Our inaugural issue in 1979.

Image: Staff

This year, Sarasota Magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary. That’s a long time in the universe of city magazines. Our editors spent months poring over 40 years of back issues. That might sound tedious, but it felt more like flipping through photo albums of our childhood. We giggled—oh, those hairstyles and fashions from the ’80s and ’90s—and older editors reminisced about days before laptops and email when the trusty phone book was where we looked when we wanted to interview someone.

Susan Burns

Image: Lori Sax

We also had moments of melancholy. Time is passing, people are gone, places change. We saw our younger selves in a younger city on those pages. Sarasota was still a sleepy coastal getaway in 1979; traffic was never a topic of conversation; sea level rise sounded sci-fi; and the county was home to fewer than 200,000 residents.

Today, Sarasota County has 420,000 people in a region approaching 800,000. We gripe about gridlock and worry about climate change. And yet, in many ways, Sarasota feels better than ever. We’re thrilled about all the people we see downtown, our exploding arts scene, the philanthropy of new residents and the major civic and cultural projects looming on the horizon.

One thing, however, has remained constant: our love of telling the stories of Sarasota. Magazine journalism is not a lucrative perch, but it is a privileged one. Editors get to ask strangers about their lives; we have access to decision makers; we are always discovering and learning about our community. We develop deep connections to this place we love, giving us the feeling of belonging that we all long for.

Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mike Peters of Mother Goose & Grimm and his wife Marian moved back to Sarasota recently after living in Orlando for 15 years to be with their daughter’s family and grandchildren, and we reconnected when Mike volunteered to draw a cartoon for this anniversary issue. “What brought you back?” I asked them.

“Friends,” said Marian. “As soon as we moved back we were invited to dinners and movies and started meeting so many people. In all the years we lived in Orlando, we didn’t have that.” 

It’s all about connections. You, dear readers and advertisers, have been our friends through all the years. Thank you for allowing us to tell your stories. We hope to be telling them for 40 more.

Show Comments