“Sarasota is clearly the cultural mecca of Florida, there are few communities in the nation that have the depth and quality of arts and cultural offerings that are found here.”
Sarasota is a city 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, and the Sarasota School of Architecture. The city is at the southern end of the Tampa Bay Area, north of Fort Myers and Punta Gorda. Its 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 2016 Sarasota had a population of 56,610.
In 1986 it became designated as a certified local government. Sarasota is a principal city of the Sarasota metropolitan area, and is the seat of Sarasota County.
The city limits had expanded significantly with the real estate rush of the early twentieth century, reaching almost 70 square miles (180 km2). 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.
Ask anyone to describe life in Sarasota and it’s likely you’ll hear “arts and culture” in their very first sentence. Beyond being known for beaches, Sarasota is a community rich in arts with live theater, concerts, ballet, opera, galleries, museums and even, the circus!
American Style Magazine named Sarasota as the No. 1 “Small City for Art in the United States” while NerdWallet has listed Sarasota in the “Best Small Cities for Art Lovers“. Movoto has named Sarasota among “The Best Cities in Florida for the Arts“.
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 of Siesta 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.
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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-1920s, 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.