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Temple Terrace is an incorporated city in northeastern Hillsborough County, Florida, United States, adjacent to Tampa. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,541. It is the third and smallest incorporated municipality in Hillsborough County. (Tampa and Plant City are the others.) Incorporated in 1925, the community is known for its rolling landscape, bucolic Hillsborough River views, and majestic trees; it has the most grand sand live oak trees of any place in central Florida and is a Tree City USA. Temple Terrace was originally planned as a 1920s Mediterranean-Revival golf course community and is one of the first such communities in the United States (planned in 1920).
The city was named for the then-new hybrid, the Temple orange, also called the tangor. It is a cross between the mandarin orange also called the tangerine and the common sweet orange; it was named after Florida-born William Chase Temple, one-time owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, founder of the Temple Cup, and first president of the Florida Citrus Exchange. Temple Terrace was the first place in the United States where the new Temple orange was grown in large quantities. The "terrace" portion of the name refers to the terraced terrain of the area by the river where the city was founded. One of the original houses also had a terraced yard with a lawn sloping, in tiers, toward the river.
The original inhabitants of the Temple Terrace area were known as the Tocobaga, a group of Native Americans living around Tampa Bay, both in prehistoric and historic times, until roughly 1760. Their numbers declined in the seventeenth century, due at least in part to diseases brought to the New World by the Europeans, to which they had little natural resistance. All of the Florida tribes were also severely affected by the raids of Creeks and Yamasee during the late stages of the seventeenth century. In any case, the Tocobaga disappeared from history less than a hundred years later.
Spanish exploration of the Temple Terrace area dates back to 1757 when explorer Don Francisco Maria Celi of the Spanish Royal Fleet made his way up the Hillsborough River (naming it "El Rio de San Julian y Arriaga") to what is now Riverhills Park in search of pine trees to use as masts for his ships. Here, in the extensive longleaf pine forest, he erected a cross in what he named "El Pinal de la Cruz de Santa Teresa" (the Pine Forest of the Cross of Saint Theresa). Confirmation of the fleet's travels is found in its map and log book. A historic marker and a replica of the cross erected to honor St. Theresa is found in Riverhills Park today. Up to 1913, the longleaf pine, sand live oak, and cypress trees made the area suitable for turpentine manufacturing and logging.
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