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Sarasota is Special

What Makes Sarasota So Very Special? Story 2 of 12

| Christine Baer |

We’re highlighting some very interesting historical places including Sarasota’s Civic Center and Theatre Arts District. We all love Sarasota, no doubt; now, learning about the fascinating architecture and landmarks will make our piece of paradise even more special. Check-in next week for more history! We hope you enjoy the tour!

These wonderful snippets were given to us by Paul Thorpe (Mr. Downtown) who died in the summer of 2017. He left an amazing legacy of love for family, friends and his beloved Sarasota home and we miss him.

Banyan Tree

Behold the Banyan Tree! This gigantic tropical tree, a member of the ficus – or fig family – starts out as an epiphyte, a plant growing on another plant. Its seeds germinate in the cracks and crevices of other trees. The plant drops aerial roots to the ground that grow into a massive trunk. The original tree, now a host, supports the build of the new tree. Often the host dies and the banyan now becomes a hollow tree. Native to India, the banyan was imported to the United States by Thomas Edison in Ft. Myers Florida. That tree now covers one acre of land. The largest banyan is in India. It is over 200 years old and covers 8 acres. In Hinduism, the banyan leaf is said to be the resting place of the god Krishna.

Bayfront Park

Bayfront Park was completed and dedicated in 1992. The roadway entering Marina Jack was once a wooden pier where fishermen could offload the day’s catch. It was also the dock for the area’s first steamship, the “Mistletoe.” This shoal draft ship made trips weekly to Tampa in the 1890’s, and was Sarasota’s only connection to the north before the railroad. In 1913 the Hover Brothers built an arcade at the beginning of the pier. It had two spines joined by an archway. Many small shops called the pier home. All were wiped out in the hurricane of 1921. The archway and columns at the entrance to the park are patterned after that original arcade.

Bijou Café

Believe it or not, this charming upscale café was originally a filling station. Today the structure that was built in the 1920’s to fill the tanks of Ford Model T’s and A’s is known as one of the most longstanding, popular restaurants in downtown Sarasota. The Bijou Café opened in 1986 and has an award-winning wine list and continental cuisine.

Photos courtesy of and Sarasota History Alive website.

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