Key West is a city in the U.S state of Florida. The city itself is the southernmost city in the Continental United States, a title that the city is proud of. The city includes the island of Key West and other smaller islands and is 129 miles southwest of Miami, Florida. Key West is a popular destination for cruise ships and this provides a good amount of tourism for the city.
In 1822 Commander Matthew Perry sailed to Key West and planted the U.S flag into the ground, claiming the Keys as U.S property. This wasn’t objected by any of the islanders and the Florida Keys became U.S property. Perry later renamed the island “Thompson’s Island” in tribute to the then Secretary of the Navy, Smith Thompson, however this name fell out of use over time.
Before 1912 Key West was isolated from the mainland, however in that year the Overseas Railway was built as an extension of the Florida East Coast Railway and this was a welcome addition for the islanders. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 destroyed a large portion of the railroad, along with many deaths on the island and the FEC Railway company couldn’t afford to repair the railroad. The U.S Government then stepped in and rebuilt it as a road for motor vehicles, which became an extension of the U.S Highway 1.
A quirk in the modern day history of Key West is the story of the Conch Republic. In 1982 the city declared its “independence” as the Conch Republic in protest over a U.S Border Patrol blockade. This blockade was set up on the aforementioned U.S Highway 1 and was in response to the Mariel Boatlift. It had a bad effect on the Keys, which rely on tourism that now couldn’t get onto the islands. You can still buy Conch Republic merchandise on the Keys and an Independence celebration takes place annually on April 23.
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