1940 - 1970




1940 Federal census is16,106.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens opens. See resident flamingos.

Work begins on Fruitville School.

U.S. sells "surplus" war material to Britain.

First peacetime draft is approved.

Frank Lloyd Wright designs buildings at Florida Southern College, Lakeland,  FL.

1941 Myakka State Park is officially dedicated by Honore and Potter Palmer.

Sarasota Public Library is opened. The Chidsey Library building is the first building built for the Sarasota Library. With it, the city takes complete control of the library from the Woman's Club. The Chidsey Building now houses the Sarasota County Department of Historical Resources.

U.S. base at Pearl Harbor is attacked by Japan. (Dec. 7)

The National Gallery of Art opens in Washington, D.C.

Big films of the year: "Citizen Kane" with Orson Wells and Hitchcock's "Suspicion."

1942 Sarasota Army Air Field becomes a bomber pilot training base in the spring of 1942 and then is converted later that year into a fighter pilot training base because the bombers are too heavy for the runways and cause too much damage to them.

See pictures of W.W.II soldiers. 1 - 2 - 3


W.W.II rages in Europe and Pacific theater.

Disney produces the film "Bambi."

The first automatic computer is developed in the U.S.

1943 Venice Army Air Base begins training pilots.

Military patients are treated at the Army hospital in Venice. See them being trained (in their bathrobes) for fire fighting. 

Local young ladies promote war bonds to help in the war effort.

Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt hold Teheran conference.

Penicillin is successfully used in the treatment of chronic illnesses, especially for soldiers.

Jitterbugging replaces the Linda Hop on US dance floors.

1944 An unnamed hurricane forces the newspaper to miss an edition, celery and citrus crops ruined, approximately 500 people seek refuge. Over 100 mph winds.See pictures of soldiers' tent during flood. Military personnel are ordered to evacuate.

See the picture of the Venice Army Air base after the hurricane.

Local ladies sew on soldiers' stripes, buttons; hem pants and mend uniforms at the Service Men's Club "Hostess House".

Ringling students take watercolor classes on the beach.

Miss Charlie Hagerman is the first woman elected to county office (tax-collector) and holds that office until 1975.

D-Day--Allied invasion on Normandy, France. (June 6)

More than 165 are killed and 175 injured in Hartford, Conn. in Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus fire.

First nonstop flight from London to Canada.

Popular songs: "Rum and Cola-Cola," "Accentuate the Positive;" "Sentimental Journey";" Don't Fence Me In."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected to a fourth term.

1945 State census counts 19,202 people.

Sarasota celebrates the end of W.W.II.

See a soldier (W.J. Farber) with a buddy and barracks in background. See the ID that Farber carried in his wallet.

Germany surrenders. (May 7)

Atomic bombs are dropped on Hiroshima ( Aug. 6) and Nagasaki. (Aug.9) End of W.W.II.

President Roosevelt dies and is succeeded by VP Truman.

Frank Lloyd Wright designs the Guggenheim Museum, NYC.

George Orwell publishes his book Animal Farm.

1946 Sarasota Army Air Field and Venice Army Base are both deactivated.

Venice Gondolier prints its first issue of newspaper.

Governor Millard Caldwell brings his entire cabinet to Sarasota to accept title to Ca'd'Zan and the John and Mable Museum of Art from the John Ringling Estate.

Sarasota County ranks third in celery production in the state.

See the circus people. Loomis Dean photos.1, 2

United Nations building is planned in NYC.

Joe Louis is world heavy weight boxing champion for the 23rd time.

Byrd explores the South Pole.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives his famous "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri.





Sarasota holds its first Labor Day Regatta.

Circus museum, part of the Ringling museum complex, is approved for financing by the State.

Sarasota County sprays for mosquitoes.

Jackie Robinson becomes first non-white to play major league baseball.

US airplane first flies at supersonic speeds.

