Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Harding Circle


Discolobus, originally uploaded by zuctronic.

On my first full day in Bradenton / Sarasota, Florida, I decided to just go poke around the beaches a little to see what interesting things I might find. I didn't really do too much reading about the area before I arrived and just wanted to do some exploration on my own.

After driving around Bradenton a little bit and making the determination that it was similar to any far-out Chicago suburb, I made my way south to Sarasota. The downtown area is quite built up with larger office buildings and hotels. I took the bridge out to St. Armand's Key and found a shopping district called Harding Circle.



"In 1923 circus magnate John N. Ringling (1866-1936) purchased St. Armands Key, an uninhabited, 150-acre, oval-shaped island. He planned a community of fine residences wit a central circle park surrounded by shops. The park was named in memory of his friend, President Warren Harding (1865-1923). The landscape plan for the island consisting of the central park, boulevards and medians, was designed by a prominent landscape architect, John J. Watson (1876-1950). The development work was done by Ringling's partner, Owen Burns (1869-1937). The grand opening of St. Armands occurred in 1928 when the bridge to the mainland was completed. Lots were sold and subsequently a few homes of Mediterranean and Spanish architecture were built. Although the Depression (1929-1941) halted the progress of his plan, John Ringling's vision was realized with the development of the residential area, beaches and shopping district since 1945. On January 16, 2001, Harding Circle with its associated medians and boulevards, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its unique early community planning and development."


Toward the east side of the circle is a small sculpture garden collectively called Allegory of Sarasota, Its Seven Virtues. I took pictures of the statues and the sign, which says:

John Ringling foresaw Sarasota as a "metropolitan city" distinguished by its cultural facilities. Having built Ca d'Zan on his 66-acre estate on Sarasota Bay, events were set in motion that would fulfill Ringling's vision. This complex, now affiliated with the Florida State University, also boasts theaters, a circus museum, and research facilities. Over time, the Sarasota Concert Band (successor to the Czecho-Slovakian National Band brought to Sarasota by Ringling in 1925), Ringling College of Art and Design (co-founded by Ringling in 1931), Florida West Coast Symphony (1949), Mote Marine Laboratory (1955), New College (1960), Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall (1968), Selby Gardens (1975), and others too numerous to mention were added, fulfilling Ringling's observation: "Though Life is Short, Art is Long".

Allegory of Sarasota, Its Seven Virtues, copyright 2007, conceived and designed by Edward Pinto, was dedicated on February 2, 2008, to John Ringling and countless others who created the cultural jewel of Florida.

MUSIC - representing the performing arts;
FLORA* - representing our natural beauty;
ARISTOTLE - representing our educational and research facilities;
SCULPTURE* - representing our painting and sculpture;
ASCLEPIUS, god of medicine - representing medicine's gifts;
BOUNTY - representing the bounty of land and sea; and
AMPHRITRITE, wife of Neptune, - representing our gulf and bays.
* denotes replica of statue in the Ringling Museum collection

I walked around and snapped some pictures of the statues and green spaces and then got back in the car to look for some views of the mainland and the gulf.



1 comment:

luna said...

i've lived in tampa bay for 12 years, and this whole post was news to me!