The Southernmost Point Buoy is a concrete buoy that ostensibly marks the southernmost point in the continental United States and is a popular photograph for tourists. The buoy, which sits at 18 feet above sea level, was established in 1983 at South and Whitehead streets. Cuba is about 90 miles south of the point, but the exact distance is disputed, as is the southernmost point claim. The southernmost point was initially marked with a small sign before city officials erected the buoy in 1983. Hurricane Irma damaged the paint job in September 2017, but the original artist, with support from the city of Key West, refurbished it.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, located near the southern tip of Key West, Florida. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Construction of the fort began in 1845. The fort was built as part of a mid-19th century plan to defend the southeast coast following the War of 1812. Though it has been modified over the years, Fort Zachary Taylor was used during the 1898 Spanish–American War, World War I, World War II and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Mallory Square is a plaza situated on the waterfront in Key West’s historic Old Town just west of the northern end of Duval Street, facing the Gulf of Mexico. It hosts the nightly “Sunset Celebration,” considered one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Every night, hundreds of tourists flock to the square — or one of the adjacent watering holes — to watch the sunset. The celebration includes arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, and food carts. Adjacent to Mallory Square is the city’s cruise ship port, which opened in 1984. However, cruise ships must depart before the nightly sunset celebration.
The Seven Mile Bridge is perhaps the most famous bridge on the 113-mile-long Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys to Key West. The Florida East Coast Railway build the original bridge, initially known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge, from 1909 to 1912 as part of its Key West Extension, also known as the Overseas Railroad. Following the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, the railroad, financially unable to rebuild the route, sold the remaining bridges to the government, which reworked it as a highway. A newer bridge, constructed from 1978 to 1982, replaced the original span, which largely remains in place.
Dry Tortugas National Park, situated about 68 miles west of Key West, preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the westernmost and most isolated Florida Keys. Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress, is the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere and includes more than 16 million bricks. The park, accessible by seaplane and boat, is popular for its abundant sea life, tropical bird breeding grounds and colorful coral reefs. Dry Tortugas National Park is part of the Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, which UNESCO established in 1976 under its Man and the Biosphere Programme.
The Key West Veterans Memorial Garden is located in Bayview Park and commemorates those who served and sacrificed for the country. The garden, located in Bayview Park, opened in 2015. It includes placks with information about wars involving American soldiers. The garden also includes the Civil War Forgotten Soldier Memorial, unveiled in 2016 and honoring the more than 120 black soldiers from Key West who served the Union during the conflict.
The Key West Memorial Sculpture Garden, located in Mallory Square, features bronze busts of locals who had had a significant impact on Key West, including Henry Flagler, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. It originally featured 39 bronze busts but has space to increase to 72 busts. The city of Key West established the garden and the criteria for inclusion in the memorial, which opened in 1997. “The Wreckers” monument stands at the Key West Memorial Sculpture Garden’s center.
The Overseas Highway is a 113-mile-long highway carrying U.S. Route 1 through the Florida Keys to Key West. It was largely built on parts of the former Overseas Railroad right-of-way, an extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West Extension completed in 1912. The 1935 Labor Day hurricane heavily damaged and partially destroyed the Overseas Railroad. The Florida East Coast Railway was financially unable to rebuild the destroyed sections and sold roadbed and remaining bridges to Florida, making it a famous drive between Miami and Key West.