It took a long time for Anna Maria Island to be “put on the map.” The island was hardly populated at the turn of the 20th century, with access only available by boat. But after the development of a bridge connecting the island to the mainland, the population boomed.
It was only a matter of time for Anna Maria Island to become a bustling island paradise filled with trade, incredible fishing, and local attractions. One of the island’s most defining features is the Anna Maria Island City Pier, which was recently closed due to Hurricane Irma for reconstruction.
The pier features impeccable gulf coast fishing and proximity to several nearby lovely local restaurants and stores including Two Sides of Nature, Two Scoops Ice Cream, and the Waterfront Restaurant.
The Creation of the Pier
The Anna Maria Island Development Company sought to provide dockage for large and small ships, and built the pier in 1911 to 1912 for this purpose.
The group built the pier for the import and export fish off Florida’s west coast into Tampa and St. Petersburg. The pier remained a local staple from its inception. But upon the pier’s centennial, it faced one of its major challenges.
Storms and Rebuilding
The city pier has survived a number of major storms, but only upon the insistence of a dedicated and loyal community willing to push for redevelopment and restoration. Storms knocked the pier in the mid-70’s, again in 1988, and another major hit in 2012.
In 2016, the city dedicated about $1.7 million to the pier’s full restoration, supplying a steady stream of support for the many local Anna Maria island restaurants.
The Pier’s Greatest Challenge Yet: The Aftermath of Irma
History is still unfolding for the Anna Maria Island City Pier as 2017’s Hurricane Irma caused significant damage to it. The city pier is expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future due to damage from Irma. Currently, $1.5 million is set aside to rebuild the entire pier from scratch, as stated by Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy.
For the new construction, metal will be utilized over wood to make the pier superior than it was before and more resistant to potential future hurricanes, according to ABC Action News. Although the pier is closed off to the public at the moment, the surrounding shops and stores are still open, as well as nearby Bayfront Park.
Immortalizing the City Pier
There is a current debate over what to do with engraved planks on the soon to be replaced pier. There are over 1,100 engraved wooden planks that recognize family members, friends, loved ones and even pets, including Commission Dale Woodland’s now deceased dog. The city explored the creation of a memorial from the planks to celebrate contributors to the original pier and other local and inspiring leaders.
Some are suggesting the memorial planks could be returned to their respective owners or the closest family. The final answer was a bit of both, as reported by the Bradenton Herald. Some of the planks are expected to be utilized in an ongoing memorial project for 2019 and some planks were returned upon request. Locals are even able to inscribe messages in unmarked planks for the yet-to-be-determined memorial.
The memorial will solidify the cultural identity of Anna Maria Island and its famous long-standing pier while providing another fascinating historical site to explore for new visitors. There is no definitive deadline for when the pier will be fully repaired and open to the public again. But, it is not a matter of if, but when.
Pine Avenue and the area around the pier remains bustling, along with dozens of other attractions, shops, stores, and beaches throughout Anna Maria Island. Explore them and many other things to do by staying at one of our Anna Maria Island beachfront rentals for your next trip to our coastal haven.
Find Your Anna Maria Island Accommodations
Explore Anna Maria Island’s welcoming beaches. Contact us at (941)-778-4178 to stay at some of the top Anna Maria island resort rentals while you lounge on the deck or patio, spy for dolphins, and enjoy the many iconic local natural attractions.
It’s just the kind of place where you can let loose.