Although more than 150,000 people living in South Sarasota County have a Venice postal address, the city itself has a population of only about 18,600 people in the summer and about 24,000 people in the winter. The south county area stands out as one of the most desirable areas to live in all of Florida. It's not too citified, still with much rural charm, yet with the facilities needed for comfortable living and a great place to open businesses and raise families.
For the citizen or visitor wishing to spend his or her leisure hours enjoying the sun, the greater Venice area provides one of the finest systems of public beaches. Whether your preference is a primitive beach in its natural state, or a developed beach with all of the amenities, the choice is yours. Sarasota County began a "dune restoration service" program in 1981 that is designed to work with nature and strengthen the natural balance of the beaches. In addition, an $18.7 million nourishment program was completed and the project has widened the beaches by 150 to 300 feet along a mile stretch of Gulf front from the Venice jetties to the fishing pier.
Venice enjoys a rich and varied heritage. Settlers began arriving in this region in the 1860s after the U.S. Congress passed the Homestead Act, offering 160 acres of federal land free to each homesteading family. The city was founded by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1926. The BLE hoped to build a planned retirement community in the area and hired renowned city planner, John Nolan, to plan the city. A famous landscape architect, Prentiss French, was also appointed to create the lovely open spaces in the city.
The northern Italian Renaissance architectural theme was chosen and a town of grace and beauty began to grow along the golden sands and blue-green waters. But the Great Depression stopped all development for several years and Venice remained a tiny fishing village until the 1950s, when it started to grow once again.
Today's Venice is a cultural melting pot featuring a blend of residents and industries from cattle ranchers to fishermen, from orange groves to turpentine stills and from Seminole Indians to dedicated public servants, all working together to create the captivating city on the gulf that is Venice.
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