In the 1880s, the "Florida Mortgage and Investment Company" was looking for people to colonize Sarasota. Scotland seemed a good place to approach as there was economic difficulty there at the time. Articles were place in newspapers encouraging immigration to Sarasota. The attempt was successful and the first true settlers in Sarasota came from Scotland, although many left soon after arrival because the town was not yet built. Those who stayed behind helped build the town on Sarasota Bay.
The Scottish connection to Sarasota is seen in Browning Avenue, named for the John Browning family, one of the few of the Scot Colony to stay on. There is also Gillespie Avenue named for John Hamilton Gillespie, the Scot who was sent by the Florida Mortgage Company to revive the effort to build Sarasota, today considered the "Father of Sarasota". A look at the original plat of Sarasota from 1885 reveals that most of the streets were named for fruits: pineapple, orange, mango, banana, lemon and lime. The idea was to encourage people to move here from other places to start farms, because the land was fertile, and the street names showed the fruits that could be grown here. At the time grapefruit was unknown.
On Siesta Key, Ocean Boulevard is not named because of its proximity to the water, but rather, it takes the name of Ocean Deep Hansen, who was born on the Atlantic Ocean on July 12, 1860. She married Captain Louis Roberts, who operated the Siesta Hotel and later teamed up with E.M. Argbogast and Harry Higel to form the Siesta Land Company to plat the north end of Sarasota Key as Siesta Key.
Also on Siesta Key, Stickney Point Road is named for “Uncle” Ben Stickney, an early settler there who opened his hand, heart and house to anyone who needed assistance.
Higel Avenue is named after Harry Higel, “Sarasota’s indefatigable booster,” who was involved in many facets of Sarasota’s early growth and development.
Midnight Pass Road is named for the pass opened by the hurricane of 1921. The pass was closed in 1984, with calls of “Let it Flow” becoming the perennial battle cry of those who would like it reopened.
On Lido Key, the streets are named after Presidents. During that “can do” era, President Harding was slated to use the Worcester Mansion on Bird key as his Winter White House. St. Armands Circle was known as Harding Circle in those days. Unfortunately, Harding died before the plan was implemented.
The earliest trails were paths cut through the woods by pioneers. Probably the first overland connection to Bradenton was the unintended consequence of Sarasota’s first settler, William Whitaker, trudging to the village of Manatee for two years courting Mary Wyatt, who would become his wife.
Swift Road was named for Clifton Swift, who built the Bee Ridge Hotel and Tuttle Avenue was named after William Tuttle, who came to town for Bertha Palmer to survey the area and build roads.
Ringling Boulevard was named for the brother of Circus Magnate John Ringling. Charles Ringling devoted his life to building the Court House and the Sarasota Terrace Hotel (now a part of the County Administration Offices). John Ringling developed the keys, including St. Armand's Circle (originally named St. Amands, but somewhere along the way an "r" made its way into the name, and it stuck!).
The Tamiami Trail was so named because it connected Tampa with Miami. In 1928, for the formal dedication of the highway, a long caravan of around 500 cars made their way from Tampa to Miami.
Higel Avenue is named after Harry Higel, who was involved in many facets of Sarasota's early growth.
Midnight Pass Road is named for the pass opened by the hurricane of 1921. The pass was closed in 1984.
On Lido Key, many of the streets are named after Presidents. Just take a ride down the Boulevard of Presidents to see which ones are included. I hope you found this article interesting. For more about Sarasota History go to sarasotahistoryalive.com - and for even more information about the Sarasota Bradenton area try liveinsarasotamanatee.com - I suspect you'll find out about a lot of things you were unaware of. (The items in this article are taken in part from sarasotahistoryalive.com)