Longboat Key was the vacation land of the Timucuan and Caloosa Indians for hundreds of years. Shellmounds have been found showing that picnics and fish fries were commonplace.
In 1539 Hernando DeSoto is thought to have visited here with his scout, Juan Anasco, manning the "longboat" as it went through the north pass.
In 1891 Civil War veteran Thomas Mann settled with his grown sons on the north end and was awarded 144 acres as a homestead grant. One of his sons received another 144 acres on the southern end of the Key. Mann sold his land around the turn of the century for $500.
Homes were built on the north end of Longboat Key in the early 1900's, some of which are still standing. In the 1920's John Ringling bought hundreds of acres on the south end and planted Australian pine trees along Ringling Boulevard (now Gulf of Mexico Drive) from one end of the island to the other. He also built the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on New Pass, which was started in 1926 but never finished; it was torn down in 1962 after Arvida bought the land.
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Updated: 23rd May, 2019 9:53 PM.