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Burnt Down Twice, Harbor House Still Stands Tall

IMG_0402One of Key West’s FIRST brick buildings is the historic Harbor House built in 1885 from bricks brought in from sailing ships. It first burnt down in 1886 housing the Bank Of Key West till it folded in 1891. A second bank tried its hand in the rebuilt building and it too failed only a few years later in 1898.

Oh sorry, the blogs title says burnt down twice… after the first fire gutted the building leaving only the two foot thick walls, some 98 years past till another fire in 1984 devastated its occupants again leaving ONLY the two foot thick walls! Today it’s home to souvenir shops that promote EVERYTHING IN THE STORE FOR $5.00 says the Barker standing in front holding a cardboard sign.

The Harbor House has endured “Hell’s Fires” twice over the course of its existence and though its two foot thick walls may not stand forever, its spirit and prestige will exist eternally. There’s a large bronze plaque on the outer wall (pictured below) commemorating its long surviving history for all to read.

You can find this historic Harbor House brick building at the corner of Wolfson Street & Front Street in the area of town known as Mallory Square.


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Horse Ties In Key West

IMG_1615Unnoticed by the masses, this post with a loop stood out like a sore thumb to me as I walked by. Commonly called horse ties, in reality their main purpose today is chaining up bikes. I’ve found at least two of them each on different sides of the same street. Though horses are less frequent than earlier years, Key West still employs four quarter horse geldings for its Mounted Police force today… believe it or not! Giddy-up there partner! 🙂

Seen below is an authentic horse tie I found in front of the famous western themed Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota.

You can find both of these modern-day horse ties along the World-Famous Duval Street in Key West.


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Civil War Cannons In A Wall

4400925953_12407b6024_bThese are REAL Civil War cannons set into the side of  a wall to reinforce it against attack. As old cannons cracked or were damaged in battle they were moved several feet from their prior position and built directly into the wall providing an even stronger fortress.

Welcome back to the Civil War Fort Zachary Taylor used by the Northern Yankee Troops during the entire war. Most find it hard to believe that the southernmost city in the United States was a Yankee stronghold instead of held by the Rebel south.

This blog will concentrate on the upper portions of the fort where the cannons once stood ready in defense of this nation. The upper deck is very wide in parts to accommodate the massive size and number of cannons needed to repel unwanted advances on its sovereignty. Pictured are a number of those former cannon positions, notice the half-moon oval-shaped iron plates built into the floor. These enabled the back of the cannon to be pushed into position in either direction by wheels that sat horizontally beneath it. The large square metal plates on the other hand served as the central pivot point for each cannon. You can also see that these cannons were side-by-side and two rows deep in some places.

4401713276_ecfc61799c_bYou might ask, “How could they have seen or shot the opposition forces through the trees?”. Well, I assure you it was added later as landfill as the forts need diminished and the city needed more land. Also shown below are large iron rings commonly known as knockers that were used to tie off & move equipment around the upper deck. And YES, I’ve heard all of the “Big Knocker” jokes before! 🙂 Lastly are several manually hand cranked elevators used to bring up munitions from a lower safe storage area.

This fort is AWESOME and nearly NO ONE ever makes it here staying most of their trip centralized around Duval Street. So get out and see this historic Civil War Fort Zachary Taylor… you won’t regret it! You can find the fort in the area of town known as the Old Navy Pier and cost approx. $4 (1 person) or $7.50 (2 people) for an all day pass that can again be used at sunset.


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Saving Bambi!

Welcome to Big Pine Key! This is home to Bambi, Bambi’s mom, dad, sister, brother and thousands of Bambi look-a-likes aptly named Key Deer!

Before you see the first deer you’ll notice the many signs around town set out to protect them. This is nature’s playground gone wild for its four-legged furry friends. This town is SERIOUS about protecting their livelihood revenue generating silent spokespersons. The city has erected tall chain link fences lining BOTH sides of the road as their first line of defense in protecting the endangered Key Deer.

Take note that the speed limits are lower here than normal producing much of the islands additional revenue in speeding tickets! No matter how much prevention is enforced there’s always unfortunate instances resulting in Key Deer fatalities. One of the photos below depicts 108 killed last year with 35 already meeting their demise so far this year.

