History of Anna Maria Island & Bradenton Beach

HomeArea GuideAnna Maria Travel InfoHistory of Anna Maria Island & Bradenton Beach

Learning the history of the place you are visiting can add to your vacation experience. If you’re planning to visit Anna Maria Island or Bradenton Beach, we’ve put together a brief history of each town to help you find your bearings and make the most of the journey. Read on below to learn about Anna Maria Island history!

Anna Maria Island History

The island was first formed more than 25,000 years ago based on historical books and information held by the Anna Maria Island Historical Society. 10,000 years after the island was formed, people began moving and inhabiting the island.

Fast forward thousands of years, explorers ventured into Florida and claimed the land mass as belonging to Spain, removing the Native Americans who were already in Anna Maria Island. The U.S. then acquired the entire state in the very beginning of the 19th century, pushing out Spain, despite their initial conquest.

The first resident of Anna Maria Island was George Emreson Bean who was shipwrecked near the town. He became a resident in 1893 and lived on the supplies delivered by the boat. During the following years, Anna Maria Island began to experience a lot of “firsts”. The first schoolhouse and church were built in 1913, travelers began to flourish on the island in 1923, and Cortez Beach attracted multiple inhabitants who then started opening book shops, carpentry businesses, and village stores.

During the 20th century, Anna Maria Island experienced even more growth, with motels, cafes, restaurants, parks, bathhouses, and nightclubs opening in the area. It was in the middle of the 1950s that the island was then separated into three cities, including Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, and Anna Maria.

History of Bradenton Beach

The history of Bradenton Beach thus began! Bradenton Beach earned its name after its creation in the mid-20th century, ensuring the residents had their own home aside from the Village of Cortez. In 1952, Bradenton Beach became an official city and experienced ample growth in the following decade. In 1967, the new draw bridge opened to allow for a bigger influx of visitors. Ever since this change, tourists and visitors have flocked to this beautiful town to visit Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Cortez Bridge, Bradenton City, and the bright blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As of today, there are almost 1,500 people who live in Bradenton Beach. Similarly, there are 8,500 people living in Anna Maria Island, showing that a small town can have a lot of character!