Key West during the
Cuban Missile Crisis

It was on Tuesday, October 23, 1962, that Key Westers awoke to find the military had taken over their island. The airport had been commandeered, there was an encampment on Rest Beach, soldiers were stringing barbed wire and HAWK anti-aircraft missiles aboard their launchers were deployed on the beaches beside A1A. But there's more to this issue than those 13 scary days in October. Thirty days after the missile crisis, JFK toured Key West to visit the troops and inspect the defenses. There was a motorcade down Duval Street en route to the Little White House, however, there was no photographic record of it until Editor ML McCarthy got a tip - of the existence of an 8mm film of JFK's motorcade along the 300 block of Duval Street in the almost improbable of places; the Dealy Plaza Museum in Dallas. It took a while but we got a copy, and in this issue we bring you the never before seen frame-by-frame photos of JFK's motorcade along Duval Street in November 1962.

 


 

Dazed and bewildered Key Wester's awoke on March 31, 1886, to find two thirds of the commercial district was no more, only cisterns and cooking chimneys stand where homes once stood. You can see all the way to Caroline and Duval - where the fire burned the east side of Duval Street all the way down to today's Sloppy Joe's, before jumping to the west side, burning down to the ground everything in it's path; homes, yards, fences, trees, even the outhouses - racing furiously all the way to Stephen Mallory's Pier (now Mallory Square, home of Key West's Sunset Celebration,) burning the pier and it's pilings right down to the waterline.

1886 Great Fire of Key West

After the Fire Key West History #38

After the Fire, Key West History #38, was distributed by the author during the early morning hours of March 30, 2012, the 126th Anniversary of The 1886 Great Fire of Key West.

On the 30th of March, 1886, two thirds of the Key West's commercial district was savaged by fire.

Chas B. Pendleton, Editor-in-Chief of the Key West Daily Equator-Democrat reported, "The terror of that awful sight will never be forgotten by any one who witnessed the grand but terrible tragedy. Fire and wind undid in a few short hours the work of many generations of busy men. Human suffering and hardship was exemplified in the period of woe and desolation that followed. Every one was dazed and bewildered. Despair was the key note of every voice, and a scene of blackened ruins and ashy waste failed to inspire hope in any heart of reflect a flash from any eye."

The 1886 Great Fire of Key West began at two o'clock in the morning of March 30, 1886 in a coffee shop next to the San Carlos Hall on Duval Street. According to Pendlelton, "The fire burned to Whitehead Street, where it was stopped at Jackson Square, meantime, it crossed Duval Street and was soon beyond all possibility of control. The Great Fire of 1886 raged for twelve hours before burning itself out." Continued in Key West History #38

 

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The greatest moment
in Key West's History

Train Arrives Key West History #37

Distribution of 20,000 copies of Train Arrives, Key West History #37, began preciously at 10:43 a.m. on January 22, 2012 - the 100th Anniversary of the train's arrival.

Arrival signaled completion of the "8th Wonder of the World" and the start of the greatest celebration ever held in Key West.

The crowd started to gather before the sky had begun to lighten. Young and old, sailors and civilians, rich and poor­ they came on foot or by carriage down the new road angling off Caroline Street to Trumbo Point. They were there to see a train arrive­ the first into Key West and the first one many in the crowd had seen in their lifetime. Shortly after 10:30, the sound of a whistle could be heard as the train chugged across the Old East Channel from Stock Island and headed into Key West. Within minutes, the train took a jog to the right and headed across landfill and a drawbridge onto Trumbo Point and, at 10:43 a.m., pulled into the station, as seen in the photo above. This was the greatest moment in Key West's history.

 


 

City of Key West
Surrenders in Bankruptcy

Newspapers around the nation covered the ceremony in which Key West Mayor William H. Malone, right, handed a ceremonial key to B.M. Duncan, a top FERA official for Florida. This ran in the New York Times on Sunday, July 22, 1934, with the slug: "The government takes over the revival of a bankrupt community."

City on the Brink Key West History #35

Your new or renewal subscription also includes a complimentary PDF of the endlessly fascinating, educational and just plain fun to read, Chas. B. Pendelton's The Daily Equator-Democrat Trade Edition, a 28-page, 7-column, 49.000 word newspaper published in Key West in 1889

For the first time since 1822, when John Simonton had begun selling parcels of his undeveloped island to William Whitehead and John Fleming, Key West in 1934 had no major industry or employer, save the U.S. Navy--and that WW1.

The city government had laid off most city employees, and fire and police continued to work without pay on promise of compensation once the city found money to pay them.

