "serving South Tampa," distributes as far north as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. (We like black beans and yellow rice.)

But Kennedy, the cutoff?

"A lot of people think Kennedy, but we think Interstate 275 South," Clark says.

* * *

THE CONFUSION isn't limited to South Tampa.

Borders visitor Angela Roche, 16, lives near Leto High School.

When people ask, she uses University Community Hospital at Carrollwood -- south of Waters Avenue -- as a reference point.

"So you live in Carrollwood?" they ask.

No, she says.

* * *

THAT brings me to next week's topic: Carrollwood. How far south does it go?

Or maybe not.

-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or pryan@sptimes.com.

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