For years, no one new these tunnels existed. Now there is increasing evidence of a mysterious network of tunnels that have been discovered underneath the historic neighborhood of Ybor City in Tampa, Florida.
Earlier this week, Gerry Curts, an architect who was on the site showed pictures and explained descriptions of one of the tunnels, according to a local news source. He said that a new opening to the tunnels was revealed during demolition work by developers planning to build a new office building.
Daryl Shaw, one of the developers involved in the project, confirmed the tunnels’ existence to Fox 13. He also explained that attempts will be made to preserve them, possibly by installing a glass floor in the office building.
Fox 13 also visited the basement of a another building in the neighborhood that is at least a century-old. Bricks patterns in the wall showed that tunnels had been closed off.
A National Historic Landmark District, Ybor City is located northeast of downtown Tampa. One theory on the existence of these tunnels suggests that they were used by Prohibition-era smugglers and bootleggers.
However, Curts and Dr. Gary Mormino, professor emeritus of history at the University of South Florida, told Fox 13 that organized crime did not likely need the tunnel system in the early 20th century. It would have been unnecessary because of the extent of public corruption.
Mormino speculated that the tunnels may have been part of a network that transported Chinese prostitutes from Cuba to the Port of Tampa to Ybor City in the early 1900s. He also added that we may never discover their real use.
“The tunnels of Ybor City represent one of the great riddles and mysteries,” he said.
Founded in 1886, Ybor City is known for its rich architecture, which includes former cigar factories and social clubs.