The Frugalista Life

The RealTampa IG page explores unknown and forgotten moments of the 813rd

I’ve been following the RealTampa IG page for a few months now and it’s crazy how much about Tampa I didn’t know. Robert and I send posts all day every day, cracking up at some of the foolishness that comes out of the city. When you look at RealTampa, it’s like taking a step back in time. There’s photos ranging from old historical photos to (possibly) folks’ parent’s high school photos. The interesting thing is you’d think followers are submitting the photos but the photos are found after extensive research.

RealTampa page owner John Bias started posting in 2013. makes the IG equal parts hilarious and educational.

Why did you want to start a page of Tampa nostalgia? Where do you find the the old photos and videos?

I started the page because every time I’d see someone post about Tampa history, they wouldn’t post the things I grew up seeing or post things removed through urban renewal. I had friends from Miami, DC, and Philly who’d make fun of Tampa so I had to let them know the history and research. I’ve been taking pictures of Tampa since 2002 so it was nothing to start. I was already making RealTampa behind the scenes so it wasn’t hard to piece it together and put it out. When I first did it, people didn’t really care so I kept changing it so when people try to tell me stuff, I already did it. I’ve changed it 5 times before now and I’m switching it again.

I really want to make it for the whole part of Tampa but highlight the Black areas because they never got the love. I put a lot of research into areas and found pictures.  I get my pictures from several places like yearbooks or newspapers. I really have to search all over the internet or talk to people from other cities and have pictures of Tampa. I try to find the stuff other people can’t find.

When did you start the IG page? Are you learning more about the city through your posts like everyone else?

I started it in 2013. I learn a little bit though some of the posts on my page. I’ll watch news from 20 years ago, read newspapers from a century ago. I try to share as much Black history in Tampa we don’t know about.

What’s the craziest story someone has told you about your posts?

Those stories happen everyday with people telling me about a post involving a family member. Most times it’s messages like ‘How did you get this picture? We don’t even have it’. I have videos and I found one of someone’s father on COPS in the early 90s. It’s a classic Tampa video. I have stories upon stories. It’s nothing for me to research. If I stop, someone is going to start doing what I do.

I post what I want to see. If I want to see the projects, I’ll post the projects. I know it’s some stuff the city has that I don’t have. At the end of the day, I just try to get the pictures out so we can have them and remember the moments.

How does it feel to have one of the most popular Tampa-related pages?

It’s funny because some people think there’s more than one person running the page but it’s just me. It’s cool but I’d paid; you’re not really making money so I need to try and make merchandise. It feels good because I always wanted to talk to my community and show them the projects. It’s plenty of people who grew up there that would love to see those pictures again. It makes more sense for me to do it for them.

You can find RealTampa online on Facebook and Instagram. Donate to his Cashapp ($realtpa) and Venmo (RealTampa) so he can develop the IG page more. His mom is in search of a kidney at the moment so contact him through the RealTampa page for more information.