Florida was one of the first states to embrace the automobile, with the first auto race in the state taking place in 1904. Today, Florida is still known for its car culture, with numerous car shows and events taking place throughout the year.
Manatee County, located on the southwestern coast of Florida, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by indigenous tribes such as the Calusa and Timucua. These tribes thrived off the abundant natural resources in the region, including the rivers, bays, and wildlife. European explorers, including Hernando de Soto, arrived in the 16th century, leading to the eventual colonization of the area by the Spanish.

In the 19th century, Manatee County experienced rapid growth and development. The first permanent settlement, called Braden Castle, was established in 1842. The region quickly became known for its fertile land, which attracted settlers interested in agriculture and farming. The county's economy grew as farmers cultivated crops like citrus fruits, vegetables, and tobacco. In addition to agriculture, fishing and boating industries also thrived along the coastline.

By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the arrival of the railroad and the opening of the port in the city of Bradenton further boosted the county's growth. The development of transportation infrastructure facilitated trade and commerce, making Manatee County an important hub for shipping goods to other parts of Florida and beyond. The county also became a popular tourist destination, thanks to its warm climate and beautiful beaches.

Over the years, Manatee County has continued to evolve and diversify its economy. Tourism remains a significant industry, with visitors flocking to attractions such as the world-renowned beaches of Anna Maria Island and the vibrant downtown area of Bradenton. Additionally, the county has embraced healthcare, education, and technology sectors, contributing to its overall economic prosperity. Today, Manatee County stands as a historical and vibrant community that reflects both its past and present influences.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Manatee County, Florida.

  • 1842: Manatee County is created as an original county of the Territory of Florida.
  • 1855: Manatee Village is established as the county seat.
  • 1866: Bradenton, located near the mouth of the Manatee River, becomes the new county seat.
  • 1887: The first railroad reaches Bradenton, spurring economic growth in the area.
  • 1893: The courthouse in Bradenton is completed.
  • 1911: The first bridge across the Manatee River is opened, connecting Bradenton and Palmetto.
  • 1921: The Village of Cortez becomes part of Manatee County.
  • 1924: The Tamiami Trail, a highway linking Tampa and Miami, is completed, bringing more visitors and settlers to the area.
  • 1945: The first hospital, Manatee Memorial, is established in Bradenton.
  • 1989: The Manatee County Historical Commission is formed to preserve and promote the county's history.
  • 2019: Manatee County celebrates its 175th anniversary as a county.