Key West is a city in Monroe County, FL U.S.A. and encompasses the island of Key West, the part of Stock Island north of U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway east), Sigsbee Park north, originally known as Dredgers Key, Fleming Key north, and Sunset Key west, originally known as Tank Island. Both Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park are part of Naval Air Station Key West and are inaccessible by civilians. Key West is the county seat of Monroe County and is known as the southernmost city in the continental United States. It is also the southern terminus of U.S. 1, State Road A1A, the East Coast Greenway and before 1935, the Florida East Coast Railway.
Key West is 129 miles southwest of Miami, Florida, about 160 miles by car and 106 miles north-northeast of Havana, Cuba. Cuba at its closest point is 94 statute miles south.
Key West is a seaport destination for many passenger cruise ships. The Key West International Airport provides airline service. Hotels and guest houses are available for lodging. Naval Air Station Key West is an important year round training site for naval aviation due to the superb weather conditions. It is also a reason the city was chosen as the Winter White House of President Harry S. Truman. The central business district primarily comprises Duval Street, and includes much of the northwest corner of the island along Whitehead, Simonton, Front, Greene, Caroline, and Eaton Streets and Truman Avenue. The official city motto is "One Human Family."
Presidents of the United States
Several U.S. presidents have visited Key West. Harry Truman visited for 175 days on 11 visits during his presidency and visited several times after he left office, hence the Truman Annex.
Key West was in a down cycle when Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in 1939. The buildup of military bases on the island occurred shortly thereafter.
In addition to Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed in Key West following a heart attack. In November 1962, John F. Kennedy was to use "90 miles from Cuba" extensively in his speeches against Fidel Castro. Kennedy himself visited Key West a month after the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jimmy Carter held a family reunion in Key West after leaving office.
Transportation by Air, Rail, Road and Water
Key West was relatively isolated until 1912, when it was connected to the Florida mainland via the Overseas Railway extension of Henry M. Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway (FEC). Flagler created a landfill at Trumbo Point for his railyards. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 destroyed much of the railroad and killed hundreds of residents, including around 400 World War I veterans who were living in camps and working on federal road and mosquito-control projects in the Middle Keys. The FEC could not afford to restore the railroad.
The U.S. government then rebuilt the rail route as an automobile highway, completed in 1938, which became an extension of United States Highway 1. The portion of U.S. 1 through the Keys is called the Overseas Highway. Franklin Roosevelt toured the road in 1939.
In 1926, Pan American Airlines was founded in Key West originally to fly visitors to Havana.
Prior to the Cuban revolution of 1959, there were regular ferry and airplane services between Key West and Havana.
Key West was flooded with refugees during the Mariel Boatlift. Refugees continue to come ashore and, on at least one occasion, most notably in April 2003, flew hijacked Cuban Airlines planes into the city's airport.