Refugees have been coming to the Keys since the few remaining Florida Indians fled there as American settlers poured into the mainland from the north. The last of them left with the Spanish to be resettled in Cuba as England took over Florida in 1763. Then there were Bahamians fleeing their impoverished nation. They came in the early 1800s as plantations the British Loyalists from America started, on Bahamian land grants, failed in mass. They were on the wrong side of the Revolutionary War and ended up with worthless land in the Bahamas. The Keys had similar rocky soils, reefs to fish and wrecks to salvage just like the islands they left, but closer to America's emerging markets. It's been noted that in 1860 two-thirds of Key West's 3,000 residents were of Bahamian decent. Next came Cubans as political refugees fleeing wars of independence from Spain, first from 1868 - 1878 and again before the Spanish-American War of 1898 which delivered the independence they had longed for. The political exodus started again with Fidel Castro in 1960 and peaked in 1980 when 125,000 refugees joined the Mariel boat lift to Key West. Unfortunately those refugees included criminals from Cuban jails and mentally ill patients from institutions which the Cuban government dumped on America after President Jimmy Carter offered to accept Cuban refugees. Cubans continue to die at sea desperately trying to escape the communist island today. To learn more about the history of the Florida Keys, check out our latest book The Florida Keys: A History Through Maps here. Island Map Store also offers customizable, decorative maps of the United States coastlines along with Bahamian, Caribbean, and International maps. Call today to learn more (239) 963-3497!
Every since I was a kid I can remember going to Key West and seeing forts, lighthouses, old sailboats and turtle crawls. I especially liked sea turtles and found it interesting to see where they lived, apparently unaware of everything the world had in store for them. The U.S. acquired Florida from Spain in 1819 and by the early 1820s established the first permanent settlement of Key West. The U.S. Navy set up a base with it's Anti-Piracy Squadron since pirates had been preying on vessels legitimately salvaging shipwrecks "wrecking" along the Keys reef. The Navy stopped the pirates and wrecking became a way of life in Key West, making it the wealthiest town in Florida by the mid 1800s. Key West's Fort Zachary Taylor remained in Union hands during the Civil War (1860s) even though Florida was a Confederate state. In 1898 the harbor hosted warships headed to Cuba for the Spanish American War, helping deliver Cuban independence from Spain. The town's prosperity waned as lighthouses and steamships diminished the wrecking trade in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s the town was restless since the once vibrant cigar industry had all but moved to Tampa due to labor unions in Key West. Events in Cuba continued to have an effect in later years with daily ferry runs to Havana until Fidel Castro came to power around 1960. Communist rule only 90 miles away formented the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis which militarized the town and the Mariel Boat Lift which brought tens of thousands of Cuban refugees into Key West. Henry Flagler's Oversea Railroad would establish Key West as America's southern most port in 1912. The tracks never created the expected boom though it did provide a critical link to the mainland establishing the tourism industry. The railroad built the Casa Marina Hotel in 1921 and paved the way for the Overseas Highway that opened in 1938 (the railroad was destroyed in a 1935 hurricane). Notable guests moved to town like authors Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams. President Harry Truman had his Winter White House in Key West after WWII and the Navy has maintained a presence to this day with a significant air base in nearby Boca Chica. In later years Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville theme continues to make Key West a popular tourist destination with great fishing, diving, parties, seafood and yes - historical sites! To learn about the history of the Florida Keys check out our latest book The Florida Keys: A History Through Maps. To view our decorative maps visit our site or call today to place a custom order, (239)963-3497.
The Keys were not officially settled until the U.S. bought Florida from Spain in 1819. During that time there were no doubt fish camps and wrecking stations, but the Spanish never established a permanent settlement. Many if not most the early settlers were from the Bahamas. Bahamians had been salvaging shipwrecks, known as wrecking, in the Keys for years and knew how to fish and farm the rocky land, much like their home islands. Another driving force for them was destitution. After the Revolutionary War, British Loyalists from the American colonies accepted land grants in the Bahamas in return for their loyalty to the crown. They'd left America in hopes of recreating the plantations they had in places like Virginia and Carolina, but after a generation it was clear the plan had failed. They'd fought on the losing side of the war and now were left with worthless land in the Bahamas. They emigrated in mass to the Keys where they fished, farmed and wrecked just like they'd done at home in the Bahamas but in better proximity to world markets. There were notable settlers including Captain Temple Pent, a Bahamian who became a U.S Navy navigation pilot and ultimately an Upper Keys Representative in the Florida Territory. American fishermen and wreckers from New England started to fish the Keys after the War of 1812 and several settlements came and went on Key Vaca and other islands outside of Key West. After Indians killed a number of settlers on Indian Key in 1840, including Dr. Henry Perrine, most Keys residents scattered along the chain and fled to Key West. Key West had by far the most settlers. John Simonton bought the island from a Spanish land grant just before the Navy arrived in 1822 to set up a base. He became partners with John Whitehead, John Fleming and Pardon Greene who all played a role in founding Key West - they left their names on the streets you see today. Wrecking created wealth in Key West and the early settlement grew around that industry and the stores and shipbuilding that were needed to run it. The town's success attracted professionals like accountants, doctors, engineers and lawyers. As Key West grew, other settlements sprouted up along the Keys chain after the Indian threat of the 1840s settled down, but it wasn't until the railroad came that Marathon and other large communities came to life. To learn more about the history of the Florida Keys check out our latest history book, The Florida Keys: A History Through Maps. Island Map Publishing also offers decorative maps perfect for gifts or home decor! Don't see what you're looking for? Call today to discuss a custom order, 239-963-3497.
