Longboat Key, Florida
View of Millar bay and Sister Keys from a Longboat Keys residence
|o Town commissioner||7 Total|
|o Total||16.00 sq mi (41.44 km2)|
|o Land||4.13 sq mi (10.70 km2)|
|o Water||11.87 sq mi (30.74 km2)|
|Elevation||3 ft (1 m)|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||1,773.85/sq mi (684.86/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0286084|
Longboat Key is a town in Manatee and Sarasota counties along the central west coast of the U.S. state of Florida, located on and coterminous with the barrier island of the same name. Longboat Key is south of Anna Maria Island, between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is almost equally divided between Manatee and Sarasota counties. The town of Longboat Key was incorporated in 1955 and is part of the Bradenton–Sarasota–Venice Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town's population was 6,888 at the 2010 census, down from 7,603 at the 2000 census.
Longboat Key was originally inhabited by Native Americans. The area what is now Longboat Key was scouted by Juan de Añasco who was the first known European to explore the key and Hernando De Soto's scout. He spent about 2 months attempting to find a landing site and he was also most likely the first man to see and explore Sarasota Bay, Boca Ceiga Bay and the Manatee River. According to local legend, he believed the Indians were hostile. When the party reached land on the island, the Indians fled leaving their Longboat in a bayou. Pirate Jean Lafitte was said to have been shipwrecked near or on Longboat Key. For the next 304 years, the key was relatively undisturbed.
It is known that there were Cuban and Spanish fisherman, along with squatters, whom had made a camp and trading post on the northern part of the island before 1842. At the time, the area was referred to on maps as "Saraxola" and "Zarazote". There is little known about the island after 1848. It has been known that an early settler of Sarasota and its first post master, Charles Abbe, had a plantation for citrus and pineapples on an unknown location on the island.
In the late 19th-century, Longboat Key was opened up for settlement. Longboat Key had appeared to be inhabited by Colin and Rowlin W. Witt in 1882, who claimed 7.15 acres (2.89 ha) on the north end of the island. Thomas Mann, a notable settler, had purchased land and moved to it with his sons in 1884, receiving 144.5 acres (58 ha) on the key. He moved to the key permanently in 1888 with his family, and his house was located in the north end of the key.
A year after buying the land, the town was given the name Longbeach. With a passage being dug in 1895 from Sarasota Bay to Tampa Bay, steamships and paddle boats could access the island. Soon, a mail service was established that brought residents mail from Cortez. More land was sold in 1905 for $500 for commercial development. In the early 1900s, Longboat Key was a farming community. Longboat Key was very popular, mostly for growing fruits and tomatoes, with Byron Corey owning a farm which was on the New Pass on the southernmost point of the key. In 1912, The Sarasota Times headline read: "From a lonely Key, it is now a center of trucking and fruit growing."
In 1921, the key lost most of its agricultural land and buildings during a hurricane. There were no roads that led to the key until 1929 when a bridge was built to St. Armands, therefore most transportation was done with a ferry dock on the north end of the key. That same year, the island was split between two counties, Sarasota and Manatee. In 1925, on the south end of the key, John Ringling, a developer, built the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The hotel began construction in March 1926, never being completed and eventually, it was torn down. In 1936, for the first time, telephone service was brought to the South End of the island. By 1939 or 1940, service was brought to the North End. In World War II, Longboat Key housed a bombing range. In 1942, it was used by B-26 planes, and from 1943-1945 it was used by P-40 and P-51 planes. The island was used from 8 A.M to 5 P.M, closing during these training sessions.
On November 13, 1955, the town was incorporated by a 186-13 vote. At the time, only about a third of Longboat Key was developed and roughly 215 people lived on the key. When the town was incorporated, it changed its name from Longbeach to Longboat Key.
In the 1960s and 1970s the Arvida corporation purchased the south end of Longboat Key and developed it for $13.5 million.President Bush had arrived on Longboat Key on September 10, 2001, the day before the September 11 Attacks, to read to second graders in a campaign at the Emma E. Booker School in Sarasota. On November 14, 2015 the town of Longboat Key celebrated its 60-year anniversary.
The town of Longboat Key has a commission-manager form of government. The United States Postal Service operates a post office on Longboat Key, with the entire island having the ZIP code of 34228. The post office was established on October 10, 1907, as "Longbeach" and was located in the community of that name on the north end of the key. On February 1, 1958, the name of the Longbeach post office was changed to Longboat Key. There was also a post office named "Longboat" established on March 27, 1914, in the Sarasota County portion of the key, but it was discontinued on January 14, 1922, and its functions were assumed by the Sarasota post office. The quasi-governmental form of the Condominium Association exists in one of its most complex forms in and on Longboat Key, comprising the "Federation of Longboat Key Condominiums".