Scientists at Bell laboratories invent the transistor.

1948 Florida Power and Light builds power plant at Payne Terminal at 10th St. at Route 41. Gandhi is assassinated.

Israel becomes a Jewish state.

1949 West Coast Symphony is established. (Becomes the oldest continuous orchestra in Florida.)

The Art Association Bldg. opens.

State of Florida requires fencing cattle.

US Foreign Assistance Bill grants $ 5.43 billion to aid post-war  Europe.

George Orwell writes 1984 novel about the future.

1950 First Sailor Circus performs; is an extension of a Sarasota High School PE class.

Chamber of Commerce launches drive to increase city's population to 20,000.

Work begins on Sarasota Junior High School.

Ken Thompson starts his long career as Sarasota City Manager.

County buys first voting machines.

The West Coast Inland Navigation District begins condemning land along Sarasota County bays and waterways in preparation for dredging.

The Cocoon House on Bayou Louise, Siesta Key is designed by architects Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph. It has flexible suspension roof of plastic covered boards held in tension by steel rods.

World population is about 2.3 billion. U.S. population is 150,697,999; illiteracy is 3.2% in U.S.

U.N. reports that of the 800 million children in the world, 480 million are undernourished.

U.S. troops are sent to aid South Korea. (1950 - 1953)

Great Brink's Inc. robbery; $2.8 million; Boston. 

Pres. Truman authorizes production of H-bomb. 

U.S. sends 35 military advisors to South Viet Nam.

MacKinlay Kantor's novels are banned as obscene in Dubuque, Iowa. 

Ohio State wins Rose Bowl football game over California 17-14.

New York wins World Series over Philadelphia 4-0.


1951 The old, 18th century, Asolo Theater is moved to Sarasota in crates from Asolo, Italy and installed in the Ringling Museum of Art.

Palm Tree Playhouse (later Theatre Works) debuts with professional theater staged by Stuart Lancaster (grandson of Charles Ringling.)

Paramount Pictures and Cecil B.DeMille start the filming of "The Greatest Show on Earth" with John Ringling North, circus executive, playing himself. 

USS Sarasota visits its namesake anchoring 2 miles off Lido Beach and enjoys Sarasota's hospitality. The crew stages a mock invasion of Lido Beach.

General MacArthur is relieved of his Far East command.

Peace treaty with Japan is signed in San Francisco.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and sentenced to death for spying against US.

Popular films: "The African Queen" (John Houston) with Bogart and Katherine Hepburn; "An American in Paris" (Minnelli) with Gene Kelly, Academy Award; "Streetcar Named Desire" with Brando.

Color TV is first introduced in the US.

1952 The film "The Greatest Show on Earth" premiers in Sarasota with a parade down Main St. with elephants and giraffes all the way to Florida Theater. (Formerly Edwards Theatre, now Opera House.) Stars Dorothy Lamour, Betty Hutton, Charlton Heston, Gloria Graham, Cornel Wilde, and many circus performers and local Sarasotans.

Work begins on Booker High School. 

Work begins on Phillippi Shores Elementary School.  

Work begins on Venice Elementary School.   

Venice Hospital is dedicated.

Paul Rudolph, architect, designs the Sanderling Beach Club on Siesta Key. (Now on the Register of Historic Places.)

Fishing is great. See the big catch at Midnight Pass, Siesta Key.

Cecil B. DeMille's "Greatest Show on Earth" wins Academy Award.

Ernest Hemingway earns the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.

G.I. "Bill of Rights" is signed by Pres. Truman.

Eva Peron of Argentina dies.

During the month of August 16,000 people escape from East Berlin to West Berlin, Germany.

Albert Schweitzer wins the Nobel Peace Prize.


1953 Asolo Theater is opened. New York City Center Opera Co., presents Abduction from the Seraglio. (January 10)

Sarasota hosts the world premier of Warner Brothers film Under the Little Bigtop, featuring Sarasota High School Sailor Circus. (March 1)

General Dwight D.Eisenhower inaugurated as President.

