Welcome to the Gulf Coast
Our area has been a back drop for Hollywood movie productions and film festivals as well an artistic and cultural epicenter. It is also no stranger to the cheering of thousands of sports fanatics as it plays host to fans and players alike at championship sports events. 
See more about our area events and find resource links below on our things to do page.
Then and Now
Manatee and Sarasota Counties are rich in history, heritage and culture. Each community is a strong representative of the pride we take in preserving the treasure we are so privileged to call home into a future of modern convenience.
Named after the manatee, or sea cow, Manatee County was created in 1855. It is made up of six communities, each with its’ own unique personality.  Separated by the Manatee river, Bradenton and Palmetto represent the largest of them. The four additional communities, include the barrier islands of Longboat Key, Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach
Stretching along the Manatee river Bradenton is the largest Principal City of the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. It has come a long way from its’ modest beginning that dates as far back as the 1840’s. It is home to over 50,000 residents as well as some well known household name businesses including Tropicana, (100 year relationship), Champs, Wellcraft and Beall’s Corporation.
Downtown offers tastes to suite every palette. The cobblestone streets of downtown are host to seasonal farmers markets, monthly “Get Down, Downtown” event and some of the best bars, shops and eateries this town can offer. During the week it is a bustling hive of activity as a base for government, industry, healthcare, the arts and seasonal sports events.
 Originally discovered by Hernando De Soto at Shaw's Point in 1539, Bradenton was known as The Village of Manatee.  
Dr. Joseph Braden, an industrial entrepreneur, physician and native Virginian, relocated from Tallahassee in the early 1840's and by 1850 had acquired approximately 900 acres of land where he built a steam operated sugar and grist mill. 
Its more recognized name “Bradenton” was established in 1943’ when the Florida legislature merged the cities of Manatee (incorporated in 1888) and Bradentown (incorporated in 1903).
1903 - Bradenton was incorporated as a city.
Received Electric Light Plant and Trolley Car – Christmas
Population 2,000.
1913 - Brick Courthouse erected on 12th St W. and Manatee Ave. (16 months construction)
1921 - Dr. & Mrs. Charles William Larrabee bought the Leonard Sanitarium which was converted into a hospital, (originally had only 18 beds, and would become the Bradenton General Hospital.
1925 - Bradentown voted to drop the “W” and became Bradenton.
Motto “The Friendly City” was adopted
Manatee River Hotel at was built with 285 rooms each having a personal bath.
            This hotel has seen many changes yet still has some mystique for vacationers and residents. Although history can not state the stories of the “Palace” to be fact, it is believed bootleggers brought liquor there during the height of Prohibition, Rita Hayworth and Babe Ruth sometimes partied there and Al Capone spent a night there.
1926 - Memorial Pier (in honor of WWI Veterans) was built as a loading dock for steamboats.
1937 -  The Art League of Manatee County was organized.
1953 - Manatee Memorial Hospital opened standing five stories and having 100 beds.
1976 - Manatee Village Historical Park in East Bradenton was created.
The City Leased the land for $1.00 which includes the 1860
Original County Courthouse and the 1887 United Methodist Church Building
1978 - New Manatee County Central Library opens
1979 - Old Carnegie Library building reopened as Manatee County Historical Records Library
1983 – “The” 65 acre “Sandpile” an area dredged from the Manatee River started with $400,000 worth of construction including the “Old Cabbage Head” locomotive.
1984 - The sale of Manatee Memorial Hospital marked the end of public hospital in Manatee County.
1985 - Manatee County Civic Center opened on the north bank of the
Manatee River near the DeSoto Bridge. New high-rise skyline for downtown Bradenton as new banking buildings opened.  Almost all banks changed their names and affiliations at least once from 1984-1987, as new banking laws allowed mergers.
1987 - Downtown buildings across from the courthouse torn down to make way for multistory County Government office building.
1989 - County Administration Building is completed
1990 - Tropicana moves into it’s new facility.
The city of Palmetto was incorporated in June 1893.
S.S. Lamb purchased this property on February 3, 1868.  The Lamb home, built by Juliann (Madam Joe) Atzeroth, who acquired the property in 1850, was originally used as a store by Madam Joe. It would become Palmetto's first public school. The first post office, established in1873 and the first shipping dock was built Joel Hendrix several years after he came here in 1871. The narrow-gauge Palmetto Terminal Railroad was built in 1895 to haul produce from farms northwest of town to the dock. The town's first three stores stood just east of Ninth Avenue on Riverside Drive. This is also the location of the county’s first bank, Manatee County State Bank, which was established in 1899 and was Palmetto's first brick building.
Anna Maria Island
Residents and visitors alike have chosen this gorgeous group of barrier islands for its unmatched sunsets and relaxed atmosphere.
This seven mile long island touched by he Gulf of Mexico on its western shore and Sarasota Bay and Anna Maria Bays on its eastern shore, is home to three cities, Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach
Ponce de Leon was said to have named the island lying just south of Tampa Bay for the queen of Charles II of Spain, the sponsor of his expedition.
The city of Anna Maria is found along the island’s northernmost shore. It’s original inhabitants were the Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes. In 1892 George Emerson Bean homesteaded the northern 160 acres of the island and became its first permanent resident. The first church on the island was built by George Roser, creator of the Fig Newton.
