Sarasota

Sarasota

About Sarasota

Sarasota is a city located in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the U.S. state of Florida. The area is renowned for its cultural and environmental amenities, beaches, resorts, connections to the Ringling family, and its ‘school’ of architecture. It is south of the Tampa Bay Area and north of Fort Myers. Its current official limits include Sarasota Bay and several barrier islands between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012 Sarasota had a population of 52,211. In 1986 it became designated as a certified local government. Sarasota is a principal city of the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is theseat of Sarasota County.

It is among the communities included in a two-county federally mandated Metropolitan Planning Organization that includes all of Sarasota and Manatee counties and the chairs of the three elements of that organization belong to the eight-county regional planning organization for western central Florida.

The islands separating Sarasota Bay from the gulf near the city, known as keys, include Lido Key and Siesta Key, which are famous worldwide for the quality of their sandy beaches. The keys that are included in the boundary of Sarasota are Lido Key,St. Armands Key, Otter Key, Coon Key, Bird Key, and portions ofSiesta Key. Previously, Siesta Key was named Sarasota Key. At one time, it and all of Longboat Key were considered part of Sarasota and confusing contemporaneous references may be found discussing them.

Longboat Key is the largest key separating the bay from the gulf, but it is now evenly divided by the new county line of 1921. The portion of the key that parallels the Sarasota city boundary that extends to that new county line along the bay front of the mainland was removed from the city boundaries at the request of John Ringling in the mid-1920’s, who sought to avoid city taxation of his planned developments at the southern tip of the key. Although they never were completed in the quickly faltering economy, those development concessions granted by the city never were reversed and the county has retained regulation of those lands ever since.

The city limits had expanded significantly with the real estate rush of the early twentieth century, reaching almost 70 square miles. The wild speculation boom began to crash in 1926 and following that, the city limits began to contract, shrinking to less than a quarter of that area.

Early History of Sarasota

Europeans first explored the area in the early sixteenth century. The first recorded contact was in 1513, when a Spanish expedition landed at Charlotte Harbor, just to the south. Spanish was used by the natives during some of the initial encounters, providing evidence of earlier contacts.

Having been identified on maps by the mid-eighteenth century as Zara Zote, perhaps from an indigenous name, the sheltered bay and its harbor attracted fish and marine traders. Soon there were fishing camps, called ranchos, along the bay that were established by both Americans and Cubans who traded fish and turtles with merchants in Havana. Florida changed hands between the Spanish, the English, and then the Spanish again.

After the 1819 acquisition of Florida as a territory by the United States and five years before it became a state in 1845, the army established Fort Armistead in Sarasota along the bay.

The fort is thought to have been located in the Indian Beach area, and research continues there. The army established the fort at a rancho operated by Louis Pacheco, an African slave working for his Cuban-American owner. Drawings of the fort give a clue to the location as well, showing a significant landmark point that still exists at Indian Beach. Shortly before the fort was abandoned because of severe epidemics, the chiefs of the Seminole Indians gathered to discuss their impending forced march to the Oklahoma Territory. These were Native Americans who had moved into Florida during the Spanish occupation. Most of the indigenous natives of Florida, such as the Tocobagaand the Caloosa, had perished from epidemics carried by the Spanish. They mostly had maintained permanent settlements that were used from late fall through spring, moving to settlements farther north during the summer.

Soon the remaining Seminole Indians were forced south into the Big Cypress Swamp and in 1842 the lands in Sarasota, which then were held by the federal government, were among those opened to private ownership by those of European descent via the Armed Occupation Act passed by the Congress of the United States. Even Louis Pacheco was deported with the Indians to Oklahoma.

Sarasota Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 52,715 people, 23,427 households, and 12,064 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,539.8 per square mile (1,366.9/km²). There were 26,898 housing units at an average density of 1,806.2 per square mile (697.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.91% White, 16.02%African American, 0.35% Native American, 1.02% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 3.74% from other races, and 1.91% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.92% of the population.

There were 23,427 households out of which 19.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female head of household with no husband present, and 48.5% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the city the population was spread out with 18.4% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 22.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.8 males.

The per capita income for residents of the city was $23,197. Females had a median income of $23,510 versus $26,604 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,077 and the median income for a family was $40,398. About 12.4% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.5% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

From 2005-2007, Sarasota County had a total population of 368,000 – 192,000 (52 percent) females and 176,000 (48 percent) males. The median age was 49.7 years. Seventeen percent of the population was under 18 years and 30 percent was 65 years and older.

