Why do they call it that? Palma Ceia | News
It sounds peaceful. It sounds beautiful. But it's all a sham. There's a surprising story behind one of South Tampa's oldest neighborhoods.
Why do they call it Palma Ceia?
The poetic name and quiet brick streets of this South Tampa neighborhood stir images of a simple Spanish paradise -- and a guy named Tom.
"It must be Spanish, or it must be -- something. It must mean something. And it doesn't mean anything, unfortunately," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center.
Ceia sort of means "heavenly." And Palma is...
"Linguistics people have been asked, and said, 'No, there's nothing in Portuguese or Spanish for Palma,'" Kite-Powell explained.
"The real story -- as least best as anybody has been able to establish -- is Palma Ceia was named by the developer, a guy named Tom Palmer, who wanted a kind of Spanish exotic-sounding name for his development.
"And so he used his last name, Palmer, changed it to Palma. And Ceia, such a great word, and Terra Ceia and those different areas had been around. So, he called it Palma Ceia."
What's with all of the Spanish-sounding street names in Palma Ceia?
It appears they were imported, along with the neighborhood's name, to give the area an exotic air.
San Miguel, Barcelona, Empedrado -- what do they have in common?
"All the street names in the original development of Palma Ceia are street names that are based on streets in old Havana, in Cuba," Kite-Powell said.
That's right. Concordia, Esperanza, and many others have duplicates in Havana. Even Neptune Street is based on Neptuno in Havana.
Check any mapa de La Habana, and you'll find the origins of several of Tampa's streets spread out across the old Cuban city.
Why do they call it that? Now you know.
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