Conch Republic

conch-republic-logoYou may have heard Key West referred to as the Conch Republic. That is because in 1982, Key West seceded from the United States.

What prompted this move was a roadblock set up by the US Border Patrol on US1 in Florida City, blocking the only way to get to the Florida Keys via vehicle. Delays getting into the Keys were starting to effect the economy of the islands when people decided to cancel their vacations to the area because they wanted to avoid the hassle. After petitions from Florida Keys government officials to the United States Federal government to remove the road block were denied, Keys community leaders determined that a roadblock separating Monroe County from the rest of Florida was basically the same as a road block between the United States and Mexico or Canada. So, they decided that seceding from the United States was their best option.

Then Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlaw was chosen as the Prime Minister of the new Conch Republic. On April 23rd he read aloud the Conch Republic Proclamation of Secession in the middle of Clinton Square. Afterwards he declared war on the United States by throwing stale Cuban bread at the federal agents that were in Key West to monitor the secession situation. A Conch Republic Military was even formed from locals with boats and planes.

After this stunt, the United States government did finally remove the road block, although the secession was never formally addresses by anyone.

So nothing ever really became of the Conch Republic. But in the 1990s Conch Republic Days began as a way to draw tourists to the area celebrating the islands’ attempts at secession from the great nation of the United States. Events for this week long celebration held each April include a drag race, a bed race, a car show, a music festival, parades, a craft show, and the famous Bloody Battle. You can even buy a Conch Republic Passport (which is not good for anything other than a silly souvenir).

April 17 – 26, 2015 is when this year’s celebration of the Florida Keys secession from the United States will be celebrated. So come on down and join in on the wacky fun!


Key West Historic Markers

Key West Historical Markers

Key West Historical Markers

For all of those history buffs out there, Key West has a very long and rich history. And if you are visiting the island, you should really take a self guided history tour via the Historic Markers. All around the island at different historical locations you will find markers, or plaques, with a short story about that particular site’s significance to the history of Key West. The numbers at the top of the markers refer to the location on the island. The 52 markers in all have to do mainly with the settling of Key West, the cigar industry, the military hold. Below is a list of markers that you should visit along with their locations.

  1. Captain George Carey House – 410 Caroline Street
  2. The Key West Women’s Club – 319 Duval Street
  3. The Oldest House – 322 Duval Street
  4. Dr. Joseph Yates Porter House –  429 Caroline Street
  5. James Haskins House – at the corner of Fleming and Southard Streets
  6. Casa Antigua – 314 Simonton Street
  7. The Oldest Drug Store – 500 Simonton Street
  8. The Southernmost House – 1400 Duval Street
  9. Fire Station – 1026 Grinnell
  10. Key West Armory – 600 White Street
  11. The Patterson Baldwin House – 336 Duval Street
  12. La Concha Hotel – 430 Duval Street
  13. William Wall Warehouse – 410 Wall Street on Mallory Square
  14. The Neighborhood Store – 600 Frances Street
  15. Martinez Havana Company Factory – 2010 Staples Street
  16. The Cosgrove House – 323 Whitehead Street
  17. E.H. Gato Cigar Factory – 1100 Simonton Street
  18. Fogarty Mansion – 227 Duval Street
  19. The Speakeasy – 1117 Duval Street
  20. The Gato Village Pocket Park – 616 Louisa Street
  21. Gatoville – 1100 block of Simonton
  22. Key West Electric Company – 1001 James Street
  23. Fuente House – 706 Elizabeth Street
  24. Trumbo Naval Air Station – at the entrance of Trumbo Point
  25. Freeman Curry House – 724 Eaton Street
  26. USCG Ingham – 0 Southard Street
  27. The Cable Hut – concrete structure next to the Southernmost Point
  28. 1886 Fire – 500 Duval Street
  29. Cuban Missile Crisis – South Roosevelt Boulevard
  30. La Terraza de Marti – 1125 Duval Street
  31. Cigar Capital of the World – 540 Greene Street
  32. John Dewey House – 504 South Street
  33. Bruce Hall – 1310 United Street
  34. Ferdinand Hirsch Cigar Factory – 930 Catherine Street
  35. Roosters – Duval Street
  36. Mallory Steam Line – 402 Wall Street
  37. St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church – 1010 Windsor Lane
  38. Mosquito Fleet – 123 Main
  39. 1846 Havana Hurricane – 33 East Quay Road
  40. Benjamin Curry House – 610 Southard Street
  41. Steam Power – 123 Main
  42. Outer Mole – 33 East Quay Road
  43. Marine Hospital – 123 Main
  44. Sponging – 123 Main
  45. Civil War Union Blockade – 123 Main
  46. Clinton Square – 281 Front Street
  47. Conch Republic – 402 Wall Street
  48. Ponce de Leon – 1405 Duval Street
  49. Yellow Fever – 625 White Street
  50. West Martello Tower – 1100 Atlantic Boulevard
  51. Salt Production – Key West International Airport
  52. Submarine Base – 33 East Quay Road
  53. Curry Mansion – 511 Caroline Street
  54. Island House Resort – 1129 Fleming Street

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting our island home, be sure to read my Key West restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our restaurant reviews.

To see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn

Key West Concierge

A Brief History of Key West

Florida’s Calusa Indian tribe  was forced to migrate south to Key West where they fought to keep the southernmost lands as the New World was settled. In the process many Indians were killed and the Key West beaches were used as burial grounds. According to Key West lore, Spanish settlers found bones of the dead Indians strewn on the beach and called the island Cayo Hueso, meaning Island of Bones. Later English settlers called the island Key West, thinking that Cayo meant Key and Hueso West.

Over the years, ownership of the island has changed hands several times between the Spanish and the English. In 1815 the island was given by Spain to Juan Pablo Salas. American businessman, John Simonton, purchased the island from Salas in the early 1820’s, later selling portions of Key West to fellow businessmen Greene, Whitehead, and Fleming (all of whom have Key West streets named after them today, so be on the lookout!). The triumvirate began to develop Key West, and are even responsible for bringing the United Stated Navy down to build a base, which eventually put a stop to pirating in the area. However, settlers still had to combat illness, mosquitoes, and harsh seas.

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