Do you ever wonder what Florida was like during the 1920s, when bootleggers, flappers and more helped shape our culture? Then you need to make a visit to the Tampa Bay History Center, located at 801 Water St. in downtown Tampa.
Decade of Change: Florida in the 1920s is a new temporary exhibit at the history center. The exhibit is available for viewing now through July 14, 2024.
Decade of Change: Florida in the 1920s is curated by Brad Massey, Ph.D., Saunders Foundation curator of public history. The exhibit transports visitors back to an era marked by bootleggers, flappers and a transformative wave of social, political and cultural shifts. The exhibit provides a snapshot of what like was like in Florida during the 1920s.
“One of the interactive elements in the show will teach visitors how to do the foxtrot while boogying to ‘You Better Keep Babying Baby,’ a 1920s hit,” said Massey.
Another highlight of the exhibition is a collection of swimsuits that encapsulate the revolution in beachwear during the era. The daring departure from the conservative Bathing Suit Regulations of 1917 is told through the stories of innovators like Jane Fisher, who played a role in introducing fabric-light suits to the beaches of South Florida. Alongside bathing attire, Decade of Change features artifacts that tell the story of Prohibition in Florida, with intriguing items such as a pro-Prohibition Polk County newsletter and photographs of Tampa judge Leo Stalnaker, a staunch Prohibition champion.
The 1920s marked the rise of the motoring tourist, and the exhibition sheds light on this transformative trend. With approximately 2.5 million tourists visiting Florida in 1925 alone, the display showcases the evolution of transportation and the establishment of motorist camps, including Tampa’s historic DeSoto Park.
There is even something for sports enthusiasts who will love exploring the popularity of baseball, golf, and tennis during the 1920s. The exhibit features a look into the thriving sports culture, from the Davis Islands Tennis Club hosting the Dixie Cup in 1925 to the emergence of Florida as a premier golf destination with legends like Babe Zaharias, Bobby Jones, and Walter Hagen gracing the newly constructed courses.
The exhibit concludes with a thought-provoking examination of Jim Crow politics, architectural transformations and the rise of religious fundamentalism and Pentecostalism during this tumultuous period.
The Tampa Bay History Center is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
For more information, please visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.