Early settler Frank Higel gave this place the name Venice in 1888. In 1911 the railroad arrived, and Chicago businesswoman Bertha Honore Palmer began selling building lots from her 60,000-acre holdings.
In 1925 Dr Fred H Albee bought 2,916 acres and asked renowned city planner John Nolen of New York to plan a town, but before building could start, Albee sold his land to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. The union retained Nolen, who modified his plan somewhat before building began in 1926.
The Florida land boom brought many people to Venice to work and live, but the Depression brought debt and the collapse of development. With World War II, development recommenced at the Venice Army Air Corps Base (now Venice Municipal Airport).
After the war, Venice saw slow but steady growth, and as the Baby Boom generation approached retirement age, the real estate boom returned.
I first visited Venice Florida in 1959 at the age of 14. My grandparents had retired to this sleepy little Gulf Coast town, so our family piled into our 1959 Plymouth station wagon and made the 1300-mile (2100-km) trip south from Pennsylvania.
What a delightful place! We kids immediately made for the beach: swimming, sunning, biking, looking for fossil sharks’ teeth. Our Florida vacation ended all too soon!
Sixty years later, I’m still making trips to Venice and staying in the same little house. Venice has grown astonishingly in size, facilities and sophistication, but it’s still the Gem on the Gulf. I love spending time here!
I’ve been a travel writer since 1968, with guidebooks published by Frommer’s, Berlitz and Lonely Planet, and websites to New England USA, France, Turkey and other destinations. It’s a delight to bring you information on my favorite Florida city. More…