St. Armand's Key
A Frenchman named Charles St. Amand bought property on the island in 1893. His name was misspelled in land deeds, and this misspelled name is still used today.
Visionary circus magnate John Ringling purchased the St. Armands Key property in 1917 and planned a development which included residential lots and a shopping center laid out in a circle. As no bridge to the key had yet been built, Ringling engaged an old paddle-wheel steamboat, the "Success," to service as a work boat.
St. Armands Key features a large roundabout with a small park in the center. This roundabout is known as St. Armands Circle. The area is largely commercial, boasting more than 130 stores and restaurants, and is particularly famous for its home-made chocolate, fudge and ice-cream shops. The circle contains many restaurants, tobacco shops, clothing stores and other retail outlets.
The circle branches off into different directions with the shops on the outside of the circle:
- To the north, State Road 789, which goes to Longboat Key
- U.S. Route 41 to the east, which goes to the city of Sarasota and Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
- Lido Key and Lido Beach, to the south
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