Downtown Sarasota has super-cute street names named after tropical fruits like Orange, Lemon and Pineapple Street. And then there are the numbered streets and those streets that don’t seem to go through and then pick up again further on. I found a great explanation of all this written by Don Smally, a well-known builder and engineer, in Sarasota’s History Alive newsletter and I quote the article here:
Growth in the metropolitan Sarasota area was putting a burden on the Post Office because of the duplication of street names. Mosby’s work preparing new property maps presented an opportunity to correct the street-naming problem. The Post Master, Gordon Higel asked the County to help him straighten out the mess that existed and to allow him to control the naming of new streets. I was asked to work with him. There were duplications and inconsistencies in numbering that also needed correcting. We devised the following plan:
• East-West thoroughfares would be renamed 'Streets'
• North-South thoroughfares would be renamed Avenues
• 7th became 1st Street
• The old 5th became State Street
• Roads would remain Roads
There were complaints. “Avenue” sounded classy, while "Street" sounded ordinary. “Why should I have to change my street name from 12th to 6th Street?” "Why should I have to change my address from 2604 to 1804?” The Postmaster prevailed, the changes were made, and all new developments followed the new method of naming new streets. Another major change had to do with the requirement of naming any through road that lined up with existing roads to use the same name, even though miles might separate the two. An example was Beneva Road which had stretches and gaps and was called Oriente north of Fruitville Road. Starting at 17th Street (which used to be 23rd Street) Beneva was the name down to U.S. 41 at Vamo Road. An exception was made for Swift Road. It was allowed to remain even though it lined up with Tuttle Avenue. There was confusion for a while but eventually everyone got used to the new system.
And then there is a lot of old history of our streets names based on landowners and developers ‘way back when.” Examples are the Bertha Palmer family, (Palmer Blvd, Honore Ave., Webber St., Lockwood) and the Burns family who arrived in 1910. Owen Burns closely followed Bertha Palmer to Sarasota and with two purchases, he quickly became the largest landholder within what now is the city, therefore many of the huge Sarasota properties she owned are in what now is Sarasota County (which did not exist during her lifetime). Many of its roads bear the names she put on the trails she established. She did participate, however, in speculation in the city along with others, purchasing undeveloped land in great quantities, and many parcels bear her name or that of her sons among those in abstracts.
And the history of all of our neighborhoods is entirely fascinating from the street names to the famous people who lived in them. For instance, do you know why there’s an Ocean Boulevard on Siesta Key when the city isn’t near any ocean? Turns out the street was named after Captain Louis Roberts’s wife, whose given name was Ocean Hansen.
It was a lot of fun researching this and the fact remains that Sarasota is not the easiest place to find your way around. Thankfully, most of us have navigation systems…and lifetime Sarasota residents like myself who know their way around! So if you are thinking of buying Real Estate in Sarasota, I will be glad to show you around my home town and find you a great home!
Sources and Credits: nps.gov, Sarasota History Alive, The Sarasota Herald Tribune/Jeff LaHurd