Sarasota, is the county seat of Sarasota County found in Florida’s west-central region. The city is situated approximately 60 miles to the south of Tampa, along the Sarasota Bay, which is a Gulf of Mexico’s arm. Over the years, Sarasota has acquired an array of spellings, including Sara Zota, Sarasote, and Sarazota. While the place-name’s origin is uncertain, it is believed that the name could have been derived from a Spanish word meaning ‘A place of dancing’. This region showed upon the maps in the early 1700s.
The first settlers in the area got here in 1856 and went ahead to plant orange trees. In 1884, Scottish settlers arrived, and in 1886, they constructed the region’s first golf course. In 1902, with the arrival of the railroad, the tourism industry started thriving. In 1910, a Chicago base socialite by the name Bertha Palmer, established a cattle ranch and citrus farm, a move that contributed to popularization of the region.
The backbone of the economy in Sarasota was tourism. Other significant pillars of the economy included shipping of citrus produce, software development, and manufacturing of wood products, hydraulic valves, magnetic sensors, electronics, machine parts, as well as aviation equipment. The regions institutions of higher learning include the University of South Florida’s Sarasota’s Campus, the Ringling School of Art & Design, and the University of Sarasota.
Today, Sarasota is famous for iconic sites such as John & Marble Ringling Museum of Art, which features an art museum as well as an incredible collection of Baroque art work from the likes of Peter Paul Reubens; Asolo Theatre, (it was purchased in 1790 from Italy’s Venice then reassembled by Florida). Other important landmarks include the Ca’ d’Zan, John Ringling’s lavish home that was completed in 1926, alongside the Circus Museum. Asolo Theatre Festival, which was performed in partnership with the Florida State Univerisity, once took place on the Asolo. Today, it is housed in a recently built performing arts theatre that includes the 2nd re-assembled theatre whose origin is Dunfermline, Scotland.
Other cultural institutions of major significance in the region include a ballet troupe, a symphony orchestra as well as an opera company. Sarasota holds an array of yearly film and music festivals. The Mote Marine Laboratory in the region is home to an aquarium that remains open to the public, alongside an impressive research facility. Other city attractions are the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Music of Yesterday, and the Bellm Cars. Today, Sarasota remains a thriving community, attracting people from all walks of life given its sheer diversity.