Our Highlighted City today.....Key West
Inhabited by the fierce Calusa Indians, the Florida Keys area was first sighted and chronicled for the western world by Antonio de Herrea on May 15, 1513, who was searching for the Fountain of Youth with fellow explorer Ponce de Leon. This area became known to fishermen, but also to the treasure-stashing pirates, who were eventually chased away by the U.S. Navy, who established their pirate fleet in Key West in 1822
The U. S. took possession of Florida in the early 1800's, and settlers soon filtered into this southernmost city from the mainland and from the Bahamas. Key West soon became the wealthiest city in the Republic from a thriving shark factory, pineapple plantations and wrecking businesses, which salvaged goods from ships that sunk around the trecherous coral reefs nearby.
In 1845, construction began on Fort Zachary Taylor, soon after Florida became a state. Key West remained in Union hands during the Civil War, as an important outpost since many blockade-running ships were detained at Key West harbor, which was guarded by Fort Taylor. In the years that followed, Fort Taylor was again used during the Spanish-American War.
In 1870 sponge fishing and cigar making became very profitable industries, and, in 1900, Key West was the site of the first overseas telephone call to Havana, Cuba, 90 miles away. In 1912, Henry Flagler's railroad brought wealthy vacationers.
The Depression and the 1935 hurricane brought disaster to Key West. But, with federal aid, the Overseas Highway was build in 1938 with hopes of recreating Key West as a tourist destination. World War II almost wrecked these plans until a submarine base was build for the war effort.
During the administration of President Harry S. Truman, the "Little White House" was his fall and winter vacation home.. This is now known as the Truman Annex
Key West, for years, has undergone a transformation from low-key island to bustling tourist destination, with thousands of visitors daily from cruise ships and the north, who descend on Mallory Square to watch the legendary sunsets. With limited parking, narrow streets, and congested traffic, the best way to get around Key West is by bicycle, or moped. Key West has the 'Southernmost House', 'Southernmost Beach' and 'Southernmost Monument' in the continental United States. Located 90 miles from the coast of Cuba, Key West is famous for it's emerald green waters, white sand beaches, and "Old Town" charm.
Key West has many interesting tourist attraction. There is a Conch Train or Trolley, an aquarium, Mel Fisher's Treasure Exhibit, Ernest Hemingway's house, the Audubon House and a restored "Old Town" area with many unique shops and sights.