At least 80 percent of the city's able-bodied workers were out of work, idling on porches and drinking in the hidden bars and backroom joints. Men loitered along the docks awaiting the next ship to unload while others drank themselves into the bushes at Front and Duval streets. Full Story >>>

 

Full Story

 

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OVERSEAS HIGHWAY
TO KEY WEST OPENS

Highway Opens Key West History #36

Motorists pour in, locals celebrate as tourist dollars restart fallen economy. This moment marks the start of today's modern tourism economy.

Four years after Key West declared bankruptcy (see Key West History #35,) Key West would not be what it is today--a place where tourists can fish, swim, dance, sing, fly, dive, snorkel, sightsee, eat, dine, drink, drink, drink--if it weren't for a balding man in an ugly pair of shorts - Key West History's Man of the Year for 1938, Julious Stone

Thanks to him, Key West was full of people and celebration on July 2-4 1938, with parades, baseball games, dances, banquets, speeches, and other events to mark the completion of the Overseas Highway.

Thousands of people from Cuba, the rest of Florida and the United States were in town as local citizens opened their arms, streets, waterfront and homes to visiting dignitaries, state and national politicians, and tourists who had come to mark the highway's completion. Continued >>>

 


 

The Few, The Proud,
The Marines in Key West

Formal recognition of the Marine Corps Birthday began November 1, 1921, when the Commandant of the Marine Corps John A. LeJeune issued Marine Corps Order No. 47. He summarized Marine Corps history, its missions and traditions and directed the order be read to all Marines on November 10th and again every year on that date. Eight decades later, Marines assemble wherever they're stationed, from foxholes to fancy ballrooms, to honor the founding of the Corps. The handful of Marines stationed in Key West today not only celebrate the birthday of the Corps but toast another year of duty in the Southernmost City that dates back to 1823. Full Story >>>

 


 

The War of the Oranges

In March of 1949, a little blurb in the press regarding the president's daily breakfast menu started a new war between the states. The question was raised: what is the source of each morning's orange juice? That's all citrus-growers and their respective home state's citrus commissions needed to hear. A war of words soon started in the press between Florida, Texas and California. Boasts flew from coast to coast and one-upsmanship was the name of the game. Now the question was: which state's citrus reigned supreme? In this photograph, a contingent from the Florida Highway Patrol delivers a crate of Indian River fruit straight to the president's Key West front door. In his subsequent note to Broward county sheriff Walter Clark, Truman thanked his "friends in Fort Pierce" and went on to say, "All of us here in the Little White House now know the delicious flavor and superior merits of Florida products." Seems like a clear declaration that Florida oranges had taken this victory. From Key West History, Issue #18 - President Harry S. Truman's Fifth Visit to Key West

 


 

The remarkable recovery of Mr. John White, President of the John White Bank.
It is said by the older residents of the city, who remembered him as he then looked, that no one who saw and conversed with him believed that he could possibly live more than three months; but Mr. White came to Key West to live, not to die; and, having an indomitable will, and never-ceasing energy, he applied his whole force to the one end, to recover his health, in which, as the sequel will show, he succeeded most admirably. Full Story >>>

 


 

 

Saying goodbye
the Key West way

In the 1920s, the Welters Coronet Band played funeral music while accompanying the deceased on the way to the Key West Cemetery but switched to lively gospel music to accompany mourners home from the cemetery. Note the knees socks and uniforms, including caps, worn by band members, making summer burials uncomfortably hot. Other youngsters look on with some envy, as young band members earned a small payment for playing in the band. Small payment or not, it was money any youngster would find helpful. From Key West History, Issue #35 - Key West during the Great Depression

 


 

Sketch of
Mr. Benjamin P. Baker
From his courteous manners and affable bearing, coupled with industry, enterprise and integrity, the furniture annd undertaking business of Mr. Baker continued to grow until March, 1886, when the great fire of Key West leveled his house to the ground and burned up the whole of his stock. Undaunted, he rebuilt.   Full Story >>>

 

 

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Menus!


Formatted for mobiles
Alphabetical
list of Hotels,
Guesthouses and
Vacation Rentals

ALBURY COURT
1030 Eaton Street
(305) 294-9870

ALEXANDER PALMS COURT

715 South Street
(305) 296-6413

ALMOND TREE INN
512 Truman Avenue
(305) 296-5415

ARTIST HOUSE
534 Eaton Strett
(305) 296-3977

ARTIST HOUSE
ON FLEMING

1016 Fleming Street
(305) 294-4043

AZUL KEY WEST
907 Truman Avenue
(305) 296-5152

BEST WESTERN
HIBISCUS MOTEL

1313 Simonton Street
(305) 294-3763

BEST WESTERN
KEY AMBASSADOR
RESORT INN

3755 South Roosevelt Blvd
(305) 296-3500

BLUE MARLIN MOTEL
1320 Simonton Street
(305) 294-2585

CARIBBEAN HOUSE
KEY WEST

226 Petronia Street
(305) 296-0999

COCONUT BEACH RESORT
1500 Alberta Street
(305) 294-0057

COCONUT MALLORY RESORT
1445 S. Roosevelt Blvd.
(800) 958-2628

COMFORT INN
3824 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 294-3773

CROWNE PLAZA LA CONCHA
430 Duval Street
(305) 296-2991

CURRY MANSION INN
511 Caroline Street
(305) 294-5349

DAYS INN KEY WEST
3852 N Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 294-3742

