The Florida Keys
Our readers have voted for more information about visiting the fantastic Florida Keys, so here is the history of the Keys with reviews and "things to do" coming soon!
The Florida Keys were first charted by Spanish explorers in 1513, led by Ponce de Leon. The new residents of the islands established a vibrant fishing industry that drew thousands of American immigrants in the early 19th century. Once the US gained control of the Keys after the Seminole Wars, a new industry emerged: large-scale tourism.
Henry Flagler, a railroad magnate, is credited with transforming the Keys from a fishing outpost to a tourist destination in the late 19th century. Flagler built two railroad lines linking Key West with mainland Florida, and his Florida East Coast Railway allowed an unprecedented number of visitors to explore the crystal-clear waters and subtropical beauty of the Keys. In the early 20th century, the tourism industry continued to thrive on the islands, and Key West became one of the most popular vacation spots in the country.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt decided to embark on an ambitious project to create a highway connecting the hundreds of islands that make up the Florida Keys. His plan, known as the Overseas Highway, was completed in 1938 and connected mainland Florida to Key West, allowing unprecedented access to the island chain.
The post-World War II period saw an even greater surge in tourists, and the Keys quickly became an iconic American vacation destination. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit southern Florida, damaging much of the Keys and its infrastructure. However, the resilient Keys recovered, and today it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.
Reviews and "things to do" coming soon!