As I was driving down Bearrs Avenue today I thought of a conversation I had with a co-worker about 15 years ago. She told me I was saying the name wrong, that almost everyone did. It’s not pronounced Bears like the animal but Bearrs which sounds like Pierce. The road is named after the founder of Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church (which was actually called the United Brethren Church when founded back in 1894). The family had a major impact on the social and economic development of north Tampa and was honored by naming the road after him. (I bet it helped that his family donated part of the land for the road)
What about Dale Mabry, was there actually a person Dale Mabry Highway is named after? Yes there was! Dale Mabry was a Florida native who became a WWI naval aviator. He died while test piloting an airship in Norfolk Virginia in a crash that was known as the greatest disaster in American aeronautics at the time.
Bruce B. Downs Boulevard sounds like it was named after a person, but who was Bruce B. Downs? He worked for FDOT as the head of traffic operations and designed traffic layouts, signals, signage and flow for 14 counties. He then became Hillsborough County’s Director of Public Works and Safety. A newspaper article was written about him in 1983 stating his job was one of the most stressful in the county at the time. He died of a massive heart attack the very afternoon the article was published at the age of 53. In 1986 3oth Street was renamed after him. The road wasn’t very busy back in 1983 but has become a busy main road in New Tampa today.
The next time you are driving down one of these Tampa streets you will know where it’s name came from. There are so many other street names to investigate, but that will have to wait for another day!
Kelly Harden, Realtor
Mihara & Associates, Inc.