Queen Elizabeth II of England is crowned.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climb to the summit of Mt. Everest.

1954 Work begins on Venice High School.

Sarasota County buys beach property for public beach on Siesta Key.

Sarasota is a popular tourist destination. 1, 2, 3

War Memorial is moved to Gulfstream Ave.

Racial segregation in public schools is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. (May 17)

Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine is administered to school children.

Films of the year: "On the Waterfront" (Kazan) and "Rear Window" (Hitchcock).

1955 The first store in new Ringling Shopping Center opens, a Publix Market.  This is Sarasota's first shopping center.

Modern Sarasota Memorial Hospital opens.

Work begins on Brookside Junior High School. Ralph and William Zimmerman, architects.

Town of Longboat Key is incorporated.

Sunshine Springs and Gardens opens on Proctor Rd.( east of where I-75 is now) with the water skiing Aquabelles.

West Coast Symphony building is built.

Sarasota city ordinance is amended so persons under 21 can bowl. Present ordinance did not allow anyone under 21 inside a bowling alley.(Oct.)

The Supreme Court orders school desegregation "with all deliberate speed." (May 31)

Blacks boycott the segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama.

Cape Haze Marine Laboratory (later Mote Marine) is established in Charlotte Co.with shark expert Dr. Eugenie Clark as director

"Sugar" Ray Robinson wins the world boxing championship.

Atomic generated power is first used the the US.

Dorothy Hodgkin discovers the vitamin B12.

1956 MacKinlay Kantor wins Pulitzer Prize and other awards for his novel Andersonville.  He raps Sarasota board on the Negro beach issue. (See article.)

The Circus Hall of  Fame opens across from the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport with more than 5,000 attendees.

William Selby dies of leukemia.The William G.and Marie Selby Foundation that he formed a year earlier as a charitable trust leaves assets of over $10 million to support hundreds of local institutions with project and scholarship grants. 

Work begins on new Nokomis Elementary School.

The Chamber of Commerce has open house for its new blue tile roof building on US 41.

Maas Bros. opens "the largest department store between Tampa and Miami" on Main St.

Rock 'n Rock dance is popular with youth.

Elvis Presley achieves national fame with his song, "Heartbreak Hotel."

Dr. Sabin develops an oral polio vaccine.

Baseball great, Cornelius McGillicuddy "Connie Mack", dies.(Grandfather of Florida's Senator Connie Mack.)

American actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Transatlantic cable telephone service is started.

Eisenhower is reelected President, Nixon as vice president. Congress is Democratic. Eisenhower appoints William J. Brennan to the Supreme Court.

Fidel Castro lands in Cuba intent on overthrowing the government of dictator Batista.

1957 County starts a $4.5 million school building program. Work begins on Booker Junior High School

Work begins on Riverview High School built with precast concrete sunshades; architect is Paul Rudolph of the Sarasota School of Architecture.  

Work begins on Venice Junior High School (now incorporated with Venice High School).

Work begins on the new Englewood Elementary School. Bolton McBride,West, Waters architects.

Work begins on Alta Vista Elementary School. Victor Lundy, architect. 

A  new $75,000 pool for Newtown residents is dedicated. (Admission for children within the city limits is ten cents; twenty cents within the county; and fifty cents for those outside Sarasota Co.

Early hard freeze comes on Dec.12-13.

Southgate Shopping Center opens with 20 stores.

EMR  starts an electronics engineering and manufacturing company producing telemetry systems and other measuring products for the space (NASA) and aeronautics industry. (Later called Loral Data Systems.)

Dr. Seuss publishes The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch that Stole Christmas.

U.S.S.R. launches satellites Sputnik I, and, one month later, Sputnik II, which carries a live dog.

Leonard Bernstein's Westside Story musical plays in NYC.

