Originally named Cayo Hueso by the Spaniards, Key West has seen its share of shipwrecks, bootleggers, eccentric boat captains and famous writers. This is our guide to the unique history of Key West.
Unrelated to the sloppy joe sandwich, Sloppy Joe was actually a real Key West character.
Mario Sanchez is considered one of the most significant Cuban American folk artists of the 20th Century. A Key West native, Sanchez worked with wood and paint, mostly creating bas relief carvings that reflect images of earlier times on the island that were never captured in photos. Today, his artworks hang in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., as well as the Gallery on Greene in Key West.
In 1978, the island’s then-mayor McCoy was inspired to make the 100+ mile journey because of a challenge from a local reporter and chance conversation with President Jimmy Carter. Thirty years later, famous long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Key West. Here’s another aspect of what makes Key West known as “Key Weird.”
The coral reef off the coast of the Florida Keys is the third-largest in the world and the only living reef in the continental United States. Each year, thousands of tourists visiting Key West snorkel the reef to swim with tropical fish and check out diverse coral species. Here’s a look at its diverse habitats, ways to visit it, and reef-friendly practices that will ensure its longevity.
Conch blowing contests have a long history on the island, put on during the Old Island Days celebrations started in the 1960s.
Its mix of quirky epitaphs, odd stories, wild iguanas, and the beloved interred are what you can expect at the Key West Cemetery.
Former mayor of Key West, bootlegger, fisherman, sailor, gambler, bar owner and father of 13, Capt. Tony was a Key West personality whose spirit has left an impression on the island.
One of America's greatest playwrights called Key West home for over 30 years.
Shipwrecks off the coast have provided the island with treasures for centuries. Here's a look at the Conch Republic's history as a wrecking town.
Pan American World Airways didn’t survive the times, but the quaint little house that sold Pan Am’s first tickets did.
During your visit to Key West, a visit to the old turtle cannery is a must. But first, read about the history of the turtle meat industry on the island.
Not only does Key West celebrate the sunsets daily at Mallory Square with live music, jugglers and other live acts working the crowd, but the “green flash” of sunset continues to elude onlookers.
These three non-native animals have found the warm climate of the Keys and Southern Florida especially favorable.
It’s only customary you stop by Capt. Tony's Saloon while in Key West and enjoy live music and a mixed drink. It’s located right off Duval Street, just steps away from Sloppy Joe’s.
Here’s a list of musicians, writers, sitting presidents, celebrities and baseball players who have all called Key West home.
In this installment, we’ll look at all the big and small records held by our humble, southernmost island.
The island has changed dramatically since Ernest Hemingway arrived with his wife in 1928, but some of his favorite spots still stand today.
As part of our Key Weird Series we’ll delve into all the odd details of what makes Key West so weird.
If you’re into Florida Conch architecture, good eats and a diverse Caribbean culture, Bahama Village is worth a visit.
In honor of the Conch Republic’s colorful, boozy past, we’ve rounded up some of the peculiar bars on the island that all have a story to tell.
A love story or tale of prolonged, demented obsession?
Thinking of planning a trip to Dry Tortugas National Park?
Like all things Key West, the island town’s theater has an unique past.
Key West’s tropical island characteristics has attracted many crews to film on its bright beaches through the decades.
On September 4, 1622, a fleet of Spanish ships set sail from Havana en route to Spain. They were loaded down with treasure from the New World - gold, silver, emeralds and pearls.
Photo courtesy of Florida Keys Public Library
Ernest Hemingway’s time in Key West has been well-documented over the years - and best re-lived by Conchs during July’s annual Hemingway Days, as well as tourists in their frequent bar hops.
Key West is filled with ghost stories. From lingering lovers to ghastly murders, the island is not without its share of haunted history. While ghost-hunters say these supernatural phenomenon can be seen year-round, we especially like to call forth the Halloween spirit in the month of October.
From the Scott DeWolfe Collection (https://www.flickr.com/photos/keyslibraries/6315815506/) at the Florida Keys Public Library
Key West and 24 North Hotel share much more with Cuba than the same latitude line (24° N) – they have an entire history together. These days, you may be hard-pressed to find more Cuban mementos on Key West than a café con leche, cigars and rum, yet there was a time when Key West was more Cuban than American.
Key West has long been the stomping grounds of notable Americans and noteworthy historical sites. Here are our favorite landmarks for the history buffs: