Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island

About the Community of Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island, sometimes called Anna Maria Key, is a barrier island on the coast of Manatee County, Florida in the United States. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf of Mexico, on the south by Longboat Pass (which separates it from Longboat Key), on the east by Anna Maria Sound, and on the north by Tampa Bay. Anna Maria Island is approximately seven miles long north to south. Anna Maria Island is at latitude 27.513N, longitude -82.719W. A nautical chart of the island and surrounding waters may be seen athttp://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/11425.shtml

Background Information

Anna Maria Island was discovered by the local Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes and, later, by Spanish explorers (including Hernando de Soto) in the name of the Spanish Crown. Hernando de Soto and his crew entered the mouth of Tampa Bay, north of Anna Maria Island, in May, 1539, passing it by to make their landfall on the mainland.

In 1892, George Emerson Bean became the first permanent resident on the Island, homesteading much of what is now the City of Anna Maria. After Bean’s death in 1898, the land’s ownership transferred to his son, George Wilhelm Bean, who partnered with Charles Roser, a wealthy real estate developer from St. Petersburg, to form the Anna Maria Beach Company in order to develop the area. The company laid out streets, built sidewalks and houses, and installed a water system.

Transportation

The main north-south road on the island is Gulf Drive, which begins on the south end of the island at the foot of the Longboat Pass Bridge from Longboat Key. Gulf Drive is the only road that runs the entire length of the island. It isState Road 789 south of Manatee Avenue in Holmes Beach and County Road 789 north of there.

There are two bridges across Sarasota Bay from the mainland: the Cortez Bridge, which brings State Road 684 into Bradenton Beach from Cortez, and the Manatee Avenue Bridge, which brings State Road 64 into Holmes Beach from the Palma Sola section of Bradenton.

Anna Maria Island is served by a free trolley-style bus that runs north and south on Gulf Drive. The trolley connects with both the MCAT (Manatee County Area Transit) system serving the greater Bradenton area, and the SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) system. The MCAT connects to the trolley at Manatee Public Beach, at the intersection of State Road 789 and State Road 64. The SCAT connects to the trolley at Coquina Beach, at the south end of Anna Maria Island, just before the Longboat Key Bridge. Several local taxi companies serve Anna Maria Island.

Anna Maria Island was only accessible by boat until 1921, when the wooden Cortez Bridge was constructed from the fishing village of Cortez to what is now Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. The remaining parts of the Cortez Bridge are used as a fishing pier.

Tourism

With its white sandy beaches and warm temperatures, for many years Anna Maria Island was considered a “hidden gem,” the sleepy island providing a rare slice of “Old Florida.” In the past decade, tourism development has been targeted as a key economic goal by island, county and state officials and millions of tax dollars have been invested to draw visitors to the island with national and international advertising and publicity efforts. This success has not been without its downsides of congested traffic, noise, litter and parking complaints during peak tourist seasons. This influx of visitors has prompted developers to shift many of the original 1950s- and ’60-era houses into large multi-family rental units, a subject of local controversy.

Wildlife

From May through October in Florida, sea turtles come ashore to nest. Anna Maria Island is one of the many places in Florida that sea turtles nest on the beaches.[12] Protection of the sea turtles is an important aspect of the island culture, and information and training is available for tourists and locals. The entire island is a bird sanctuary, and pelicans, multiple types of cranes and herons, wild parrots, sand pipers, hawks, vultures, seagulls, and crows share the island with humans. Bottlenose dolphins can be observed both in the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf.

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