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Sarasota is a city in the central west coast of Florida. The Gulf of Mexico is to the west and Sarasota Bay separates portions of this city that is composed of a mainland and its barrier islands, known as keys.

As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 52,715. There's a distinction between the actual city and the perceived city. Most residents of what is known as "Sarasota" actually live in unincorporated parts of Sarasota County. Some even live in Manatee County because Sarasota was considered to reach Bowlees Creek before Sarasota County was created in 1921 out of a portion of Manatee County.

Recognized as the cultural center of the state of Florida since the early 1920s, artists of many disciplines, writers, performers, musicians, and architects have been attracted to the community in great numbers. Sarasota is the home of Florida West Coast Symphony, founded by Ruth Cotton Butler in 1949, and its famous Sarasota Music Festival which draws students, musicians, professors, and lovers of chamber music from around the world for a three-week event of international importance; Sarasota Ballet; Sarasota Opera; The Players; and numerous other musical, dance, artistic, and theatrical venues.

Golf was introduced into the United States in Sarasota, which became a mecca for enthusiasts of the game. Bobby Jones laid out the city course which is named after him and the SaraBay course in the Whitfield area. Many courses dot the area, including the one originally laid out for the hotel John Ringling planned on the southern tip of Longboat Key.

Sarasota also is home to Ed Smith Stadium, where the Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati's major league baseball MLB team, trains in spring for the upcoming season, and is home to the minor league Sarasota Reds.


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