Cortez Fishing Village
Located just west of one of Bradenton’s busiest corridors, nestled on sea grass on the northern end of Sarasota Bay, the Cortez Fishing Village is a place still preserving its past in Florida’s long-time maritime history. Quaint cottages line the residential streets, while many of the area’s historic buildings have been known as Hunters Point and officially became Cortez Fishing Village in 1895. In 1921, the town was nearly destroyed by a hurricane that devastated all of the waterfront businesses and homes. Residents prided themselves on their robust fishing, trading and bartering economy and the town was self-sufficient from government aid during the Great Depression. However, during the mid 1990’s, the village lost much of its livelihood and population when the government banned net fishing to preserve the declining fish population in the local waters. Generations of fishermen were forced to find work in other industries or move away from Cortez.
The Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival attracts thousands of visitors each February. The two-day event celebrates all of Cortez’s old Florida charm with music, boats, arts and crafts, and, of course, seafood. The festival benefits the F.I.S.H. preserve or “the kitchen,” a 100-acre expanse of Sarasota Bay just south of Cortez. F.I.S.H. hopes to protect and restore this natural habitat, once abound with sea life.
Cortez Village now receives a majority of its income from tourism. In 2006, it opened the Florida Maritime Museum in its original 1912 Schoolhouse. The museum educates visitors on the village’s history and traditions with photographs and relics from its rich history. Cortez Village is one of the last working fishing village on Florida’s Gulf Coast and designated on the National Register of Historic Places.
By Sara Mineo