Holmes Beach, homesteaded in the late 1800s, was named after its developer Jack Holmes although Sam and Annie Cobb were its’ first actual residents.
Bradenton Beach was incorporated in 1953.  In 1921, a wooden bridge connected Anna Maria Island with the mainland. That bridge has since been replaced and the remaining structure is now known as the Bradenton Beach Fishing Pier.
Longboat Key a 12-mile long island split almost equally between Manatee and Sarasota counties. Homes on this island began development in the early 1900s and some of these homes remarkably still remain today.
For more great information about these communities please visit our area links page.
Cultural and artistic enthusiasts flock to our city to quench their thirst for entertainment. Whether attending performances at the Manatee Players Theatre featuring local talent, visiting the South Florida Museum and Parker Aquarium (aquarium added in 1995) where you’ll find our most famous resident, Snooty the Manatee who happens to be oldest living manatee in captivity, you’ll find no lack of community activities showcasing all that Bradenton has to offer.
The City of Bradenton’s Village of the Arts, was recently recognized as one of the Top 10 cities in the country for working artists by Art Calendar, a business magazine for visual artists. 50 once dilapidated houses have been transformed into studios, galleries, restaurants and other small businesses, mostly catering to the arts where artists can both live and work, earning the area a title as the largest arts district on the Gulf Coast.
If you happen to be a sports fan than this should be of great interest to you, the Pittsburg Pirates call, Bradenton‘s Pirate City home and use our McKechnie Field as the training ballpark for their athletes. It is the birthplace and home to some of the most incredible sports talent on the planet. Conveniently located just a short drive north of here you can catch many of the other sports events such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Raymond James Stadium), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (St, Pete Forum), The Tampa Bay Lightning (St. Pete Forum) and the Tampa Bay Storm (St, Pete Forum).
Famous Faces
Dick Vitale – Sports Commentator
Joe Shea - American Reporter founder and editor
Danielle White - the winner of American Juniors
Tennis (Residents) Max Mirnyi/Tommy Haas/Jelena Janković/Mary Pierce/Taylor Dent/Maria Sharapova (Attended high school in Bradenton)Peter Warrick/Tommie Frazier/Andre Agassi/Jim Courier/Monica Seles
Soccer (Attended the United States National Soccer Academy in Bradenton)Landon Donovan/Freddy Adu/DaMarcus Beasley/Bobby Convey/Jozy Altidore/Eddie Johnson
Baseball (Born in Bradenton) Lastings Milledge (Washington Nationals)
Golf Paul Azinger – Golf Professional
Tim Donaghy - NBA referee
Steven Tyler – Lead Singer for Aerosmith
We The Kings - Pop punk band from Bradenton and have written a song about it titled This Is Our Town.
Sarasota County was created in 1921.
Although the origin of the name is unknown there are two popular theories. Some believe it is named for a word in the indigenous Calusa language, whose meaning may be "point of rocks" or "Place of the Dance" while others believe it was named after Hernando de Soto's daughter Sara. According the Florida League of Cities the name first appeared in print on a 1763 land grant map as "Zarazote".
 Sarasota was incorporated as a town in 1902 and re-platted in 1912 and incorporated as a city in 1913.  After WWI the economic boom began. Those climbing the social ladder, desiring new jobs, and seeking investment opportunities made Sarasota a focal point for relocation swarming the area in droves.
Joseph Daniel Anderson was one of the first pioneers and early leaders in Sarasota. He homesteaded the land in the Mystic River Valley, brought agricultural industry producing vegetables, sugar cane and citrus and raised cattle and swine in the Myakka/Pinedale area.
Also attracted to this area were many of the Ringling brothers who would develop The Ringling Brothers Circus bringing performers and staff members that would in turn began to settle in Sarasota, establishing the Ringling Circus as part of the Sarasota community.
Charles and Edith Ringling built their bayfront mansion in the early 1920s.  This mansion is now known internationally as the Edith Ringling Estate and center of the campus of New College of Florida.
There is no shortage of cultural stimulus with in the Sarasota community. It is home of The Florida West Coast Symphony, Sarasota Ballet; Sarasota Opera; Florida Studio Theater and The Sarasota Players.
The Van Wezel bayfront performing arts hall brings national and international productions to the Sarasota area and the Asolo Theater located on the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art property provides a venue for students of Florida State University's theater arts and film program.
The Sarasota area is an incredibly popular golf destination that includes one golf course originally laid out for the hotel John Ringling planned to construct on Longboat Key’s southern tip.
Sarasota is home to Ed Smith Stadium, home to the minor league Sarasota Reds.  Before 1997, the city had a long association with the Chicago White Sox; (once known as the Sarasota White Sox) that predates the 1989 construction of Ed Smith Stadium.
For information about the history arts and events for this area please visit our Things To Do page.
Famous Faces
Chris Browne – Author/Cartoonist & Writer of Hagar the Horrible and Raising Duncan
Stephen King - Author
Audrey Landers, Judy Landers and Ruth Landers - Landers Productions
Mike Peters - Creator of Mother Goose and Grimm
Dick Smothers – American comedian, composer and musician
Jerry Springer – former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio; musician; television personality and controversial television tabloid talk show host
Adrienne Vittadini - Fashion designer
Nick - Tennis coach celebrity
Monica Seles - Professional women's tennis champion
Dickie Betts - The Allman Brothers Band
Brian Johnson – lead singer for AC/DC