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Helpful Key West Vacation Information

The Florida Keys were first inhabited by the Native American Calusa Tribe.  The Calusa name means "fierce people" and tribal members once numbered approximately 50,000.  At one time they controlled most all of South Florida.  In 1521 Spanish Explorers led by Ponce de Leon first encountered the Calusa people when they visited South Florida for the first time.  After a long history of being passed from Spanish to British control the island was finally purchased in 1821 by John Simonton who successfully lobbied the United States government to establish a naval base there.  The city of Key West is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Key West City Info

  • County Seat of Monroe County
  • Land Area: 5.9 sq. miles
  • Parks: 9
  • Number of radio stations: 2 AM; 12 FM
  • Number of television stations: 8

Key West Weather and Climate:

  • Average daily temperature — Jan: 70?F; July: 85?F
  • Average annual rainfall — 42 inches
  • Average annual snowfall — 0.0 inches

Distances to other Metropolitan Areas from Key West:

  • Atlanta, GA —825 miles
  • Birmingham, AL — 973 miles
  • Charleston, SC — 751 miles
  • Charlotte, NC — 896 miles
  • Chicago, IL — 1545 miles
  • Dallas, TX — 1479 miles
  • Jacksonville, FL — 512 miles
  • Miami, FL —160 miles
  • New Orleans, LA — 1027 miles
  • Orlando, FL — 399 miles
  • Washington, DC - 1223 miles

Key West Safety Phone # and Major Hospitals:

  • Ambulance: 911
  • Police: 911
  • Fire: 911
  • Lower Keys Medical Center
    Address: 5900 W. Junior College, Key West, FL, United States
    Phone: 305-294-5531
  • Boulevard Medical Clinic
    Address: 3428 N Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, FL, United States
    Phone: 305-294-1024
  • Key West Family Medical Center
    Address: 1146 Kennedy Drive, Key West, FL, United States
    Phone: 305-294-8900

Key West Top Tourism Draws and Seasons:

  • Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum
  • Ghost Tours of Key West
  • Harry S. Truman Little White House
  • Mallory Square
  • Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Fort Jefferson
  • Dolphin Research Center
  • Fort Zachary
  • Audobon House & Tropical Gardens
  • Key West Shipwreck Historeum Museum
  • Seven Mile Bridge
  • Key West Lighthouse Museum
  • Southernmost Point in Continental US
  • Fantasy Fest 2010
  • Hemingway Days

Key West Major Shopping Areas:

  • Mallory Square
  • Key West Shops and Boutiques

Key West Major Dining Areas:

  • Mallory Square
  • Front Street
  • Duval Street
  • Roosevelt Boulevard

Key West Famous Landmarks & Historic Places:

  • Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
  • Harry S. Truman Little White House
  • Mallory Square
  • Fort Zachary
  • Seven Mile Bridge
  • Old Seven Mile Bridge
  • Key West Lighthouse and Museum
  • Southernmost Point in the Continental US
  • Flagler Station Oversea Railway Historeum
  • The Oldest House Museum
  • Historic Seapor6t at Key West Bight
  • Hurricane Monument

Key West Famous Natives and Residents:

  • Ernest Hemingway (author)
  • Jimmy Buffet (singer)
  • Wallace Stevens (poet)
  • Tennessee Williams (playwright)
  • Mel Fisher (treasure hunter)
  • David Robinson (basketball player)
  • George Mira (football player)
  • Boog Powell (baseball player)

Notable Moments in Key West History:

  • 1521 — Ponce de Leon was the first European to visit Key West
  • 1763 — Great Britain took control of Florida and the Spanish and Native Americans inhabiting the Key West area were moved to Havana
  • 1815 — Key West deeded to Juan Pablo Salas of Saint Augustine, FL
  • 1821 — Key West sold to businessman John Simonton for $2,000
  • 1823 — Commodore David Porter of the United States Navy took charge of Key West as military dictator under martial law to establish a naval base on the island.
  • 1912 — Railroad bridges completed connecting the keys to the mainland
  • 1935 — Labor Day Hurricane destroyed many of the railroad bridges
  • 1938 — US government rebuilt the Overseas Railway as the Overseas Highway
  • 1980's — The Florida Keys briefly declared independence from the US as a protest over a US border patrol blockade. 

Interesting facts about Key West:

  • Because it can be accessed by land, the southern point of the island is marked as the southernmost point in the Continental United States
  • Hemingway House was the first home in Key West to boast such luxuries as running water and a swimming pool.
  • Hemingway's wife spent more building the pool than what the entire house was worth at the time she had it built.
  • Hemingway house is home to more than 60 six-toed cats that are direct descendants of a six-toed cat given to Hemingway by a friend.
  • Key West has the highest average temperature in the United States.
  • The Naval Air Station in Key West takes up most of the island.  It was selected because flight conditions are better in the Florida Keys than anywhere else in the US.
  • There are 42 bridges that connect the chain of Florida Keys (15% of travel time in the Keys is spent on bridges).
  • The highest elevation in the keys is Windley Key at only 18 feet above sea level.
  • U.S. Highway 1 (the Overseas Highway in the Keys) runs from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, FL.
  • In the 1830's Key West was the wealthiest city per capita in the United States thanks to treasure retrieval from shipwrecks off the coast.
  • Key West is the only frost-free city in the Continental United States.
  • "Lobsters" in Key West are actually saltwater Crawfish.
  • There are more bars per capita in Key West than anywhere else in the US.
  • There are more churches per capita in Key West than anywhere else in the US.
  • The original name for Key West was Cayo Hueso meaning: Island of Bones.

Key West Population and Demographics:

  • City of Key West Population — 25,478 (as of the 2000 census)
  • Male — 14,017(55.0%)
  • Female — 11,461 (45.0%)
  • White — 71.4%
  • Black — 9.3%
  • Hispanic — 16.5%
  • Other race — 1.9%
  • Two or more races — 2.2%
  • American Indian — 0.8%
  • 2000 percent population 18 and over — 70%
  • 65 and over — 12%
  • Median age — 38.9
  • Median household income - $43,021

Key West Area Colleges and Universities:

  • Florida Keys Community College
  • University of Miami (115 miles)
  • Florida International University (115 miles)
  • Edison Community College (138 miles)
  • Florida Gulf Coast University (138 miles)
  • Miami — Dade Community College (139 miles)

Key West Economy & Business (listed by order of most important to the economy by industry):

  • Tourism
  • Military
  • Fishing

Key West Hispanic Community Churches:

  • White Street Hispanic Baptist Church
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