You can find this Key Deer friendly refuge on Big Pine Key from Mile Marker 33.0 thru 28.8 on US-1 in the beautiful Florida Keys.




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A Private Residence In A Strip Mall

IMG_1685Does your local strip mall have a private home in it? I kid you not, this one does! Sometimes fact is better than fiction, I’d have a hard time making up a story like this! Key West never ceases to amaze me… and I love it! 🙂

I’d bet a Cuban Sandwich & curly fries that many Key West locals have NEVER noticed there’s a private residence wedged between the coffee shop and Five Guys Hamburger restaurant in this strip mall. Look close at the photo below, upon the glass door it reads: ‘Private Residence’.

How convenient is this, you can take your date out to dinner at Five Guys, an after-dinner cup of Cuban coffee at the coffee shop, and then up to your room for a nightcap all within 10 feet of your front door. WOW, what a great idea, this guy’s a dating genius! 🙂

You can find this ‘Private Residence’ in a strip mall at the corner of Truman Avenue & Duval Street exactly beside the Five Guys burger joint.


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New York Firefighter’s 9/11 Memorial In Key West

IMG_1569Did you know that Key West has a memorial honoring the 9/11 New York firefighters who died on that tragic day? The memorial stands about 5′ tall upon an 8 pointed fireman’s cross complete 9-11-01 and FDNY cut into it. This incredible moving memorial is made from a piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center’s Twin Tower’s debris. Look close and you’ll actually see dents along with nuts & bolts imbedded into the steel due to extreme heat and pressure.

Have you ever wondered where the term ‘Firefighters’ came from? History lesson part#1: During the Holy Crusades defenders of a walled city were struck by glass bombs containing a highly flammable liquid. When they became saturated, the attackers would hurl a torch into their midst. Hundreds were burned alive; others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from dying painful, fiery deaths. These first heroic ‘Firefighters’ were awarded a cross similar to the one shown below! And now you know the rest of the story! 🙂

History lesson part#2: The cross is eight-pointed and has the form of four “V”-shaped elements joined together at their tips, so that each arm has two points. Its design is based on crosses used since the First Crusade and is a symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you just as the crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow-man. Since the Knights lived on a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea named Malta, the cross came to be known as the Maltese Cross.

History lesson part#3: Notice that memorial is broken off at an angle at the top, this represents lives cut short… an unfinished life. Pictured below is an aviator’s grave stone with a broken propeller symbolizing the same meaning of his life being cut short before his time.

You can come and pay your respects to this touching symbol of our Country’s most horrific tragedy located at 1600 N. Roosevelt Boulevard in front of the entrance to the Key West Fire Department main office.

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Key West Police Caught Red Handed Horsing Around! :-)

pride07_500Yes, Key West has 6′ tall four-legged crime fighters on the payroll. At the time of this photo ALL of the horses were quarter horse geldings named Texas Tea, Leo, Frechkles, & Mr. Peppy Rio! I like the name ‘Mr. Peppy Rio’ the best, he gets respect with ‘Mr.’ and a ‘Peppy’ in his steppy to boot!

Commonly known as Mounted Police, the official name is Mounted Patrol as seen written on the pickup truck & horse trailer below. A warm and friendly site, the Mounted Patrol is the ultimate in Community Policing. While patrolling on horse, they don’t have to approach the citizens, they come to them. Ideal for patrolling parks, beaches, shopping center parking lots and neighborhoods. Patrolling the small lanes and other areas less accessible by conventional vehicle patrols is also a plus. From their height, Mounted Officers can more easily detect crime that may not be seen by ground Officers.

For those of you that don’t know, a quarter horse gets its name since its sprinting ability peaks at 1/4 mile at speeds up to 55 mph!. A gelding on the other hand is no fun becoming, it’s a castrated horse resulting in a calmer better-behavior.

You can find these four-legged crime fighters when not in action beside Key West’s boxing complex located at DeKalb Avenue. The building is sandwiched between the main entrance to Fort Zachary Taylor and the rear entrance to the Naval Air Station Truman Annex.



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