Cortez, on Sarasota Bay in Manatee County, is one of the last remaining fishing villages on Florida’s southwest Gulf coast. Easily reached just west of Bradenton, this historic working waterfront is near area beaches, fishing piers and shops. It’s also the place to go for jet skiing, kayaking and parasailing. And don’t miss the Florida Maritime Museum, housed in the restored historic 1912 schoolhouse, itself located on the park-like grounds of the Cortez Nature Preserve. Displayed for your delight, you will find the Banks Shell collection, ship models, historic boats and an enthralling butterfly garden.
Cortez Fishing Village
This old fishing village on Sarasota Bay could easily be confused with an outdoor museum, like Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.Except for one thing. Cortez is no museum.The fish houses that date to the original founding families of this village still sell fresh grouper and shrimp to area restaurants. The N.E. Taylor Boatworks is a working boatyard that traces its lineage to 1928. And those original village settlers have offspring living in the modest 1920s bungalows that pack the narrow roads in the 2-square-mile settlement.Stroll around this time machine of a fishing village of 500 families or so and you will see familiar surnames — the Bells and the Taylors, the Guthries and the Fulfords, the Greens and the Moras. In the 1880s, these families came from the southern edge of the Outer Banks in North Carolina to escape the Atlantic hurricanes and settled in the area known at the time as Hunter’s Point.This Intracoastal fishing spot was ideal, buffered by the barrier islands with deep water access and the Manatee River bringing in fresh water.Cortez is right off Cortez Road — State Road 684 outside Bradenton — and tucked away from the shopping centers, chain restaurants and sprawling apartments only a few miles away. Its vibrancy after all these years is linked to the fierce historic pride of the old fishing families and the three-way partnership between Manatee County, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) and the Cortez Village Historical Society.
Cortez is located at 27°27′49″N 82°40′21″W (27.463550, -82.672610).According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 5.1 square miles (13 km2), of which 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2) is land and 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2) (57.20%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,491 people, 2,373 households, and 1,468 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 2,047.7 people per square mile (791.8/km²). There were 3,308 housing units at an average density of 1,508.3/sq mi (583.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 98.33% White, 0.16% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.16% from other races, and 0.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.31% of the population.There were 2,373 households out of which 9.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 3.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.89 and the average family size was 2.29.In the CDP the population was spread out with 8.6% under the age of 18, 2.4% from 18 to 24, 13.8% from 25 to 44, 30.7% from 45 to 64, and 44.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 62 years. For every 100 females there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.The median income for a household in the CDP was $36,577, and the median income for a family was $48,750. Males had a median income of $32,188 versus $26,735 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $26,476. About 7.3% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.8% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over.