Longboat Key, Florida

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 BradentonSarasotaVenice Metropolitan Statistical Area. The town's population was 6,888 at the 2010 census,[5] down from 7,603 at the 2000 census.

Longboat Key, Florida
View of Millar bay and Sister Keys from a Longboat Keys residence
View of Millar bay and Sister Keys from a Longboat Keys residence
Location in Manatee County and the state of Florida
Location in Manatee County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 27°23′49″N 82°38′41″W / 27.39694°N 82.64472°W / 27.39694; -82.64472Coordinates: 27°23′49″N 82°38′41″W / 27.39694°N 82.64472°W / 27.39694; -82.64472
Country United States
State Florida
CountiesSarasota, Manatee
 • Town commissioner7 Total
 • Total16.00 sq mi (41.44 km2)
 • Land4.08 sq mi (10.56 km2)
 • Water11.92 sq mi (30.88 km2)
3 ft (1 m)
 • Total6,888
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,789.11/sq mi (690.75/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)941
FIPS code12-41150[3]
GNIS feature ID0286084[4]


Early HistoryEdit

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.[6] 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.[7]

Prior to 1842, Cuban and Spanish fisherman along with some squatters would reside on the island. A fishing camp and a trading post for Native Americans would exist in the northern part of the key located in what is presently the Longboat Village. At the time, the area was referred to on maps as "Saraxola" and "Zarazote". There is little known about the island after 1848 and until the 1880s because a hurricane hit the area and destroyed most of Longboat Key. The only thing that is known is that Charles Abbe had a plantation at an unknown location on the island where citrus and pineapples were grown at.[6]

Late 1800s & early 1900sEdit

The first people of European descent to claim land on the island were Colin and Rowlin W. Witt claiming 7.15 acres (2.89 ha) on the north end of the island in 1882.[6] There would be several others who would claim land on the island during the late 1800s but none of them are known to have lived on the island permanently.[8] Thomas Mann, in 1884 would claim 144.5 acres (58 ha) on the key. Thomas and his family would move to the key in 1888 being the first known permanent residents on the key. His home was located somewhere on the north end of the key.[6]

Mann was a carpenter by trade who was originally from Indiana and later moved to Minnesota in his life. During the American Civil War he would serve for the Union under the 7th Minnesota Infantry Regiment. Mann along with family would move to what is today Bradenton in 1872. He would leave because of either a local yellow fever epidemic or prejudice against him from being from the Northern United States. Thomas would die in 1908 in nearby Cortez.[8] His son, James would claim 143.5 acres (58 ha) south of his father's land in 1891.[6]

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. Thomas Mann would sell his land in 1898 to May and June Pointevesant of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Longboat Key's first post office would be established in 1907 being located at Byron Corey's pier located at the southern end of the island where he owned 153.5 acres (62 ha) of land beginning in 1903. Byron would also serve as Longboat Key's first postmaster.[6] The post office on the sound end would last until 1921 when it was destroyed by a hurricane.

During the 1910s, the key would see a surge in development and changes to it. The Pointevesants ended up selling their land to Rufus Perry Jordan and Annie Jordan in May 1911. Rufus would end up laying out a community named Longbeach, filling the plat in November 1911. During 1913, another subdivision named Shore Acres that covered 170 acres of land would began to be developed at the "narrowest" part of the island and would be finished by the next year. Another community would also be started at about the same year named Island Beach located south of it.[6] Longbeach would gain its own post office in 1914.[9] During the early 1900s and prior to the 1921 hurricane, Longboat Key had a significant farming presence with local residents growing a variety of products. A 1912 Sarasota Times headline would read: "From a lonely Key, it is now a center of trucking and fruit growing."[6]


In 1921, the key lost most of its agricultural land and buildings during a hurricane. That same year, the island was split between two counties, Sarasota and Manatee. Starting in 1923 John Ringling would purchase a large amount of land on Longboat Key.[6] Three years later in February 1926, John Ringling would go into a contract to develop a luxury hotel named the Ritz-Carlton on the south side of the island. Ringling's hotel would have had 200+ rooms, docking facilities and a railroad leading to it to bring guests there. The hotel began construction in March 1926 with a completion date of before December 15, 1926 specified in the contract. An 18-hole golf course would be built next to the hotel as well. Ringling would find himself preoccupied with other financial interest and also during that year the Florida Land Boom would begin to slow down as well. In November he ordered construction to be stopped on the hotel and later on continued to claim he would resume construction on the hotel but never did.[10] There were no roads that led to the key until 1929 when a bridge was built to St. Armands.[11] A bridge across Longboat Pass would be built in April 1929 and exist until March 1932 by heavy winds and tides

1930s & 1940sEdit

Starting in 1935, a former Chicago insurance agent named Gordon Whitney would start buying up property to construct a series of cottages on the northern end of the island. The area where he built them would get the name of Whitney Beach. Gordon had the intention of making the cottages serve as part of a resort.[12] 1936, for the first time, telephone service was brought to the southern part of the island.[6] During 1937, John Ringling North, the head of John Ringling's estate who had died in 1936 announced that Martin Sweeney had an interest in finishing the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Sweeny said the hotel would have two 18 hole golf course, an airport, a club and facilities for fishing along with 235 rooms when completed. However these plans would never transpire and the hotel remained in its then current state.[10] By 1939 or 1940, telephone service was brought to the North End.[6] Longboat Key got its first newspaper, Gulf Gale in 1941 and would run until 1944.[6]

