Sarasota is a city situated in Sarasota County, which is on the southwestern coast of the state of Florida. North of Fort Myers and south of the Tampa Bay area, the city’s current official limits include a number of barrier islands between the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay, as well as the bay itself. European settlers made their move to the area in significant numbers during the late 1840s. Maps that date back as far as the early 18th century had already given the place a Spanish name in the form of Zara Zote, and this was kept as Sarasota. The bounty and the climate offered by Sarasota Bay very much attracted the initial settlers during their relocation.
The village of Sarasota became incorporated as a town for local government under the state guidelines in 1902, when John Hamilton Gillespie was the mayor. Re-platted in 1912, the government of the town was then again incorporated a year later in 1913, this time as a city, with AB Edwards now serving as the mayor. In 1925 a professional planner by the name of John Nolen was hired in order to develop a plan for the city’s downtown. The streets were laid out in order to follow the bay front’s arch with a grid beyond, which extended south to Mound and north to what is now known as Tenth Street. The downtown also saw its names and numbers altered to their current versions.
The city of Sarasota has complete area of 25.9 square miles, according to figures from the United States Bureau, with 14.9 square miles of that being land and the other 11.0 square miles being composed of water. The climate in Sarasota is humid subtropical, with mild winters, very hot summers and a high level of humidity throughout the year. Sarasota has distinct rainy and dry seasons, with the rainy season commencing from June and lasting through until September, and the dry season beginning in October and concluding in May.
There were 52,715 people living in Sarasota at the time of the census in 2000, with 23,437 households residing in the city and 12,064 families. 76.91% of the city’s populace was white, with 16.02% being African American, 1.02% being Asian, and 0.35% being Native American. Of those 23,437 households, 19.7% had children living with them under 18 years of age, with 35.3% being married couples with no offspring. 38.3% of all households consisted of individuals, with 16.3% being someone aged 65 or older who was living alone. 48.5% of the households were non-families. Between 2005 and 2007, the total population of Sarasota County was 368,000, with 176,000 being males (48%) and 192,000 being females (52%). 30% of the population was aged 65 or over, with 17% under 18 years of age.
Sarasota has a number of cultural attractions, including the Sarasota Ballet, Asolo Repertory Company, the Sarasota Players, and many artistic, dance, musical and theatrical venues.