‘Piece of Your City’: Bestselling author highlights hand-rolled cigars at Ybor City’s J.C. Newman Cigar Co.

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – An author looking to highlight the importance and uniqueness of craftsmanship across 60 American cities made a stop at an iconic Tampa location on Tuesday.

Daniel Seddiqui said he has always been curious about the country and would stare at maps as a kid, wondering what life was like in different parts of the United States.

He has authored four books on traveling the country in recent years, including a project in 2009 where he worked 50 different jobs in all 50 states.

His latest project is called “A Piece of Your City.” He describes it as a journey to craft a memento of every major city, which depicts the culture, industry and history of that location.

“So now I’m basically living the map. I get a chance to explore America in very unique endeavors and learn about the careers, culture and environments,” Seddiqui said.

He stopped by J.C. Newman Cigar Company in Ybor City to attempt to handroll his own cigar in the “Cigar City.”

J.C. Newman Cigar Co. is the country’s oldest family-owned cigar manufacturer, founded in 1895.

After a tour of the iconic company’s facilities, including where tobacco is humidified, Seddiqui successfully rolled three cigars with the help of the experts.

Prior to connecting with Visit Tampa Bay for his project, Seddiqui didn’t know the rich, long history of cigars in Ybor City. The Californian said when you travel, you do learn a lot.

“It was my first time ever touching a cigar in my life, but I’ll probably never smoke one. Yeah, the hands-on experience was pretty challenging. I would have to say frustrating, but again, it was my first time doing it and that’s what this project is all about,” he said. “Just kind of learning by doing and doing things that you may never have a chance to do otherwise when you travel.” 

Seddiqui wants to encourage other travelers to have these experiences in their own journeys, in addition to the fulfillment he feels knowing he’s “discovered American in ways that nobody else has.”

“I also want to inspire people to have these tangible, hands-on experiences when they travel, because I don’t want to just be somebody who just takes pictures of a statue or a water feature or hang out at the beach. I actually want to engage with what people actually do day-to-day and what they’re kind of known and familiar for in each place,” he said.

Tampa was Seddiqui’s 40th city to visit out of the 65 involved in the “Piece of Your City” project. His next stop is New Orleans, where he will be working on a Mardi Gras float and crafting masks for Fat Tuesday.

Seddiqui is working on his book as he completes his trips. He is hoping to wrap up traveling in January, and the book should be published in March.

Other cities and projects unique to them included in the book include graffiti art in Brooklyn, a model car in Detroit, a 3D architectural model in Chicago, the Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel, vinyl records in Cleveland, currency at the US Mint in Philadelphia and more.

You can follow along with Seddiqui on his “Living The Map” blog.

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