Rumor has it that when the first settlers arrived on the north shore of the Alafia River, the weary travelers were so astonished and overcome by the sight that they exclaimed—almost in unison— “What a view of the river!” However, unbeknownst to this intrepid group, some 50-plus years earlier, another group of settlers had arrived on the south banks of the river in an area known as Peru [pronounced “Pe-Roo,” the indigenous word for “straight part of the river”]—which is one of the oldest settlements in central Florida. Anyway … All was well for nearly a hundred years with the southside denizens of the river until the1940s when the northerners, having long ago designated their area as Riverview [pronounced “River Vyu,” the settler words for “river view”], wanted to expand their territory. Fearing another, yet somewhat localized civil war between north and south factions, the two groups agreed to play a best-of-five “Rock-Paper-Scissors” series to determine whether the southern citizens would retain ownership of Peru, or accede to the wishes of the northerners. The invading hordes won ownership by a score of 3-to-1. And so, it came to pass that Riverview absorbed the area of Peru, and control of the Alafia shores. More importantly, a civil war was, in all likelihood, averted. This is, of course, according to historical conjecture …
Perhaps of interest is this little nugget: The Alafia River was noted early for its large concentration of phosphorous on its river bottom, and was appropriately named [the word Alafia translated to “river of fire”] because this concentration resulted in the river glowing at night—which must have been a really eerie site to behold. A mining industry was created to mine phosphate from the Alafia. The Peruvian Mining Company took its name from the early Peru settlement.
Riverview is an unincorporated census-designated place (CDP) located southeast of the center of Hillsborough County, and south of Brandon. Its name came into usage around the same time as the wicked attack on those southern bank dwellers. For no apparent reason, the post office moved from the north side of the river to its south, and then back, which caused a lot of tension, as one can just imagine. The post office finally settled for good on the north side and resolved the whole naming-thing, and—to no one’s surprise—Peru disappeared from all but the earliest maps.
Riverview has seen a dynamic growth in population since the 1970 census when the number of residents was a very modest 2,225. By the latest census statistics, the population had mushroomed to 71,050 residents. Given the technology explosion of the mid- to late-20th century, perhaps the attraction to Riverview was spurred on, in part, by the lure of clearer radio and television reception from the growth of an antenna farm located on Boyette Road southeast of the community that hosted many of Tampa Bay’s radio and television station broadcasts. (Imagine a grizzled old farmer planting the tiny seeds of technology across his barren acreage ala a latter day Johnny Appleseed—and then watching the area sprout and grow those antennas!) In addition, Riverview is also home to Bell Creek Nature Preserve. In all, the Riverview CDP has a total of 48 square miles, of which just over 46 encompass land.
Interstate 75 serves as the western edge of the Riverview CDP, with four exits accessible over a 10-mile stretch. US301 runs parallel to I-75 through the original settlement at the Alafia River. Downtown Tampa is 12 miles northeast of Riverview via US301 and the Selmon Expressway.
Of course, with the rapid growth it has witnessed over the last 40-plus years, Riverview has responded with a construction boon that has seen a plethora of new developments spring to life, with a convenient selection of shopping, entertainment, housing, and school options for interested home shoppers.
Riverview is a thriving area steeped in a rich history that coexists peaceably today with its vibrant growth—which is an obvious testimony to the profound effect that a rousing series of “Rock-Paper-Scissors” can have in the preservation of a community.
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