Located just south of the Greater Tampa Bay, Bradenton is the seat of Manatee County and a fabulous place to explore the arts, historical attractions and have fun in the sun on the numerous beaches in the area.
Incorporated May 19, 1903, the area now called the City of Bradenton (approximate population: 53,823 as of April 2010; size: 14.44 square miles) was discovered in 1539 by Hernando DeSoto when he landed on Shaw’s Point to begin his 4,000 mile trek in search of El Dorado, “the lost city of gold.”
Formerly known as the Town of Manatee, this area merged with Bradenton in the 1940s and now comprises the city’s eastern half.
Each spring the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society celebrates DeSoto’s landing with a month’s worth of events, including the SeaFood Festival, a homemade boating race at the Palma Sola Causeway beach, a fishing tournament, a musical and fashion show, a formal-dress ball, and parades. Headquar- tered in downtown, the Society also supports various local charities, visits local schools and retire-ment homes, and supports its sister organization, Conquistador Historical Foundation, and its student exchange program with Barcarrota, Spain - Bradenton’s “Sister City.”
Bradenton is home to numerous businesses, including nationally known Tropicana Products Inc., the famous juice maker; Champs Sports; the corporate offices of Beall’s Department Stores and plays host to many fun, family attractions and events, including Winter Wonderland, Get Down Downtown, and other events on downtown’s beautiful, well-lit streets and Rossi Waterfront Park, which stretches along the scenic Manatee River and includes an outdoor amphitheater, playground equipment, benches and gazebos and a granite-marble memorial to the victims of the 9-11 tragedy and the local public servants who have perished in the line of duty.
Get started enjoying our warm, friendly atmosphere by touring the South Florida Museum, which is actually three sites in one: The artifacts displays, Bishop Planetarium and Parker Aquarium. The white dome, one of the downtown skyline’s most recognizable structures, is the Bishop Planetar- ium, home to one of the world’s most advanced planetarium projectors. Its state-of-the-art projector can take visitors on a visual journey through the galaxy while they relax in reclined seats and gaze at the theater’s eye-popping graphics. Stick around for an evening show: Spectacular light and graphics set to ear-piercing rock music.
Snooty, the oldest living manatee in the world born in captivity, lives in the Parker Aquarium, and the museum’s artifacts section takes visitors up close and personal with the creatures that once roamed the area, the tools used by ancient man, and more. A few years back a visiting member of the Smithso- nian described it as one of the best small museums in the country.
If you’re looking for more history, swing by the Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., for a step back into time to see how Manatee County’s early pioneers lived. The village features the restored, 1913 train engine known as Old Cabbage Head. Also among the many pieces of history here are the Wiggins Store, built in 1903 as a general store and gathering place; Manatee Burying Ground, the final resting place for many of the county’s pioneers; First Courthouse, built in 1860, the oldest remaining building built as a courthouse in the state; Old Meeting House, which opened in 1889 as one of the first Christian churches; and more. Not bad for free admission!
Bradenton also is the spring training home of Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league affiliate, the Marauders. In March, the big league Pirates play their spring training games at beautiful McKechnie Field, regarded by many as one of the best spring training stadiums in Florida’s Grapefruit League. It has been called “the Fenway Park of spring training.” In an era where baseball teams and cities part ways quite frequently, the Pirates and the City of Bradenton have enjoyed a rela- tionship stretching back to 1969. In 2007, the City and the Pirates agreed to a 30-year extension - which included the installation of lights at McKechnie Field. In April 2010, the Marauders - a High Single A farm club that competes with other minor league teams in the Florida State League - played their first game at McKechnie Field. The minor league season runs from April to early September. For an exciting vacation adventure or a lifetime of relaxed living, come see how Bradenton has become increasingly cosmopolitan in character while retaining its small-town charm. The City is home to the Village of the Arts, a growing neighborhood of renovated cottages just south of downtown that provides homes, studios and galleries for dozens of local artists and other small businesses, including three restaurants. The businesses all open their doors on the first Friday evening and following Saturday afternoon of the month during the ArtWalk. Visit www.RealizeBradenton.com for a complete overview of the City’s arts, culture and heritage.
There are several redevelopment projects targeting formerly underserved areas of the City, including the expansion of Norma Lloyd Park with the addition of a community center, multi-purpose soccer field and playground; plans to rejuvenate the Washington Park neighborhood through the introduction of residential and commercial opportunities and the Bra- denton Housing Authority’s ongoing construction of Bradenton Village.
The City also is taking steps to revitalize Tamiami Trail (also known as 14th Street West), considered a major corridor leading to downtown, with new homes, office buildings, and commercial outlets.
In a nutshell, the City of Bradenton is a wonderful, safe and growing place to live and visit, and we hope you decide to make beautiful Bradenton your next destination!
Information provided by: http://www.cityofbradenton.com/