In World War II, Longboat Key would have a bombing range. In 1942, it was used by B-26 planes, and from 1943 to 1945 by P-40 and P-51 planes. The range was used between 8 A.M to 5 P.M, which meant that residents on the Northern side of the island could not go south of it until after its training sessions.[13]

1950s to the presentEdit

On November 13, 1955, the town was incorporated by a 186–13 vote at a meeting in a fire station. The meeting itself lasted for 3 hours and 10 minutes in total. Reasons for supporting incorporation were that Longboat Key could have more say in it's governmental affairs.[14] It is also believed that the placement of a segregated beach for African-Americans on the island was another motivator behind incorporating. By incorporating the entire key they could somehow avoid the placement of the beach altogether and residents also held meetings protesting the beach's placement.[15] Significant arguments against incorporation were that property taxes would go up.[14] After doing the incorporation vote, Will LePage was elected as the first mayor along with the first 8 members to the Board of Alderman.[14] 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.[16]

A family at the beach on Longboat Key in 1958.

In 1959 the Arvida Corporation created by Arthur Vining Davis would purchase 2,000 acres which included the southern half of Longboat Key, a majority of Lido Key along with Bird, Otter and Coon Keys at a price of $13.5 million.[17] It was expected that the population would be increased by 12,000 extra residents.[18] Some of the land purchased would come from John Ringling North and on his Longboat Key land included the unfinished Ritz-Carlton hotel. There was a proposal in 1962 by a Sarasota realtor to finish construction of it and make it into a convention site for Sarasota. Arvida though had no interest in either selling or attempting to finish the hotel. The hotel would be torn down between December 1963 and January 1964.

President George W. 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.[19]


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.[20] 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".[citation needed]

Longboat Key is served by two newspapers published year-round, the Longboat Observer and the Longboat Key News.[21]

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.[citation needed] 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.[22]

In recent years, it has been suggested to declare Longboat Key a national seashore, a public land operated by the National Park Service.


White heron in the Durante Community Park on Longboat Key

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.[5] 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.[citation needed]

Real estateEdit

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.[23]


Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)7,296[2]5.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[24]

As of the census[3] 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 peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Longboat Key town, Florida". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 10, 2020. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "The History of Longboat Key". Longboat Key History. Retrieved May 11, 2021.
  7. ^ "Longboat Key - History and Place to Visit". Longboat Key Chamber. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Lore: Mann became first Longboat Key homesteader in 1891 | Longboat Key". Your Observer. June 11, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Smith, Mark D. "Ringling's Ritz-Carlton | Sarasota History Alive!". Sarasota History Alive. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  11. ^ "Farming on Longboat till 1921". longboat key history.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2016.
  12. ^ "Whitney Beach". Longboat Key History. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  13. ^ "World War II". longboat key history.com. Archived from the original on July 8, 2017. Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Hartill, Robin (November 14, 2012). "Town of Longboat Key turns 57, but who's counting?". Longboat Observer. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  15. ^ "The Integration of Sarasota Beaches". Sarasota History Alive!. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  16. ^ "Longboat Key - History and Place to Visit". Longboat Key Chamber. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  17. ^ Hartill, Robin (October 2, 2012). "Key Club: 'Celebration of a dream'". Your Observer. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  18. ^ "ARVIDA (Arthur Vining Davis)". Longboat Key History. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  19. ^ "9-11 Research: George W. Bush". 911research.wtc7.net. Archived from the original on December 30, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  20. ^ Bradbury, Alford G., and Hallock, E. Story, A Chronology of Florida Post Offices, 1962, reprinted 1993, Port Salerno, Florida: Florida Classics Library, p. 49. ISBN 0-9630788-1-X
  21. ^ http://www.lbknews.com/ Archived February 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ White, Dale. "Manatee likely to fight any move by Longboat Key to leave county". www.heraldtribune.com. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  23. ^ http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/news/viewarticle.php?id=221 Archived July 1, 2007, at archive.today swfwmd.state.fl.us
  24. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  25. ^ Vecsey, George (November 3, 2007). "Al Arbour: The Man Behind the Glass". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 7, 2018. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  26. ^ Mallozzii, Vincent M. "Lou Bender, Columbia Star Who Helped Popularize Basketball in New York, Dies at 99" Archived January 26, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, September 12, 2009. Accessed September 13, 2009.
  27. ^ ABBY WEINGARTEN Correspondent. "Who lives here?". HeraldTribune.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  28. ^ "Longboat Key mansion fetches cool $12.5 million | HeraldTribune.com". June 25, 2016. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved January 19, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Joe Perry's Condo". Virtual Globetrotting. January 10, 2011. Archived from the original on November 25, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  31. ^ "Corey's Landing home sells for $3.55 million | Longboat Key | Your Observer". June 25, 2016. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved August 18, 2018.

External linksEdit