Who would have guessed that the Conch Republic has a richer history than its laid-back island lifestyle suggests? Key West is full of surprises, and delving into its past is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend some time on the island. From pirates to writers, presidents to poets, Key West has been home to some of the most colorful characters in American history. Check out these historical fun facts about Key West and see for yourself!
Fun Facts About Key West
• The city was founded in 1822 by John Simonton, who was given the land as a reward for his service in the Seminole Wars.
• Key West is the southernmost city in the United States, located 90 miles north of Cuba and just 15 miles from the Dry Tortugas National Park.
• In 1886, Henry Flagler constructed the Florida East Coast Railway, connecting Key West to mainland Florida and establishing it as a major fishing port in the region.
• Ernest Hemingway spent a significant amount of time in Key West, where he wrote some of his most famous novels, including The Old Man and the Sea. His home is now open to visitors and has been declared a National Historic Landmark.
• Key West has been home to many famous presidents, including Harry S. Truman and Jimmy Carter.
• The island is full of interesting architecture, from conch-style homes to the iconic lighthouse that sits atop the highest point on the island.
• The annual Fantasy Fest is one of the most popular events in Key West and has been held for over 40 years. This 10-day festival features costumed parades, art exhibitions, music performances and more.
• The first European to settle in Key West was Ponce de Leon in 1521.
• The island changed hands several times between Spain and England before finally becoming part of the United States in 1822.
• The island has a long and varied history, dating back to the 16th century. Present-day Key West is the result of centuries of influence from many different cultures, and this can be seen in its architecture, cuisine and culture.
• In the 18th century, Key West was a bustling port of call for some notorious pirates. Attracted by its natural protection from the elements, strategic positioning within trade routes and well-disguised waterways, these buccaneers would dock their boats and supply up before setting sail on their next voyage.
• Key West was originally inhabited by the Calusa. They settled there in 300 BCE due to its many freshwater springs.
• In 1953, American playwright Tennessee Williams bought property on the island and was frequently spotted dining out or fishing in his spare time.
• Truman Capote bought a house in Key West in 1959 and became quite well-known in social circles during his time as a resident before moving away in 1964. Key West is also home to a thriving arts community with galleries, museums and theaters all around the island.
• The waters surrounding Key West are home to a variety of marine life, including dolphins, turtles, rays and various species of fish. It’s also a popular spot for scuba diving, snorkeling and other water activities.
• No visit to Key West is complete without trying the world-famous key lime pie. This classic dessert has been a staple of the island for generations and can be found in most restaurants throughout the city.
• Key West is also a popular spot for fishing and boating. The pristine waters surrounding the island are home to a variety of marine life, making it an ideal destination for anglers looking to catch some of the area’s prized catches, such as marlin, sailfish, kingfish, snapper, grouper and more.
Key West is a unique and historically rich destination with plenty of attractions to explore. From the tantalizing smell of Cuban cuisine to the unique and vibrant architecture, the Conch Republic has so much to offer those looking for an exciting travel destination. Key West is also home to some of the most involved and interesting historic sites in Florida. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park are just two of the many examples, but these two remain examples of how far-reaching an impact Key West has had on American history. With all this in mind, a trip to paradise can easily become an unforgettable journey!
What is historical about Key West?
Key West is a delightful destination that has a rich, historical past. Surrounded by the sparkling blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, its historic district is brimming with culture and charm. The cultural landscape of Key West is embodied in architectural landmarks, such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and the iconic Southernmost Point buoy, which signifies “the 90 miles from Cuba.” Additionally, visitors can explore various sites related to Florida’s native history at the Native & Historic Resource Center. There are also plenty of activities to choose from, ranging from sailing excursions to rum distillery tours, with traditional crafts and festivals taking place throughout the year. Key West not only offers spectacular views but also provides an opportunity to experience Key West history right in your backyard.
What is unique about Key West?
Key West, located at the southern end of Florida and only 90 miles away from Cuba, is an island unlike any other. With unique cultures and sights, this tropical island has something for everyone. Key West is home to many historic landmarks, such as the Audubon House & Gardens, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and more — not to mention, the beautiful coral reefs that make up the local waters surrounding the island, which makes it a popular destination for fishing, snorkeling, kayaking and swimming. It’s no wonder so many people are eager to visit paradise!
What are some of the historic landmarks in Key West?
The famous Southernmost Point of the United States, Key West is known for its long-lasting historic presence throughout the years. From brick streets to charming Victorian homes and museums, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy. Notable landmarks include the Ernest Hemingway House, which was once home to the legendary author, as well as the renowned Harry S. Truman Little White House, which served as a makeshift presidential retreat during several of President Truman’s visits. Additionally, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park commemorates Florida’s role in both the Seminole Wars and the Civil War, providing a unique getaway along with some amazing beach access. With such an array of landmarks to explore, Key West truly stands out among other U.S. cities in terms of history and charm.