Stories behind those famous names

Most people who move to Bradenton soon learn the city was named after an early settler in the area, Dr. Joseph Braden.

But what about the other, more obscure monikers on the buildings, places or streets we pass every day? Unless we have an intimate connection, such as attending Ballard Elementary School, we probably wouldn't know the origins of the names. Maybe you've sat behind home plate in McKechnie Field, quaf-fing a couple of cold ones and wondered, "Who in the heck is McKechnie?" Of course, he has to be someone famous. Matter of fact, he's William Boyd McKechnie. What, still don't know who he is? Well, old William played with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1910-21 before becoming their coach for a year. He managed the Pirates from 1922-25 and took them to a World Series championship in 1925. When McKechnie retired the moved to Bradenton and is even buried here. Sometimes newcomers get confused, such as with the Green Bridge. It's not green. It's named after E.P. Green, a Bradenton mayor and businessman and member of the Florida State Road Department board. Completed in 1927 at a cost of $1 million, it was replaced in 1987 and the alignment on the Bradenton side was changed from 10th Street West to Ninth Street West. Most people can figure out who the other traffic bridge crossing the Manatee River into Bradenton is named after Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer who is said to have landed on the shore of Manatee County to begin his trek through the Southeast in the 1539. But many don't know that the riverfront street in front of City Centre Barcarrota Boulevard is named after the conquistador's hometown in Spain. Ever since the Hernando de Soto Historical Society was founded 69 years ago, Bradenton has had a special connection with de Soto's birthplace. The two are Sister Cities and dignitaries are exchanged through the year during the DeSoto Heritage Festival and other special events. There are many more interesting stories to be found in the names of the various places, things and streets in Bradenton all to be discovered through research at the Manatee County Central Library, which is located downtown on Barcarrota Boulevard. And now you know where that name came from.