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Long ago, hazardous reefs off Key West wrecked many ships. To keep ships off the reefs, a lighthouse was built in 1825. Although it was destroyed in 1846, it was later rebuilt inland on Whitehead Street and was manned for more than 120 years. It's now open for those who can climb the 88 steps to the top of the tower, and tour the grounds. A small museum of nautical artifacts and vintage photos has been set up in the Keeper's Quarters.
Bahamians were among the first settlers in the Keys and their influence remains strong, as seen in the city's Bahamian Village neighborhood. At this museum, you can learn more about the influence of Bahamians in Key West in a collection of photos, letters, vintage clothing and memorabilia outlining the Bahamian connection. Even the building has Bahamian ties: it was once the residence of Lofton B. Sands, part of a prominent Bahamian family, who built this home in the 1920s. Admission is $1 per person but additional donations are welcome.
Bahama Village is a locality in Key West, named for its historical occupants who had Bahaman lineage. Once an infamous neighborhood, the area has gotten a makeover of sorts and has been transformed into a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a wide range of sights, accommodation, and dining options. Bahama Village is also a shopping district bustling with high-end fashion boutiques as well as small scale businesses selling local goods and products.
Opera star Enrico Caruso sang here. Cuban patriot Jose Marti delivered speeches from the balcony. Blessed with a stirring past, this handsome building has a new role as home to a research library and museum chronicling the island's Cuban ties. You'll find exhibits that detail the history of Key West and the contributions of 19th and 20th century Cuban exiles. San Carlos Institute is an affiliate to the Smithsonian Institution and was founded in 1871 to preserve Cuban culture and promote the freedom of Cuba.
Before you head back home, be sure to make your way to the corner of Whitehead and South streets. Why? Because geographically it is the southernmost point of the United States. You'll know you're in the right spot by the posted sign proclaiming the site's fame, and by the street vendors selling souvenirs and conch shells. Believe it or not, standing here you are closer to Cuba than Miami; from here, it is 150 miles north to Miami and only 90 miles south to Cuba. If you are so inclined, hang out until the evening, as this is also a great place to watch the sun set.
Truman Annex is a famous place that houses the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman. Yes! the same president who lead the US decisions during the Second World War and ended up storming Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the deadly atom bomb. Truman Annex was named after the president. Truman Annex is located near the Lower Keys area in Key West, Florida, which now enjoys a celebrated residential development for a comfy living.
It may sound morbid to go strolling through cemeteries, but Key West City Cemetery is also a historical landmark. Established in 1847 and covering nearly 20 acres, the cemetery includes the graves of sailors killed in the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898. You will see unique headstones, like a ship's mast or the famous one reading, "I told you I was sick." Admission is free to tour the site on your own.
Originally named Samuel D. Ingham after the then Treasury Secretary Samuel D. Ingham and the fourth cutter to bear that name, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham is among the two Treasury-class cutter of the US Coast Guard to be intact and the only one to be awarded two Presidential Unit Citations. This highly decorated Coast Guard warship is now a prestigious museum ship and national monument. It was in service from 1936 to 1988 and is the only Coast Guard ship to drown a U-Boat. Today it stands proudly as an ode to the heroes who gave their lives in the World War II and Vietnam War. Explore the levels of this ship and get a glimpse of history and the ship's victories. Check out their gift shop for souvenirs to take back home.