Major John Glenn, Jr. sets record speed for a jet from California to NY in just over 3 hours, 23 seconds.

Bobby Fischer,13 years old, emerges as a chess champion.

John F. Kennedy wins Pulitzer Prize for his book Profiles in Courage.

1958 Rain and cold weather cancel the Sara de Sota Pageant and parade.

Dave Garrison originates his TV show at the Ringling Museum. Cold rain continues. (Feb.)

John Ringling North announces that the circus is leaving Sarasota.

US 41 is rerouted along the bayfront.

Residents are upset about reappraisals of county property for tax purposes.

Work begins on Brentwood Elementary School Gene Leedy, architect.

The Red Sox leave town.

John Davidson opens a small Siesta Key pharmacy.

NASA is established for space exploration.

De Gaulle is elected President of France.

The beatnik movement starts in California and moves to NYC and Europe.

Arnold Palmer wins his first Masters golf tournament.

Florida residents protest the state intangible tax.

1959 Arvida Corp., founded by 92 year old Arthur Vining Davis a year earlier, purchases the southern half of Longboat Key, most of Lido and all of Bird, Cotter and Coon  keys form the Ringling estate for $13.5 million.

Blue Star Memorial Highway marker placed on U.S. 41 near Island Park, tribute to U.S. Armed Forces. (March 26)

City of North Port Charlotte (later shortened to North Port) is incorporated. This community is planned  by the General Development Corporation.

Work begins on Booker Elementary School. 

The Ringling Causeway is dedicated.

For the first time, Negro golfers play the Bobbie Jones Golf Course.

Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba. many Cubans flee to U.S.

Alaska and Hawaii become 49th and 50th states, respectively.

USSR launches a rocket with two monkeys aboard.

RNA and DNA are discovered.

Pope John XXIII announces first Ecumential Council since. 1870.


1960 New College, a liberal arts college,  is established on the grounds of the former Charles Ringling estate.

A group of FSU students and faculty from the speech dept. produce the first Asolo Theater Festival on a budget of $5,000.

Hurricane Donna forces evacuation of Keys and closing of Sarasota schools. See the diagram of the route and wind forces statewide and in Sarasota. See the comic about Hurricane Donna.

Chicago White Sox begin spring training.

Cape Haze Laboratory (later Mote Marine) moves to the south end of Siesta Key.

Map of Sarasota from Visitors' Guide.

See what  the intersection of US 41 and Bee Ridge roads look like.

The Garden Club is built including Japanese screens and gardens.

Construction begins on Cardinal Mooney High School.

The circus moves their winter headquarters to Venice.

Warm Mineral Springs celebrates 400 years.See doc.

Sarasota Opera Company is organized.

Francis Gary Power's U-2 plane shot down over U.S.S.R.

Flagler Museum opens in Palm Beach.

Physicist Theodore Maiman develops the first laser.

Brasilia, a newly designed city, replaces Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil.

First weather satellite launched by the US transmits TV images of cloud cover around the world.

Harper Lee wins Pulitzer Prize for her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, about racial prejudice in a small Southern town.

Brezhnev becomes President of the U.S.S.R.

Historic TV debate of  presidential candidates John F. Kennedy (Democrat) and VP Richard M. Nixon (Republican).

Kennedy wins election as first Irish-Catholic president of US.

Game show "21" is  part of perjury scandal when it is learned Charles van Doren and other contestants were given answers to questions before the show.

1961 Sarasota author, MacKinlay Kantor, writes his book Spirit Lake.

Sarasota badly disrupted, two elephants, Ruth and Eva, get away from their trainer, Nick Oullette. Police called to unsnarl traffic on Oriente Ave.

Work begins on McIntosh School.

Work begins on Tuttle Elementary School.

Inland waterway is dredged between Roberts and Lemon bays  creating "the island" of Venice.

Alan B. Shepard, Jr. in first U.S. manned sub-orbital space flight.

"Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba fails.

Peace Corps is established by Pres. Kennedy.

Berlin Wall is built to divide territories of East and West Germany in that city.

Bobby Fischer,17, wins US chess championship for the 4th time.

Inland waterway dredging creates new shorelines between Ft. Myers and Tarpon Springs.

1962 Storm causes Phillippi Creek to flood surrounding area.

Siesta Beach Pavilion is built; designed by Tim Seibert of the  Sarasota School of Architecture.

NAACP sues the Board of Public Instruction of Sarasota County over desegregation.(See doc.)

Bay Haven School becomes the first elementary school in the county to have an integrated school program with 29 black students enrolling in September. In November the P.T.A. is given approval by the school board to start a kindergarten at no expense to the district. See a fund-raising flyer.

Sarasota County is in dire need of new, updated textbooks. Read about the problem in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The Opera Guild is formed by patrons.

U.S. troops are sent to South Vietnam to assist in training (after great escalation, U.S. troops are withdrawn in 1973).

U Thant elected UN Secretary General.

James Meredith, a Black applicant to the University of Mississippi, is denied admission because of his race. After a court order, US Marshals and 3,000 soldiers suppress riots as he begins attending classes.

Rachel Carson writes her book Silent Spring about toxins in the environment .  

1963 Booker High School becomes one of the first 37 Negro schools in the South to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. This is through the efforts of  their principal, Roland W. Rogers, who has been principal of Booker High since 1946.

Desilu Productions films a TV series also called "The Greatest Show on Earth" at the Venice circus winter quarters with Jack Palance as the circus boss and Tuesday Weld as an aerialist (with a stand-in.)

Gulf Gate is a new Sarasota community. See ad.

Sarasota's Terrace Hotel is an inviting place for tourists to stay.  (Now it is County Administration bldg.)



Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested during civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama.

President Kennedy is assassinated. (November 22) Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president.

Golfer Jack Nicklaus wins his first Masters tournament.

Both Black and White Freedom Marchers numbering 200,000 demonstrate for civil rights in Washington, D.C.


First King Neptune Frolics are held.

Floridaland with 10 different theme parks opens just south of Blackburn Point Road. Tickets to all attractions are $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for kids. See these other pictures of Floridaland.

Bond issue for $1.35 million is approved by the voters for a city-owned performing arts building (later called Van Wezel).

Architect I.M. Pei designs dormitories for New College students.


Beatles become world-wide celebrities. Their song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" tops the charts.

Discotheques (discos) are popular dance spots with the following dances: Twist, Watusi, Frug, Monkey, and the Funky Chicken..

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize. He also publishes his book called Why We Can't Wait.

Hemingway's Moveable Feast is published.

"Goldfinger" is the newest popular  James Bond movie.

"Fiddler on the Roof" is a popular New York musical.

The World's Fair is in NYC.  A highlight is being able to view Michaelangelo's marble sculpture "The Pieta" on loan from the Vatican in Rome.

Cassias Clay (later Mohammed Ali) becomes the world boxing champion.

1965 Work begins on Gulf Gate Elementary School. 

See the accommodations available on Longboat Key.

The John Ringling Towers are turned into an apartment building.

Texas Jim's Animal Farm & Zoo closes after 30 years.


Vietnam bombing begins.(Feb.7)

INTELSAT, first communication satellite is launched.

Edward White becomes first American to walk in space.

"Op Art" becomes popular using optical illusion in color and form. This also influences fashion and interior design.

Martin Luther King, Jr. leads 4000 civil right demonstrators in Selma, Alabama. Violence breaks out.

1966 Work begins on Gocio Elementary School. 

Work begins on Wilkinson Elementary School. 

Plymouth Harbor, designed by Frank Folsom Smith, becomes Sarasota's tallest building with 25 stories.

Read an editorial for visitors in the Visitor's Guide.

