Anna Maria Island History
Welcome to Anna Maria Island!!!
We are very happy to have you and we know you will fall in love with our little Island and all that it has to offer!
There is a great deal of history in the surrounding area, dating as far back as 1000 A.D. The Timucuan and Caloocan American Indian Tribes were the very first inhabitants of the area. They were farmers, fishermen and physically large and ferocious warriors. Ponce De Leon supposedly named The Island after Maria Anna, the Queen of Charles II of Spain, during his expedition in 1521. He was prevented by the Indian Tribes from colonizing the area. In 1539, Hernando Desoto landed on the northern coast of Bradenton was successful in enslaving The Indians. He forced them to lead him and his troops to El Dorado, The City of Gold but after 4000 miles of searching, Desoto became ill and died, leaving his men no other choice but to return to Mexico. Today, there is little trace of The Indian Tribes, due to their demise from waring and disease. Legend has it that these very Indians are responsible for naming The Manatee River after the gentle sea cows that still inhabit the inland waterways of the area. Also, depending upon who you ask, the correct pronunciation is “Anna Mar-EYE-a” named after the German word “maria”, meaning “wind” due to the recurring strong winds around the Island.
An Island with 3 Towns
The Island is only 7 miles long and made up of three municipalities: The City of Anna Maria, The City of Holmes Beach and The City of Bradenton Beach.
George Emerson Bean was the first permanent resident of The City of Anna Maria, in 1892. His son, along with Charles Roser, the Father of the Fig Newton, developed the area, hence Bean Point and Roser Church; The City of Holmes Beach was homesteaded in 1896, by Sam and Annie Cobb. Thier daughter, Anna Maria Cobb, was born in 1897 and became the first “non-Native” child born on the Island.
At the close of World War II, developer Jack Holmes built a 600 acre community center here and a small airstrip was built in 1948. The City was incorporated in 1950. The movie “On An Island With You”, starring Esther Williams and Peter Lawford was partially filmed here.
The City of Bradenton Beach was formed in 1953 and grew due to the Cortez Bridge being built in 1921, which still connects the Island to the Mainland to this day. The manatee Causeway was built in The main road, Gulf Drive, which is the only road running the entire length of the Island, actually has a few different names; Gulf Dr., Marina Dr. and Palm Dr. but don’t let this confuse you-you will not get lost.
Old Florida Charm
No matter where you stay, you are sure to feel the “Old Florida” charm that has managed to linger all these years. There are many historic buildings still in existence, from the old jail on Pine Ave. to the Historic Society and a few piers where you can fish from or just enjoy the views.
One thing is for sure, you will never forget your first visit to Anna Maria Island and most likely you will be back. Leaving is the hardest part!