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Key West: 1900

Key West: 1900

Circa 1900. "Key West, Florida. View from hotel." With nary a T-shirt or flip-flop in sight. Detroit Publishing Company dry-plate glass negative. View full size.


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Key West 1965

I was a not-dry-behind-the-ears 17-year-old sailor in 1965, assigned to Fleet Sonar School at Key West Naval Base, learning how to hear and identify those nasty Soviet submarines. Two days after reporting, Hurricane Betsy rolled through and I found myself behind boarded windows in the school, wondering how paradise had become so windy and noisy. The highlight of the post-Betsy period was walking Duval Street with long-handled hoes, killing snakes driven above ground by surge water. Ah, what a sailor once had to do for his country. And the Conch Republic.

Then and Now

February 8, 2009. Same general direction, different angle. Beautiful building nonetheless.


This was probably taken from the tower of the Jefferson Hotel, around the middle of the 100 block of Duval.

You can see a little of the brick Sawyer Building in the lower right, the end that now houses the Hogsbreath Saloon. The Custom House can be seen clearly flying a flag, now an art museum. To the right of it is Building 1, which is one of the oldest buildings on the island and has had many lives.

Fort Taylor and its causeway can be seen on the horizon at the left; this was long before the landfill connected it with the island. Only two or three other buildings in the picture still stand.

Papa's Town

"It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms...Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks." Obviously written the day after Hemingway pioneered the "Duval Crawl." Which I've done a few times and highly recommend.

One, two, three ...

I see at least seven people and a number of horses.

"With nary a T-shirt or flip-flop in sight"

That's because there's nary a person in sight.

[Polish those bifocals and take another gander. - Dave]

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