Venice By Pass is opened. (US 41 By Pass)

Edward Brook is elected U.S. Senator, first black since Reconstruction.

The National Preservation Act establishes National Register of Historic Places.

Popular movies: "Help" (The Beatles); "Dr. Zhivago"; and "The Sound of Music" (Julie Andrews.)

Indira Gandhi, daughter of Nehru, becomes Prime Minister of India.

Roman Catholic bishops rule that US Catholics no longer need to give up meat on Fridays except during Lent.

US spacecraft Surveyor I lands on the moon and transmits TV images.

Bombing pause in Vietnam to celebrate Christmas and New Years.

1967 Work begins on Sarasota County Vocational Center.   

Booker High School is closed as part of county integration plan. Students are to go to Riverview or Sarasota High.

Completed West Coast Intracoastal Waterway is dedicated.

With the financial help of Bill Mote, Cape Haze Marine Laboratory becomes Mote Marine Laboratory.

Old City Hall is demolished.(Sept.)

Save Our Bays Assoc. is formed (Dec. 4) as a grass-roots organization to fight Arvida Corp's  proposal to fill more than 170 acres of submerged land around Otter and South Lido keys.

First human heart transplant is performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard.

Expo 67 opens in Montreal.

Summer race riots rage in the inner cities of Cleveland, Newark and Detroit.

Six-Day War between Israel and Arab nations.

Popular movies:"Blow-Up"; "Bonnie and Clyde"; and "Guess Who's Coming for Dinner" (Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey.)



1968 In response to a Save Our Bays ad, more than 200 boats and yachts of all sizes ring the bay area to be developed by Arvida blowing horns, whistles, and bells while the president of Arvida is having lunch with Gov. Kirk at the Bird Key Yacht Club.(Jan.13)

The Sarasota City Commission votes unanimously against the planned Arvida development  by restricting dredging and filling to order to preserve marine life. (Feb. 5)

Work begins on the original Pine View School on Tami Sola Ave.

Sales tax goes up one cent from 3 cents to 4 cents on a dollar.

The county commission discusses putting in parking meters at the beaches.

The County anti-poverty program remains in local hands with Sarasota United Need, Inc.(SUN)

The Democratic convention in Chicago is plagued with riots and political brutality. Americans view it nightly on TV.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated.

Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles just after having won the California Democratic primary for his presidential candidacy.

Richard Nixon is elected president.

Car sales increase in the U.S.

Charlotte Co. ups the base pay for teachers to $6,500. for the 1968-69 school year.

Luna 14 unmanned spacecraft circles the moon.

1969 Lido Casino is demolished. 

The Sailor Circus, "The Greatest Little Show on Earth" moves to a new location on Bahia Vista St. It's been 20 years since it all started at Sarasota High.

Hurricane Camille slaps Gulf Coast-claiming 255 lives.



U.S. Astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the surface of the moon.

Popular films:"Midnight Cowboy"; "Easy Rider"; " Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".

Popular songs: "Aquarius"; " Hair";  "A Boy Named Sue"; " In the Year 2525."

US government takes steps to ban use of the pesticide DDT.

1970 Van Wezel opens with the show Fiddler on the Roof. (January 5)

Kentucky Military Institute in Venice closes.

Sarasota County "turn-in" program starts to collect DDT and other restricted pesticides from homeowners and garderners who can no longer use them unless licensed.



US invades Cambodia.

Kent State University: Four students are killed by young National Guardsmen  during anti-Vietnam War protest on campus. Nationally college students go on strike in protest of the incident; classes and final exams are canceled. (May)

In Florida, 800 UF students peacefully take over the campus auditorium; Gov. Claude Kirk meets and speaks with FSU students following Kent State incident.

Paris Peace talks end after two years of no progress toward peace in Vietnam.

First "Earth Day".

First women U.S. generals are named by Pres. Nixon.

US census has smallest ratio of men to women in history (94.8 to 100.)