By Mike Miller Updated January 5, 2023
Bradenton, Florida is located on US-41 between Tampa and Sarasota. It can also be entered from I-75 by exiting west on State Road 64, or by US-301 coming in from the north.
It is a short drive from the southern end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that crosses Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg.
The city has a population of about 59,000, making it the 48th largest city in the State of Florida.
The Bradenton area has a rich history that includes the Native American tribes that occupied the shore thousands of years ago.
Shaw's Point near Bradenton was discovered in 1539 by Hernando De Soto on one of his voyages to the New World.
The first town in the area was the Town of Manatee, incorporated in 1888.
Bradentown was incorporated in 1903.
It was named for Dr. Joseph Braden whose fortress-like house had been a refuge for settlers during Indian attacks.
Dr. Braden had moved to the area from Virginia in the 1840s and established a large sugar plantation worked by slaves.
The economy of the early Bradenton area was based on agriculture including sugar and commercial fishing.
The modern city of Bradenton was formed in 1943, when the town of Manatee merged with Bradentown.
The name of the new town became Bradenton, along with its new spelling.
Bradenton, Florida is surrounded by water, both fresh and salt.
It is the access point for more than 20 miles of beautiful Southwest Florida beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.
Bradenton is located on the mainland on the south bank of the Manatee River, and is separated from the outer barrier island beaches by the Intracoastal Waterway.
These island beaches include Anna Maria Island with the small cities of Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach, and Longboat Key south of Anna Maria Island.
Old downtown Bradenton is located on the west side of the city.
Most of the office and government buildings in the county are located downtown.
The tallest buildings in town are the 12 story Bradenton Financial Center and the new 9 story Manatee County Judicial Center.
The new judicial center is right next to the historic Manatee County courthouse built in 1913 and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bradenton's downtown area is delightful and loaded with museums, historic buildings, fine dining restaurants and shops. It is a compact area, and everything is within an easy walk.
The large downtown marina is the center for many water oriented activities including sailing and jet skiing.
Just south of downtown is Bradenton's Village of the Arts.
This is a neighborhood district with special zoning that allows residents to live and work in their homes. The village has some unique art galleries.
The creative zoning paid off. About 50 once rundown houses have been converted into studios, galleries, restaurants and other small businesses.
Many of the small buildings are painted in beautiful bright colors reflecting every shade of the rainbow.
The Village of The Arts has attracted national recognition because of its innovative approach.
Bradenton was recently recognized as one of the Top 10 cities in the country for working artists. This award was made by Art Calendar, a well known business magazine for visual artists.
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
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