Sarasota is an American city that is situated on the southwestern coast of the state of Florida. It covers an area of almost twenty-six square miles and has a population of fifty-three thousand residents. The borders of the city extend to Sarasota Bay and several islands located between this bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The barrier islands are known as the Florida Keys and include Siesta Key, St. Armands Key, Bird Key, Coon Key, Otter Key and Lido Key. These two keys are known around the world for their scenic beauty, as well as their fine beaches. Sarasota can trace its roots to European settlers which explored the area in the sixteenth century. In 1513, a Spanish expedition arrived at Charlotte Harbor, which lies just south of Sarasota. This first visit was greeted with hostility by the native population and a permanent colony wouldn’t be established until some years later.
By the eighteenth century, however, there was a thriving colony established on what is now modern Sarasota. It was called Zara Zote and had numerous fishing ports. These ports developed healthy trade between themselves and merchants in Havana. For the next hundred years, Florida changed hands several times between the British and the Spanish until it was acquired as a possession of the United States in 1819. Several key events took place after the state became a possession of the U.S. These include the construction of an army fort in 1840, and the inclusion of Florida as a state in 1845. The fort gave the U.S. military the tactical advantage it needed to drive the remaining Seminole tribes out of the area of Sarasota and into the swamps, which would eventually lead to their forced march to Oklahoma. This set the stage for further European settlement of the area. This was officially started with the Armed Occupation Act passed by Congress in 1842.
All throughout the 1840s, European settlers arrived to the city in ernest. When the European influence began to dominate the Spanish influence, the Spanish name of Zara Zote was Anglicized into Sara Sota and eventually Sarasota. European settlement continued throughout the nineteenth century and in 1902 Sarasota was incorporated into a township. By 1913, the population had reached a sufficient number to reincorporate it as a city. This incorporation also included an extensive replanning of the city structure.
During the 1920s, the city hired a professional planner, John Nolan, to design the downtown of the city. He developed a plan which aligned the streets to follow the arch of the bay front and a grid that extended north to south. This plan was followed for almost forty years, until the city abandoned it to increase travel speeds on Tamiami Trail. This resulted in the demolition of city hall and a redirection of the route past the bay front, effectively severing the residents from the waterfront. Today, the city is devising a plan to make the streets more pedestrian friendly. These plans include the possible addition of roundabouts and bicycle designated paths.
Though Sarasota had lost a significant amount of historic building to urban development, the city still has numerous historic attractions and museums to lure visitors into the city. A popular attraction in the city is the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a museum that was founded in 1927 and is an official art museum for the state of Florida. It has over twenty galleries of European, Asian and American contemporary art.
It have over ten thousand objects that include sculptures, paintings, prints, pictures, drawings and decorative arts. This museum contains art that goes from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries and features works by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Wright of Derby, Cranach the Elder, Gainesborough and Marrioto di Cione. At the beginning of the year 2007, an extensive renovation and expansion of the museum was undertaken. The expansion added over one hundred and fifty thousand square feet to the campus. The renovation saw the restoration of key buildings such as the Ringlings’ mansion, circus museum, Cà d’Zan and the Asolo Theater.
Another popular attraction in the city of Sarasota is the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a not for profit research and educational facility. It was founded in 1955 in honor of William R. Mote. This institution focuses on marine life research, education and marine mammal rescue. The aquarium features all manner of Florida fish and wildlife including sharks, manatees, dolphins and sea turtles. Also on display here is the intact body of a giant squid affectionately known as Molly Mollusk. A popular feature of the facility is the ‘Breakfast at Mote’ program. This allows small groups of visitors to take a tour of the facility before their doors open and even enjoy a continental breakfast.
This is a great way for visitors to get unobstructed pictures of the fish and enjoy a relaxing morning tour. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium also rents out parts of its facilities as venues for birthday parties, gatherings and other special events. The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is good, clean fun for the entire family and they are open three hundred and sixty-five days a year.