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Bradenton, Florida

Bradenton, FloridaThe largest municipality in Manatee County, Florida, Bradenton is known as “The Friendly City.” Originally named Bradentown, after Dr. Joseph Braden, who provided shelter for early settlers during Seminole Indian attacks, it is now home to more than 50,000 people.

The area was first explored in the early 16th century by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who was looking for the legendary El Dorado. The original town was incorporated in 1903, then combined with Manatee City in 1943 to create the current city of Bradenton.

Tropicana Products has been producing citrus juice in Bradenton since 1947. Now owned by Pepsi Co., more than 8,000 employees work for what is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of orange juice.

The beautiful city is also home to Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training and the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League during the regular season.

Bradenton has many unique communities, including what has become known as the Village of the Arts. A renovated neighborhood with special zoning laws, it is located south of the downtown area. Dilapidated homes and structures have been renovated and converted into charming studios, galleries, small restaurants and other small businesses. It is the largest arts district on the Gulf Coast.

Located on the Manatee River is the Parker Manatee Aquarium, which has a famous permanent resident. Snooty, who was born on July 21, 1948, was the first manatee to be born in captivity and might be the oldest manatee in the world. The manatee is Bradenton’s official mascot.

The city is a short drive from Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, and it is connected to St. Petersburg by the 5.5-mile Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Remnants of the former Skyway Bridge were put to a new use when it was converted into a fishing pier that extends into both sides of Tampa Bay.

Bradenton remembers old Florida through its many museums but looks to the future with its vibrant downtown and riverwalk. The beauty of the area is represented and preserved through many parks: Robinson Preserve, DeSoto National Memorial Park, Cortez Historic Fishing Village and Manatee Village Historical Park.

Manatee Village Historical Park is a collection of restored buildings from Manatee County’s pioneer past, including a courthouse, a oneroom schoolhouse, a farmhouse, a general store, a boat shop, a steam engine and a cowboy bunkhouse.

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