Bradenton/bredntn/BRAY-den-ton is a city in Manatee County, Florida, United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's 2012 population to be 50,672. Bradenton is the largest principal city of the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2007 estimated population of 682,833. It is the county seat. The area that would become Bradenton (originally spelled "Bradentown") was first explored in 1539 by Hernando De Soto, who began his search for the legendary El Dorado at Shaw's Point. The original town of Bradentown was incorporated on May 19, 1903. The city took the name of Dr. Joseph Braden, whose nearby fort-like house was a refuge for early settlers during Seminole Indian attacks. The current city of Bradenton was formed in 1943, when the Florida legislature merged the cities of Manatee (incorporated in 1888) and Bradentown. Historic properties in Bradenton include: According to the United States Census Bureau, Bradenton has a total area of 14.44 square miles (37.4km2). 12.11 square miles (31.4km2) of it is land and 2.33 square miles (6.0km2) of it (16.14%) is water.