Key West

Key West has become a tourist sinkhole that will swallow you up into streets filled with T-shirt and souvenir shops yet maintains its old tropical charm with a quirky, laid back attitude. The streets are narrow and traffic is always a mess. Scooters and bicycles dart in and out of streets with no regard to traffic rules or safety. It’s a wonder no one gets killed!
The quirkiness, history, bars and architectural flair of times past make Key West a must visit if you’re looking for an interesting place to go. Summer is their rainy season so winter is probably a better bet.
Quirkiness: Welcome to The Conch Republic (aka Key West): In 1982, the Boarder Patrol established a roadblock and inspection points on US Highway 1, stopping all northbound traffic returning to the mainland at to search vehicles for drugs and illegal immigrants. The Key West City Council repeatedly complained about the roadblocks, which were a major inconvenience for people traveling from Key West and hurting the Keys’ tourism industry.
After various attempts to get an injunction against the blockade in federal court, on 23 April, 1982, the Key West mayor and the city council declared the independence of the city of Key West from the United States calling it the “Conch Republic”. After one minute of secession, the mayor (now “Prime Minister”) surrendered to an officer of the Key West Naval Station, and requested one billion ($1,000,000,000) dollars in “foreign aid”. They also attached a Navy destroyer in the harbor with water balloons. Now that’s funny…
The stunt succeeded in generating great publicity for the Keys and the inspection roadblocks were removed. It also provided a new source of revenue for the city. The Conch Republic lives on today and is part of the lure of “quirky” Key West.
Many of the homes in Key West were painted grey, their favorite color. The locals found it easy to steal this color of paint from the Navy… makes sense to me.
The Southernmost point in the U.S. was originally just marked with a sign, which was often stolen. In response to this, the city of Key West erected the now famous concrete buoy in 1983. The concrete buoy is actually an old sewer junction that was dug up in the area and found too heavy to move, so it was painted up to look like a buoy. Cuba is 90 miles south.

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