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The town of Longboat Key turned fabulous 60 on Nov. 14, 2015. The island itself enjoys a vivid heritage that predates the town’s formation in 1955.
Longboat Key has been a prime vacation desti- nation for hundreds—if not thousands—of years. Its earliest known tourists were Calusa and Timucuan Indians who lived on the mainland east of the Key but traveled there to enjoy many of the same at- tractions that draw visitors to its shores today: the striking beaches and luscious seafood harvest.
In 1538, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto led an expedition to Florida in search of gold. Instead, he found shimmering sunsets and inviting sands. De Soto’s scout and treasurer, Juan Anasco, explored the area and is said to have been the first European to set foot on Longboat Key.
But it wasn’t until the late 1800s that Longboat Key had its first permanent residents. In 1888, Thomas Mann, a Confederate soldier and carpen- ter, moved his family to a simple thatched hut he built on the north end of the Key. In 1891, as part of the Homestead Act, Mann was awarded 144.47 acres in what is now the Longbeach Village neigh- borhood of Longboat Key.
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Longboat Key Paradise
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Longboat Key was most likely named for the longboats the Spaniards used to explore the shores once they made landfall. In 1821, infamous pirate Jean Lafitte was shipwrecked on or near Longboat Key for several months. Buried treasure, anyone? Famous former/current Longboaters include Aerosmith’s lead guitarist Joe Perry, tennis great Maria Sharapova and artist Ed Miracle.
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