Situated on the shores of the Little Manatee River, the town was named after the English writer and social reformist John Ruskin.
By 1913, the community had a cooperative general store, a canning factory, a telephone system, an electric plant supplying electricity to both public and private buildings, a weekly paper, and regular boat freight and passenger service to Tampa.
In 1925, Ruskin’s population remained at 200. It had six hotels, two saw mills, one turpentine still, a public library, the Ruskin Telephone Company, four groceries, one garage, a well driller, two restaurants, a dry goods dealer, a carpenter, and a number of fruit and truck growers. Some of the fields have been cultivated and tomatoes, cabbages, onions and other crops are being raised. There is a nursery established for ornamentals on a favorable site, and in all probability it will become a pretentious place. Thousands of palms are ready for the demand of the markets and streets are being graded in certain portions of the town that lie off the highway.
The soil of Ruskin farms is especially adapted to growing tomatoes. There is a large area of muck land under-laid with marl in this region. The marl base allows irrigation of crops without loss of fertilizer, as the marl prevents the fertilizer from washing too deep into the soil. Irrigation is no problem for Ruskin is favored with numerous artesian wells. Due to the rapid growth of tomato culture and a cooperative arrangement among Ruskin farmers, the town has taken a new lease on life and again is a thriving community. It has a canning plant which employs 65 workers, a community hall and a modern schoolhouse. As part of an attempt to attract visitors to Ruskin and to celebrate the area’s agricultural richness, the community instituted the annual springtime Ruskin Tomato Festival in 1935 where vegetables were displayed and the community’s most popular woman was voted as queen. This Festival still takes place every year in May.
The homes which line Little Manatee River and the inlets that pour into Ruskin offer a place where residents can enjoy fishing, boating, and kayaking from their own backyards. Additional amenities include golfing, a pristine water park on Tampa Bay, and many community events such as the Ruskin Seafood Festival and the Tomato & Heritage Festival take place each year.