What did Florida’s Anna Maria Island look like in 1900s and Roaring 20s? Take a look

·2 min read

One hundred years ago, the first bridge to Anna Maria Island was built, allowing more cars and visitors on the island than ever before.

In the last century, Manatee County’s beaches have become extremely popular. Traffic and finding parking has become an issue on the beaches, and protecting the beaches from erosion and contamination has become more important than ever.

Evelyn Hoskins, an 80-year-old Anna Maria Island resident, says the island’s first bridge brought construction and development to the island, leading to what it looks like today.

Hoskins said she feels lucky to have a home on the island.

“We’re the beach for Manatee County,” Hoskins said. “Anyone who lives in Manatee County comes here for a beach day.”

Ladies in their summer beach costumes at the home of J.R. Wood in 1920s
Ladies in their summer beach costumes at the home of J.R. Wood in 1920s

Hoskins lived in Palmetto before moving to the island 15 years ago, and her family has lived in Manatee County for about 150 years.

She believes that the best part about the beaches on the island is that the residential community preserves the beauty for generations to come.

Here are some photos from the Bradenton Herald’s archives at the Bradenton Carnegie Library and the Manatee County Public Library Digital Collections that show a glimpse of what the beaches looked like in the early 1900s.

Beachgoers don conservative beachwear in the early 1900s.
Beachgoers don conservative beachwear in the early 1900s.
Aerial photo of Shore Acres on Anna Maria Island in the early 1900s.
Aerial photo of Shore Acres on Anna Maria Island in the early 1900s.
Birds hanging out on City Pier in the early 1900s.
Birds hanging out on City Pier in the early 1900s.
Beachcombers on Anna Maria Island in the early 1900’s.
Beachcombers on Anna Maria Island in the early 1900’s.
A woman poses on the beach in the early 1900s.
A woman poses on the beach in the early 1900s.
Beach visitors take a photo on Bradenton Beach in the early 1900s.
Beach visitors take a photo on Bradenton Beach in the early 1900s.
A photo of the Bradenton Beach Casino taken in the early 1900s.
A photo of the Bradenton Beach Casino taken in the early 1900s.
A party of campers on the beach at Anna Maria between 1910 and 1915. It looks like they are handling fishing nets.
A party of campers on the beach at Anna Maria between 1910 and 1915. It looks like they are handling fishing nets.
Breakfast on the beach during a camping trip on Anna Maria Island in 1917.
Breakfast on the beach during a camping trip on Anna Maria Island in 1917.
Maude Lightfoot on left with unidentified friend in center and Hershel Coarsey at right on the beach at Anna Maria between 1905 and 1915.
Maude Lightfoot on left with unidentified friend in center and Hershel Coarsey at right on the beach at Anna Maria between 1905 and 1915.
Automobiles are parked on the beach at Cortez Beach, the early name for the Bradenton Beach area of Anna Maria Island between 1905 and 1915.
Automobiles are parked on the beach at Cortez Beach, the early name for the Bradenton Beach area of Anna Maria Island between 1905 and 1915.
Four ladies pose on the beach in their bathing costumes at Anna Maria in 1917.
Four ladies pose on the beach in their bathing costumes at Anna Maria in 1917.
Girls gather for a picnic between 1915 and 1918 on the beach at Anna Maria Island. Left to right are Marian Braymer, Florence Zimmerman, unknown, Margaret Hurlebaus, unknown, Doris Hampton, Gertrude and Catherine Fuller, Julia Reasoner, Inez Morgan, Mabel Morrow, Pearl Keller and Grace Morgan. Notice that the girls all have their “summer whites” on.
Girls gather for a picnic between 1915 and 1918 on the beach at Anna Maria Island. Left to right are Marian Braymer, Florence Zimmerman, unknown, Margaret Hurlebaus, unknown, Doris Hampton, Gertrude and Catherine Fuller, Julia Reasoner, Inez Morgan, Mabel Morrow, Pearl Keller and Grace Morgan. Notice that the girls all have their “summer whites” on.
Family portrait made at the beach. This is a copy photo made for Mrs. Jan Williams in January 1951 by the Odom Photography Studio on Bradenton’s Old Main Street between 1900 and 1910.
Family portrait made at the beach. This is a copy photo made for Mrs. Jan Williams in January 1951 by the Odom Photography Studio on Bradenton’s Old Main Street between 1900 and 1910.
Unidentified ladies stand among the young cocoanut palms along the beach at Anna Maria. The Gulf of Mexico lies alluringly nearby on the right between 1925-35.
Unidentified ladies stand among the young cocoanut palms along the beach at Anna Maria. The Gulf of Mexico lies alluringly nearby on the right between 1925-35.
People enjoy Bradenton Beach between 1923-26.
People enjoy Bradenton Beach between 1923-26.

Both residents and tourists alike come to Manatee’s beaches for its well-kept condition.

Joyce Franklin, a 35-year-old New Jersey resident, recently said it was her and her husband’s first time visiting Coquina Beach. They are traveling through Florida this week, and plan to visit as many beaches as they can along the Sun Coast.

“We are big beach goers,” she said. “I’ve been trying to rate the best beaches in Florida, and this beach is so far at the top of my list.”

A few requirements are needed for being at the top of Franklin’s list, and Coquina Beach ranked first in having the best sand, best quiet atmosphere and the best beach bar.

A few of Bradenton’s beaches could win awards for its peacefulness.

Grant Kidd, a 46-year-old Longboat Key homeowner, said that he bought property on the island because he enjoys the private, residential beaches.

“As an owner of a small business, it is so rare to have a quiet moment to myself,” Kidd said. “Being alone and by the beach gives me that moment of silence that I need before I’m ready to take off for the day.”