Sarasota is a city located in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the U.S. state of Florida. It is south of the Tampa Bay Area and north of Fort Myers. Its current official limits include Sarasota Bay and several barrier islands between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
These islands separating Sarasota Bay from the gulf near the city, known as keys, include Lido Key and Siesta Key, which are famous worldwide for the quality of their sandy beaches.
Today the keys that are included in the boundary of Sarasota are Lido Key, St. Armands Key, Otter Key, Coon Key, Bird Key, and portions of Siesta Key. Previously, Siesta Key was named Sarasota Key. At one time, it and all of Longboat Key were considered part of Sarasota and confusing contemporaneous references may be found discussing them.
Longboat Key is the largest key separating the bay from the gulf, but it is now evenly divided by the new county line of 1921. The portion of the key that parallels the Sarasota city boundary that extends to that new county line along the bay front of the mainland was removed from the city boundaries at the request of John Ringling in the mid-1920s, who sought to avoid city taxation of his planned developments at the southern tip of the key. Although they never were completed in the quickly faltering economy, those development concessions granted by the city never were reversed and the county has retained regulation of those lands ever since.