The Age Distribution of People in Sarasota County, Florida in 2005-2007 65 and over 30% 45 to 64 27% 25 to 44 21% 18 to 24 6% Under 18 17% Percent of population For people reporting one race alone, 92 percent was White; 4 percent was Black or African American; less than 0.5 percent was American Indian and Alaska Native; 1 percent was Asian; less than 0.5 percent was Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 2 percent was Some other race. One percent reported two or more races. Seven percent of the people in Sarasota County was Hispanic. Eighty-seven percent of the people in Sarasota County was White non-Hispanic. People of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

The per capita income for the county was $28,326 and females had a median income of $25,721 versus $32,114 for males.

The median income of households in Sarasota County was $49,030. Sixty-three percent of the households received earnings and 28 percent received retirement income other than Social Security. Forty-five percent of the households received Social Security. The average income from Social Security was $16,654. These income sources are not mutually exclusive; that is, some households received income from more than one source.

In 2010 Sarasota had a population of 51,917. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 65.6% non-Hispanic white, 15.1% black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.3% Asian Indian, 1.0% other Asian, 0.2% non-Hispanic reporting some other race, 2.3% reporting two or more races and 16.6% Hispanic or Latino.

Architecture in Sarasota

Italian architecture and culture is quite strong in the area because of the Ringling Museum. An unusually large number of homes and buildings are designed in the Italian style, especially Venetian as influenced by Ringling’s Cà d’Zan. Italian inspired statues are also common and Michelangelo’s David is used as the symbol of Sarasota.

Sarasota Economy

Companies based in Sarasota include the Boar’s Head Provision Company. Major employers include the Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, APAC Customer Services, The Zenith and Capgemini.

Sports and Recreation in Sarasota

The warm climate helped the Sarasota area become a popular golf destination, a sport brought to America by the Scots. One of them was John Hamilton Gillespie, an early pioneer of the game in Sarasota. The Sara Bay course in the Whitfield area was designed by golf architect Donald Ross. Bobby Jones was associated with the community course in Sarasota. Many courses dot the area, including the one originally laid out for the hotel John Ringling planned on the southern tip of Longboat Key.

Sport fishing attracted enthusiasts to Sarasota and the area because of the amazing bounty of the bay and it was one of the earliest attractions drawing the wealthy as well as the adventurous. Tarpon was the biggest draw, but gigantic gar as well as many other species abounded to attract people such as Owen Burns to Powel Crosley. The first settled permanently and became one of the most important developers of Sarasota and the second, who more typically, built a winter retreat here and participated in the sport via the clubs, organizations, and tournaments focused on fishing.

In 1937 the Municipal Auditorium-Recreation Club was built with funds provided by the Works Progress Administration, the municipal government, and local residents and business owners. It became a center for sports, entertainment, and recreation. The sports activities have ranged from badminton, basketball, boating, lawn bowling, and shuffleboard, to tennis. The auditorium hosts clubs for cards, dancing, games, gardening, and numerous hobbies as well as having become the community meeting place for commercial and educational shows and the venue for local schools and charities to hold events and dances. Tourists are attracted to exhibitions provided by local businesses as well as vendors from national circuits. This building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places because of its architecture and for providing the enormous range of community activities that are scheduled at it every week.

Sarasota also is home to Ed Smith Stadium, where the Baltimore Orioles currently have [spring training]. The Orioles also have minor league facilities at Twin Lakes Park. The agreement with the Orioles also places a Cal Ripken Youth Baseball Academy in Sarasota. Previously, Ed Smith Stadium was the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds and the minor league Sarasota Reds. In 2010, Ed Smith Stadium and Twin Lakes Park underwent major upgrades.

The Sarasota Marathon started in 2005. In 2010, declining sponsorship and marathon registration led organizers to change the event to a half marathon. The race begins and ends near the John and Mable Ringling Museum.

Sarasota is home to two swim teams. The most well-known, the Sarasota Sharks, have been around for many years and have won numerous national championships. The newer team, the Sarasota Tsunami, was founded by the former Sharks head coach. The teams maintain a rivalry.

The Sarasota Sailing Squadron is a highly active facility that has hosted many nationally renowned regattas for both dinghies and larger vessels.

In 2013, Sarasota became the home of the Sarasota Thunder, which was to play in the Ultimate Indoor Football League, but the team folded.

In 2014, Sarasota will play host to the modern pentathlon World Cup Final.

Benderson Park in Sarasota has been recommended as the venue for the World Rowing Championships in 2017.

Sarasota is home of the Whiskey Obsession Festival, the largest whisk(e)y festival in Florida. Established in 2013, the festival features several hundred whiskies from around the world. Dozens of professional brand ambassadors and distillers participate in the festival by participating in a panel discussion, leading classes and tastings. The event occurs at Michael’s on East; the dates of the 2014 festival are March 27 and 28, 2014.

 

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