Key West - The Island
Key West is the last of the islands of the incredible Florida Keys, a remote chain of islands to the south and west of the Florida mainland. You will know this as you will have driven down the Overseas Highway from the mainland, across Keys and over bridges. Key West has a full time population of 25,000 people and is the Southernmost city in continental United States. We are located 90 miles north of Cuba and 150 miles southwest of Miami. One hundred and fifty years ago Key West, a small town, the crossroads of commerce between Spain, her overseas territories, and the blossoming and growing United States. The island is 4 miles long and 2 miles wide and today the economy is based on tourism. Tourism, or the hospitality industry, relies on a relaxed environment and to help us achieve that level of hospitality Key West has, it is said, more bars per capita than anywhere else in the United States.
Key West - Old Town
Old Town Key West’s historical area, over 2,500 wooden structures are part of the culture, history, and abiding personality that is the magnetic charm of this city. Key West has the greatest concentration of wooden buildings in the state of Florida. The original buildings date from the mid 19th century to the early 20th. Century. Some of the homes are mansions in the true sense of the word and some are more modest. The highest point of land in Key West is 18 feet above sea level. True to Key West’s quirkiness, you may come across some of the over 2,000 stray roosters and chickens, 1,000 stray cats, even the occasional iguana.
Key West - The Waters
The waters surrounding Key West are extremely shallow, if the water level was to drop 300 feet, Florida would double in size on the Gulf of Mexico side. The Florida Keys were formed from ancient coral reef and when the sea level was much higher the entire system of islands, or Keys, were under water. During the last glacier period, the water level dropped and the coral was exposed, calcified, and became limestone. Key West is essentially coral rock, which is what distinguishes a “key” from and island. There is very little dirt or top soil, which makes planting trees extremely hard – and maintaining the foliage even more difficult. Many locals call Key West “the rock”. Here on the rock we have many amazing buildings but one that has stood out since 1891 is the US Custom House. Key West is the second oldest city in Florida, so many of the locations are haunted.