“Towns are like people. Old ones often have character. The new ones are interchangeable.” (Wallace Stegner)
For so many tourists who decide to visit Key West, Florida, it’s popular image as an exciting party town along Duval Street and Mallory Square tends to be a major reason for deciding to visit there. Such hedonistic intentions, however, would definitely not be the case for Ruth and I, as two curious and Corona wary wanderers on our recent vacation “getaway” in America’s southern most situated city earlier this week. For this three day stay in the heart of Key West’s “Old Town” corridor away from the tourist crowds would become an enticing invitation to take an extended look at authentic living history from the 19th century there.
Picture then this unique district of historic residential buildings situated amid a lush tropical environment. You might then be traveling back in time to those early years of Key West history where one could have gained great wealth from sea- based or possibly cigar making endeavors. For such newly acquired fortune would have enabled a successful entrepreneur to build an impressive mansion there of striking pastel colors, unique wall turrets, wraparound outside porches and white picket fences. Beautification of your landscape would have most likely been enhanced by freshly clipped hedges, towering Palm Trees and a twisting Banyan Tree or two enveloping your property. Imagine that over generations of time through the Victorian era, your neighbor might even have been someone famous like Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost or Tennessee Williams.
In fairness, I might point out also that our Old Town Key West tour did not happen easily. For we were facing the challenging of covering a relatively large section of the city containing roughly 4,000 acres and approximately 180 historic buildings. Know as well that bicycle riders frequently dodged in and out as we drove along these narrow streets while on- street parking spaces were rare to be found. A can of spray repellent would also have come in handy during walking times amid the dense tropical underbrush that naturally attracted hordes of mosquitos and other insect pests.
Nonetheless, an Old Town Key West focus might be considered as a wiser alternative for those who are considering to visit this area to close the year. For I recently read that the city would be cancelling its traditional News Years Eve celebration along the Duval Street corridor while imposing a 10: 00 pm. curfew that night because of Corona pandemic concerns. You might instead consider for your Key West visit at holiday time a relaxing twilight meal at a well spaced table outdoors at “Blue Heaven Cafe” or contently sitting on a park bench to enjoy a Cuban Dinner “Takeout” from “El Siboney Restaurant”. Then stroll to your heart’s content amid the more subdued holiday splendor of close-by “Old Town” neighborhoods until the midnight hour.
Source: Key West Architecture Invites Exploration https://fla-keys.com/news/article/9118/