Monday, August 30, 2021

Fun facts about Key West, Florida

 Some fun and interesting facts about Key West, Florida

Southernmost point buoy Key West Florida
Photo credit: Aaron S. Robertson

I visited Key West between August 16-21, 2021, and this blog post is part of my broader Key West travel series. Stay tuned for plenty more material in the series, as I look forward to sharing with you my trip to Key West through recollections, stories, histories of the island and some of its more well-known residents, reviews, travel tips, and of course, more photos!

The wealthiest city in the United States per capita during the 1830s

You read that right - Key West was the wealthiest city per capita in the country during the 1830s. TravelExperta points out that much of the wealth during this time was generated from, "...treasure retrieval from shipwrecks off the coast." notes that Key West was the wealthiest and largest city in Florida in the years leading up to the Civil War, and it still remained near the top of the list for the wealthiest cities in the country during this time.

The only Union city south of the Mason-Dixon line during the Civil War

There were definitely Confederate sympathizers in Key West, no doubt, but Union forces were able to retain a tight grip on the city, thanks in large part to their control of Fort Zachary Taylor on the island, as well as Fort Jefferson some 70 miles west. It also certainly helped, as this post from the blog entitled, "Key West - The Confederate City that Seceded from the Civil War," points out, that good portions of the residential population at the time were originally either from New England or the Bahamas, and therefore had no particular interest in fighting for the South - or for anyone, for that matter. These factors combined to award Key West the unique distinction of being the only Union city in the South.

Never above 100 degrees 

While walking the streets of downtown Key West, I overheard the tour guide/driver of a tour trolley explaining to his passengers that Key West, as hot and as muggy as the climate is, has never recorded a temperature over 100 degrees. This blog post from June 2017 entitled, "10 Cities in United States That Have Never Been Above 100 Degrees," published on the Joe Dorish Weather blog, confirms this.

Duval Street - the longest street in the world?

At just 1.25 miles long, Duval Street, the heart of the downtown Key West scene, can playfully boast that it's the longest street in the world - it runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

That's a lot of bridges!

There are 42 bridges connecting the island to the Florida mainland. 

The Conch Republic - Key West secedes from the United States for a brief time in the 1980s!

You read that right, as well. For a very short time in 1982, Key West declared independence from the United States, and the Conch Republic was born. While the secession was largely in good fun and playful in nature, the frustration and annoyance felt by residents and business owners leading up to it was certainly real. The U.S. Border Patrol had set up a roadblock and checkpoint to inspect every car entering or leaving Key West for drugs and anyone here in the country illegally. You can read more about the formation of the Conch Republic on Wikipedia

Famous residents

Key West was home to, among others, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Major League Baseball star John "Boog" Powell. President Harry Truman visited Key West 11 times, for a total of 175 days, during his presidency. He stayed at a house on a U.S. Navy base. That house is now a museum known as the Truman Little White House.

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