John Ringling Causeway at Bird Key entrance
After John Ringling died in 1936, his sister Ida and nephew John Ringling North became administrators of his estate, which included Bird Key.
In 1951, John Ringling North formed the Bird Key Corporation and acquired about 280 submerged acres from the state. North’s vision of filling the submerged land for development did not materialize.
In 1959, the Arvida Corporation bought 2,000 acres of Ringling property that included Bird Key. The city approved the Arvida plan for a “luxurious island residential haven.”
In October, dredging and filling to enlarge the island to approximately 300 acres began, along with construction of the island’s infrastructure. Encouraged by sales incentives such as a Chris Craft cabin cruiser and a Lincoln Continental, real estate agents sold the first lots that same month.
Bird Key was connected to the city water system in 1964. The Bird Key Yacht Club, built by Arvida in 1960, was transferred to the residents in 1967. By 1972, only three lots remained unsold.
Today, Bird Key is completely developed and is valued by its residents for its history and beauty.