In addition to the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce, and in concert with the Town of Longboat Key, these entities have made Longboat Key an exemplar of local government and citizen cooperation in participation and management for communities of its type. Longboat Key is served by two newspapers published year-round, the Longboat Observer and the Longboat Key News In recent years, "federalizing" the Key by having the U.S. Congress create the "Longboat Key National Seashore" has been suggested. Currently Longboat Key is located within two Florida counties, Manatee County in the north and Sarasota County in the south, but there have been calls for the Florida Legislature to pursue an initiative to create a 68th county, "Longboat Key County," to simplify governance of the island. Neither of these initiatives is likely to be passed, however. As of February 2019, Longboat Key officials had not started any comprehensive effort to put Longboat in one county or the other. Officials did, however, ask state legislators to request the Florida Legislature's OPPAGA perform an analysis of the potential benefits and drawbacks of moving into only one county.
Longboat Key is located north of St. Armands Key, with its circle of shopping and dining, and Lido Key, and south of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria, which are located on adjacent Anna Maria Island. The nearby cities of Sarasota and Bradenton and the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport round out Longboat Key's varied list of geographic amenities. State Road 789 (Gulf of Mexico Drive) runs the length of the island, with ancillary boulevards branching off to residential neighborhoods. From some locations one can see both Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
At other points the island widens and accommodates various homes owned both singly and in condominiums, hotels, and sports clubs. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 16.0 square miles (41.4 km2), of which 4.1 square miles (10.7 km2) is land and 11.9 square miles (30.7 km2), or 74.19%, is water. Some Longboat Key residents are "snowbirds", who vacation on or own second homes on Longboat Key, and are present only during the winter months.
Others are homesteaders, utilizing the various homestead exemptions provided to Florida citizens who own and occupy their principal residences within the state, as set forth under the Florida Constitution. There are numerous restaurants on Longboat Key, Mar Vista, The Lazy Lobster, The Dry Dock, Pattigeorge's Restaurant, Chart House, the Longboat Key Club Restaurant, Euphemia Haye, Maison Blanche, Bayou Tavern, and Harry's. There are also full-service grocery stores, including Publix, and pharmacies, located centrally. Most of the Gulf side of Longboat Key comprises beaches. The southernmost area of the key is mostly part of the Longboat Key Club.
Much of the land area of Longboat Key is occupied by either single-family homes or condominium apartments. Most of the condominium associations co-own common elements which comprise pools, tennis courts, sites with water views and access to beaches. Almost the entire land area of Longboat Key is now occupied. The remaining older, singly owned houses are as much as 45 years old, annexed to comparatively small parcels, again an outgrowth of the ½ acre limitation on homestead property area within municipalities as set forth in the Florida Constitution. In the last few years, these properties have been purchased by new owners who sought to and did demolish them in order build small, ornate homes worth much more, many being valued to amounts on the order of as much as a few million dollars, a peculiar outgrowth of the unlimited-in-value homestead exemption for principal residences from forced sale provided to homesteaders under the Florida Constitution. This diverse mix of homes owned both singly and in condominium line the many cul-de-sacs and boulevards branching off main roads towards both the bay and the gulf, with the length of the island served by Gulf of Mexico Drive.
A perennial problem for Longboaters was water quantity and quality. Salinity and sedimentary factors threatened the availability of potable water to island residents, visitors, and businesses. This problem was alleviated sufficiently when the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District approved a connection to Sarasota County's water supply, augmenting the existing connection to that of Manatee County.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,603 people, 4,280 households, and 2,846 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,546.4 people per square mile (596.7/km²). There were 8,834 housing units at an average density of 1,796.8 per square mile (693.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 99.24% White, 0.07% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.01% from other races, and 0.16% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.67% of the population. There were 4,280 households out of which 3.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.3% were married couples living together, 1.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.78 and the average family size was 2.11. In the town, the population was spread out with 2.6% under the age of 18, 0.9% from 18 to 24, 5.7% from 25 to 44, 32.4% from 45 to 64, and 58.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 68 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males. The median income for a household in the town was $290,251, and the median income for a family was $307,983. Males had a median income of $261,157 versus $230,104 for females. The per capita income for the town was $280,963. About 0.4% of families and 0.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.9% of those under age 18 and 1.0% of those age 65 or over.
Notable current and former residents of Longboat Key include: