Postcards from the Friendly City
Art Connects is a project of Realize Bradenton and the Downtown Development Authority. High school and college students work with artists and historians studying the community and conveying their findings in writing and art. Expanding upon students’ research, artists Jean Blackburn and Don Brandes were commissioned by the Downtown Development Authority to further express the rich history of the Manatee River and community in nine “Postcards” which are placed along the Riverwalk.
Partners: the South Florida Museum and the Manatee Historic Village Park
Funding: the Knight Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation, Stranahan Foundation, Manatee Education Foundation
Click the postcards for historic information, artwork and photos.
Welcome To Manatee Lands
Don Brandes and Jean Blackburn
Before automobiles and the Interstate System, the Manatee River was the main transportation route for people and products. When first opened for settlement, the area was called the “Manatee Lands.”
Our Roots Run Deep
Farming was a way of life for Manatee’s earliest settlers. The Manatee River was the only connection that local fruit and vegetable growers had to markets as near as Tampa and as distant as Chicago. Later, the railroad bridge, still in use today, expanded the connections to those markets. Sponsored by Tropicana Manufacturing Company
Water Above, Water Below
Before reaching the Manatee River, water filters over and through the land of a 360 square-mile watershed. This system has supported the animal and plant life in Florida for millions of years and we still rely on it today. Sponsored by The Mosaic Company Foundation
Imagine a world where roads were rivers. Docks along the river were the commercial ports of their day and everything moved in and out of Bradenton on boats, from small family-owned rowboats to steamships. Without boats and boat-building, Manatee County’s growth would have been greatly limited.
Come Back Soon
Tourism began when the first settlers told the country about the wonders of the Manatee River. In 1924, the City of Bradenton coined the phrase “The Friendly City” which still characterizes Bradenton and Manatee County. Sponsored by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
June: Life on the River
Life on the river meant hard work in the Florida climate. Early homesteaders were isolated from the town-life inland, and the river was their connection to Bradenton and their neighbors. Some African-Americans came to Manatee County as slaves. After emancipation, some of those families who remained lived on homesteads along the Manatee River.