No Fleas in Sight

The Indie Flea market, a classy event with an ironic name, seems to draw all the beautiful young people in Tampa to the Armature Works every third Sunday of the month. So the OLLI Shutterbugs went to check it out in May.

Dozens of friendly, mostly young, artisan sellers of handmade clothes and jewelry, soaps, plants, greeting cards, cookies, gelato and other wares stood and sat at rows of stalls, some of them unable to keep from dancing to the pervasive beat of piped-in music. They were well outnumbered by the even younger, upbeat crowd, with the occasional baby and dog, that filled the aisles. You have to love crowds to come here, and for photographers who like to take candid shots of people, what better way to spend a summery afternoon? And, of course, it’s air-conditioned.

Decorative lightbulb at the Armature Works. Photo by Jaime Bonilla

The Armature Works, just east of the Hillsborough River, is an important part of the redeveloped area of Tampa, whose main avenue is the Riverwalk. It was built in 1910 and for decades, when it was the repair and storage center of the Tampa Electric Street and Railway Company (now TECO), was known as the Streetcar Barn. Then, alas, after World War II, cheerful, emission-free streetcars all over America yielded to fumy buses, whose lobby made sure the tracks were buried in tar and could not come back to life.

From 1946 to 1960, when the Tampa Armature Works, maker of phosphate machinery, bought the building from TECO, it remained idle. Then, years after the manufacturer departed, the building was stripped down to its shell and repurposed.

If ever a building had good bones, this is it, and today, with its exposed brick walls, tall windows and skylights, it houses a public market, event spaces and restaurants and bars. Judge for yourself from the pictures whether Tampa is enjoying it.

Jaime Bonilla




Rich Edwards





Shelly Belzer





The OLLI Shutterbugs are an OLLI Shared Interest Group or “SIG”.  They take frequent local excursions and return with wonderful photos.  Here’s who provided material for this article.

Jaime Bonilla is a physician specializing in diagnostic radiology, who retired from the Air Force and Veteran Affairs Hospitals. He has been an OLLI member for four years.  He took the photo of the “decorative lightbulb” inserted into the opening text.

Rich Edwards is a retired high school teacher from New York, who enjoys photography, golf and motorcycling. He taught English and journalism, and in night school he taught photography and darkroom techniques.

Shelly Belzer, a retired New York Times editor, has been a member of OLLI-USF since 2012. In addition to leading the Shutterbugs SIG, he is a founding member of the OLLI Hikers SIG. He has taken courses on art, poetry, China, Spanish and Hillsborough County’s wild lands.

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