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Key West is an island in the Straits of Florida, within the U.S. state of Florida. Together with all or parts of the separate islands of Dredgers Key, Fleming Key, Sunset Key, and the northern part of Stock Island, it constitutes the City of Key West.
The Island of Key West is about 4 miles (6 kilometers) long and 1 mile (2 km) wide, with a total land area of 4.2 square miles (11 km2). It lies at the southernmost end of U.S. Route 1, the longest north–south road in the United States. Key West is about 95 miles (153 km) north of Cuba at their closest points. It is also 130 miles (210 km) southwest of Miami by air, about 165 miles (266 km) by road, and 106 miles (171 km) north-northeast of Havana.
The City of Key West is the county seat of Monroe County, which includes all of the Florida Keys and part of the Everglades. The total land area of the city is 5.6 square miles (14.5 km2). The official city motto is “One Human Family”.
Key West is the southernmost city in the contiguous United States and the westernmost island connected by highway in the Florida Keys. Duval Street, its main street, is 1.1 miles (1.8 km) in length in its 14-block-long crossing from the Gulf of Mexico to the Straits of Florida and the Atlantic Ocean. Key West is the southern terminus of U.S. Route 1, State Road A1A, the East Coast Greenway and, before 1935, the Florida East Coast Railway. Key West is a port of call for many passenger cruise ships. The Key West International Airport provides airline service. Naval Air Station Key West is an important year-round training site for naval aviation due to the tropical weather, which is also the reason Key West was chosen as the site of President Harry S. Truman’s Winter White House. The central business district is located along Duval Street and includes much of the northwestern corner of the island.
At various times before the 19th century, people who were related or subject to the Calusa and the Tequesta inhabited Key West. The last Native American residents of Key West were Calusa refugees who were taken to Cuba when Florida was transferred from Spain to Great Britain in 1763.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
The earliest Key West neighborhoods, on the western part of the island, are broadly known as Old Town. The Key West Historic District includes the major tourist destinations of the island, including Mallory Square, Duval Street, the Truman Annex and Fort Zachary Taylor. Old Town is where the classic bungalows and guest mansions are found. Bahama Village, southwest of Whitehead Street, features houses, churches, and sites related to its Afro-Bahamian history. The Meadows, lying northeast of the White Street Gallery District, is exclusively residential.
Generally, the structures date from 1886 to 1912. The basic features that distinguish the local architecture include wood-frame construction of one- to two-and-a-half-story structures set on foundation piers about three feet (one meter) above the ground. Exterior characteristics of the buildings are peaked metal roofs, horizontal wood siding, gingerbread trim, pastel shades of paint, side-hinged louvered shutters, covered porches (or balconies, galleries, or verandas) along the fronts of the structures, and wood lattice screens covering the area elevated by the piers.
Little White House
Main article: Harry S. Truman Little White House
The Little White House
Several U.S. presidents have visited Key West with the first being Ulysses S. Grant in 1880, followed by Grover Cleveland in 1889, and William Howard Taft in 1912. Taft was the first president to use the first officer’s quarters that would later be known as the Little White House. Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Florida Keys many times, beginning in 1917.
Ernest Hemingway House
The Ernest Hemingway House
Main article: Ernest Hemingway House
Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote part of A Farewell to Arms while living above the showroom of a Key West Ford dealership at 314 Simonton Street while awaiting delivery of a Ford Model A roadster purchased by the uncle of his wife Pauline in 1928.
The Port of Key West includes Key West Bight, Garrison Bight at City Marina, as well as three docks utilized by cruise ships.
The first cruise ship to adopt the port was the Sunward in 1969. It docked at Pier B, which was owned at that time by the U.S. Navy.
Monroe County School District operates public schools in Key West.
District-operated elementary schools serving the City of Key West include Poinciana Elementary School, which is located on the island of Key West, and Gerald Adams Elementary School, which is located on Stock Island.