Tampa’s new Soulwalk trail will bring two dozen new art installations to the city

Two large statues. One figure is holding a stand up bass, and the other a guitar.

Visitors can experience nearly 100 public artworks and historic sites using a free digital guide and printed map of walking routes, and through a slate of events planned throughout the year.

In honor of Black History Month, Mayor Jane Castor will announce the official launch of Tampa Soulwalk, a new art and heritage trail that tells the rich history of Tampa’s Black communities and highlights the diverse, thriving creative community in present-day Tampa. Soulwalk spans approximately 46 miles and 25 neighborhoods, and currently includes nearly 100 stops that visitors can explore, such as:

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  • Scrub Houses: The two last remaining homes of the pioneering Black community that lived in the Scrub neighborhood after the Civil War.
  • Perry Harvey Sr. Park: Located along Historic Central Avenue, the park includes several dynamic artworks, including iconic gateway sculptures by James Simon and a history walk by Rufus Butler Seder.
  • Dozens of other public art installations, historic landmarks, museums, cemeteries, and more.
Tampa scrub houses. Tampa Housing Authority plans to revive the two homes and resurrect a dozen more affordable houses around them to return The Scrub to its proper place in Tampa.

Soulwalk seeks to create community in Tampa

The new trail and accompanying programming aim to strengthen Tampa neighborhoods and contribute to building communities through storytelling, public engagement, and documentation to foster a sense of shared history and connection.

“Tampa Soulwalk is an incredible opportunity for our community to come together and learn about the rich and diverse history of Tampa,” said Mayor Jane Castor. “It will not only bring to light the contributions and creative resiliency of our city’s Black communities, but also provide a platform for discussions about equity, inclusion, and cultural diversity. We are excited to share this trail with visitors and invite everyone to come explore and learn about the unique history that makes Tampa the vibrant and diverse city it is today.” 

Soulwalk is a collaborative initiative between the City of Tampa and several local and regional partners. Interpretive content about the Soulwalk sites was developed with historians from the Tampa Bay History Center, and two new essays were commissioned from professors at the University of South Florida to contextualize the trail. Partnering institutions include the Florida Humanities Council, Visit Tampa Bay, University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Hillsborough Community College, and Hillsborough County.  

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the longest standing, and most important African American churches in Tampa, is now a part of Soulwalk.

An educational trail filled with public art installations

“Soulwalk not only educates visitors about Tampa’s rich Black history, but also serves as a reminder that our past and present are intricately connected,” said Sherri Brown, Vice President of Multicultural Sales and Development at Visit Tampa Bay. β€œIt’s a vital tool in understanding the diversity and cultural richness of our city, and we are proud to support and showcase it to the world.”

“Soulwalk tells some of Tampa’s most uplifting stories,” said Cheryl R. Rodriguez, Professor of Africana Studies and Anthropology at the University of South Florida. “This history is a source of pride for everyone.”

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In 2023 and 2024, Tampa Soulwalk will feature more than two dozen new public art installations added to its route. On-site signage will be installed at each of the stops to provide visitors along the trail with additional content.

Future events related to Soulwalk will include a community cookbook, panels, talks, and workshops by artists and historians, and more. Community events and educational opportunities will take place throughout the year to announce new additions to the trail, raise awareness, and offer opportunities for community input as the trail develops. 

Bike, walk, or cruise the new Tampa Soulwalk

Visitors can traverse the trail on foot, bike, or by car and can access more information about each of the existing locations on the Soulwalk website. 

In addition, Bloomberg Philanthropies has developed a digital guide allowing visitors to experience Soulwalk onsite using Bloomberg Connects, their free arts and culture app.

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