DOUBLETREE GRAND
KEY RESORT

3990 South Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 293-1818

DOUGLAS HOUSE
419 Amelia Street
(305) 294-5269

EDEN HOUSE
1015 Fleming Street
(305) 296-6868

EL PATIO MOTEL
800 Washington Street
(305) 296-6531

FAIRFIELD INN & SUITES
2400 N Roosevelt Blvd
(305) 296-5700

HISTORIC KEY WEST INNS
725 Truman Avenue
(305) 294-5229

HYATT KEY WEST
RESORT AND SPA

601 Front Street
(305) 809-1234

IBIS BAY BEACH RESORT
3101 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 296-1043

ISLAND OASIS
635 South Street
305.295-9464

KEY LIME INN
725 Truman Avenue
(305) 294-5229      (800) 549-4430

KEY WEST MARRIOTT
BEACHSIDE HOTEL

(305) 296-8100      (800) 546-0885

LEXINGTON HOTEL KEY WEST
3850 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 294-6681      (800)533-5024

LIGHTHOUSE COURT
(305) 294-9588      (877) 294-9588

MARQUESA HOTEL
(305) 292-1919      (800) 869-4631

MARRIOTT COURTYARD
WATERFRONT

(305) 296-6595

OCEAN BREEZE INN
625 South Street
(305) 296-2829

OCEAN KEY RESORT
(305)296-7701      (800) 328-9815

OLIVIA BY DUVAL
(305) 797-0221      (877) 565-4842

ORCHID KEY INN
(305) 296-9915      (800) 845-8384

PARADISE INN
819 Simonton Street
(305) 293-8007      (800) 888-9648

PARROT KEY RESORT
2801 N. Roosevelt Boulevard
(305) 292-0032

PEGASUS INTERNATIONAL
HOTEL
 
 
501 Southard Street
(305) 294-9323      (800) 397-8148

PIER HOUSE RESORT
& CARIBBEAN SPA

One Duval Street
(305) 296-4600      (800) 327-8340

SANTA MARIA
SUITES RESORT

1401 Simonton Street
(305)-296-5678      (866)-726-8259

SHERATON SUITES
2001 South Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 292-9800      (800) 452-3224

SILVER PALMS MOTEL
830 Truman Ave.
(305) 294-8700      (800) 294-8783

SOUTHERN CROSS HOTEL
326 Duval Street
(305) 294-3200      (888) 364-3200

SOUTHERNMOST HOTEL
IN THE USA

1319 Duval St
(305) 296-6577      (800)354-4455

SPANISH GARDENS
1325 Simonton Street
(305) 294-1051      (888) 898-1051

SUITE DREAMS
COTTAGES & SUITES

1001 Von Phister Street
(305) 296-5169      (800) 413-1978

SUNRISE SUITES RESORT
3685 Seaside Drive
(305) 96-6661      (888) 723-5200

SUNSET KEY
GUEST COTTAGES
A WESTIN RESORT

245 Front Street
(305) 292-5300      (888) 477-7786

THE BANYAN RESORT
323 Whitehead Street
(305) 296-7786      (866) 371-9222

THE CASA MARINA RESORT
1500 Reynolds St.
(305) 296-3535      (866) 397-6342

THE CONCH HOUSE
HERITAGE INN

625 Truman Avenue
800-207-5806      305-293-0020

THE GALLEON RESORT
617 Front Street
(305) 296-7711

THE GARDENS HOTEL
526 Angela Street
(305) 294-2661      (800) 526-2664

THE INN AT KEY WEST
3420 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 294-5541      (800) 330-5541

THE KEY WEST PALMS
820 White St.
(305) 294-3146      (800) 558-9374

THE REACH RESORT
1435 Simonton Street

THE WESTIN KEY WEST
RESORT & MARINA

245 Front Street
(305) 294-4000      (866) 837-4250

TRAVELODGE KEY WEST
3444 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
(305) 296-7593      (800) 578-7878

TRUMAN HOTEL
611 Truman Avenue
(305) 296-6700

WICKER GUESTHOUSE
913 Duval Street
305.296.4275