Many wonderful places are surrounded by not-so-wonderful places. Often these wonderful places have been preserved, and protected from development, but the development has sprawled all around them. Eventually the small preserved spots can start to feel more like museum exhibits than like places where real life takes place. They are isolated. It may be fun to visit such places, but in my opinion it would not be enjoyable to live in them.
Sometimes things happen in the opposite way. It’s the new development that is nice compared to the older surroundings. This is how it is when an upscale gated community is developed in an area that was previously undesirable. All is fine inside the gates, but outside there is not much of appeal.
Anna Maria Island is a gem of a place, and it is surrounded by a wide variety of other kinds of places, all of which are appealing. This is one of the island’s greatest assets in terms of being a wonderful place to live. Not only is the island a remarkably small scale, natural Old Florida area, but it also offers its residents easy access to many other kinds of places. This makes life here more interesting and colorful. Within a short distance, the variety of surroundings and activities is remarkable.
To the south, Longboat Key is one of the wealthiest communities in the nation. The professional landscaping is reason enough to occasionally take a drive or trolley ride down Longboat. At the top of Longboat Key is the historical village where peacocks have roamed freely for years, and where the art center is now a part of the Ringling School of Art and Design.
One of the most enchanting spots on Anna Maria Island is the old City Pier at the end of Pine Street in Anna Maria. The enchantment comes from the simplicity of the shoreline and the structure. It has not been “gussied up” as a tourist attraction, and it retains the authenticity of a place enjoyed by real people from all walks of life. There is a certain feeling of camaraderie among all those who stroll out the pier, whether to fish or watch others fish.
The City Pier Restaurant at the end of the pier is casual dining in atmosphere, but not in its standards. Friendly locals serve very good food. Most of the dishes are seafood, not surprisingly. The large glass windows give open views of Tampa Bay, over to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Immediately outside the window people are fishing, just feet away from the restaurant patrons. The feeling of being on the water is enhanced by the frequent, though minor, vibrations of the entire pier due to wave action.
According to Carolyne Norwood, in her book Anna Maria Island: The Early Days, 1893 – 1940, the City Pier was built in 1911. By this time the small town of Anna Maria already had 60 homes and several stores. The purpose of the pier was to accommodate steamers bringing wealthy tourists from Tampa and St. Petersburg, so it was built 776 feet out into the bay. Continue reading “Anna Maria Island City Pier” »