the riverwalk
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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.”

 


To Cuba

Jean Blackburn

Manatee County was once one of the largest cattle producing areas in the United States. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, local ranchers shipped live cattle to Cuban markets from docks on the Manatee River. Sponsored by the Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association

 


Our Roots Run Deep

Don Brandes

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

 


Fishing

Jean Blackburn

Seafood from the Manatee River fed the aboriginal Indians. In the 1800s, Cuban fishermen made their homes along the river’s shore. Fishing kept early residents alive, sustained people during the hard times of the Great Depression, and provides food and recreation today.

 


Water Above, Water Below

Don Brandes

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

 


Boats

Jean Blackburn

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

Don Brandes

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

Jean Blackburn

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.

 


Welcome To Manatee Lands

Don Brandes

People have lived along the Manatee River for over 2000 years. Spanish explorers met the descendants of the earliest inhabitants, called Tocobaga, in the 1500s. The South Florida Museum has a collection of pottery, tools, and other traces of these first peoples.