Learn Your Keys in 1, 2, 3!
Key West is a landmark city in Florida for a number of reasons. Recognizing its place in history, but also its recent development allows tourists to find more attractions during their stay. In only three steps you’ll not only know how Key West came to be, but what it offers today.
Key West saw a heavy Spanish influence during the American colonial period. Originally inhabited by the Spanish in the 1500s, the British briefly took control of the Florida territory in 1763. The change in power resulted in Native Americans and Spaniards moving to Havana. When Spain reclaimed the territory two decades later, the Cuban influence returned primarily through fishermen. With the new culture ingrained, Key West lacked any true relevance until 1822 when the United States claimed the island without any opposition. Fort Zachary Taylor (which remains today) held an interesting position in the Civil War as it was controlled by Union forces who were sympathetic to the Confederate cause.
Between 1940 and today, Key West has nearly doubled in land size with effective use of landfilling. The population has similarly doubled over that time period. Remarkably, the rise in citizens does not reflect the extreme influx of tourists during the year. Upwards of 900,000 cruise passengers enter the island on an annual basis. With so much of the economy based on tourism, it was unsurprising to see the locals so readily adopt the idea of being the continental United States’ southernmost point.
Modern day Key West has a mixed image with part of the city representing original Cuban routes and the culture that predated modern America. The “New Town” reflects a 21st century tourist destination with a number of attractions and most importantly the Key West International airport. Visitors will find a number of historical sites, as well as a lively night life on Duval Street. The city has evolved into a mish mash of opportunity with representation of numerous generations.