wreckers" would be attacked by pirates who would steal the salvaged cargos, often violent interactions. In 1822, America's West Anti-Indian Piracy Squadron sailed into Key West to stop the practice and hunt down pirates wherever they went. They were successful and again, often accompanied by violence. There are many romantic tales about pirates and heroes like Johnny Depp's character Jack Sparrow, but these paint an unrealistic view of what pirates really were. This 1825 map provides historical accounts of "Piracies Committed On American Seamen & Commerce." The following is excerpt from an 1823 attack on the brig Bellisarius: "They stabbed the captain in several places, cut off his arms and one of his thighs---then put oakum dipped in oil in his mouth and under him, and set the whole on fire, which soon put an end to his sufferings". I'm sure there were whimsical pirates like Jack Sparrow but most were bad guys and when caught, they were typically hanged. If you're interested in learning more about the history of the Florida Keys, check out our latest book The Florida Keys: A History Through Maps. Island Map Publishing offers decorative maps of the U.S. coastal zones, The Bahamas, Caribbean, and many more areas. If you don't find what you're looking for give us a call (239-963-3497) and we will be happy to start a custom order!Unlike the old pirate nest in Nassau, Bahamas, the Florida Keys didn't have permanent settlements that could support pirates in the 1600s and 1700s. What the Keys did have was plenty of shallow, tricky harbors which pirate ships could use to attack merchant ships offshore in the Gulfstream and flee any warship in pursuit. There are plenty of tales about pirates using the Keys as refuge. The U.S. acquired Florida from Spain in 1819 during a period of lawlessness on the Keys reef where law abiding "
If you've browsed our site you might have noticed Island Map Publishing makes not only color maps but also "antique" versions of those same maps. To do this we use subtle colors chosen from a lovely, original, map from the 1600s I have. products page or call the office today at 239-963-3497 to learn more about placing a special order. Enjoy our maps, in any color!We change the map to suit the antique look and add mermaids, fish and sea monsters from maps as far back as the 1500s. We love how the mix of colors and ancient sea creatures add a sophisticated yet artistic feel to the maps, sometimes better suited to living rooms and other spaces where brightly colored maps might clash. Many of our maps have already been made into their "antique" version, but any which have not can be done in a reasonable amount of time by special order. Visit our
Shipwrecks have been a way of life in the Keys since Europeans first arrived in the New World. The long reef system rose up from the Gulfstream to catch ships off guard since the low islands of the Keys were hard to see until it was too late. In the days of sail, ships could be blown up on the reef tearing out their bottoms and sinking them in often violent seas. Early shipwreck survivors could expect harsh treatment ashore from the Native American Indians. They were typically killed on the spot or enslaved and traded up the coast. A 13 year old Spaniard, Hernando Fontaneda, was shipwrecked in the Keys in 1549 and assimilated into the Calusa Indian tribe where he learned their language. He was rescued 20 years later in southwest Florida and in 1571 wrote about his experience, providing a rare glimpse into Florida's ancient Indian culture. By the late 1600s the Indians were Spanish allies helping them salvage their wrecks. Shipwrecks along the Keys reef plagued the Spanish and treasure fleets were lost in 1622 and 1733. The famous galleon Atocha, salvaged by Mel Fisher in 1985, was lost in the 1622 fleet. Wrecks provided an era of prosperity in Key West which became the largest and wealthiest Florida city in the mid 1800s when ships sank on the reef almost daily, their cargos salvaged by Keys "Wreckers" and auctioned off in Key West. The wrecking industry faded away as lighthouses were built and ships changed from sail to steam, greatly improving their ability to avoid the treacherous reef. Many shipwrecks can still be seen today on the reef by snorkeling shallow wreck sites or scuba diving on deeper ones.
To learn more about the Florida Keys check out our latest book The Florida Keys: A History Through Maps. Call today for questions regarding custom orders of maps and many other products, 239-963-3497!
The Florida Keys are defined by one of the world's great currents, the mighty Gulfstream. It carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico east along the Keys reef and north along Florida and the eastern seaboard into the north Atlantic, influencing weather as far away as western Europe. The Florida Keys: A History Through Maps.Spanish explorers learned early about the advantage of riding the Gulfstream north off the coast of America on their way back to Europe. They would take a more southerly course using the trade winds to bring them back to the New World, specifically avoiding the Gulfstream. A 1545 Spanish map by Pedro Medina shows a line of ships in a circle rotating clockwise around the Atlantic with the Gulfstream taking them northeast and the trade winds bringing them back west. It was the only way to travel in the days of sailboats and ships of many nations littering the abyss below the Gulfstream, thousands of feet deep. Efforts to scientifically map the Gulfstream were enhanced by a famous American, Benjamin Franklin. He and his cousin Timothy Folger studied the stream and published perhaps the most accurate map of it to date in 1778. The problem with the date was that America was at war with England. Franklin didn't want the map to fall into enemy hands so it was printed only in French, allies with Franklin's fellow patriots in the Revolutionary War. If there were any copies printed in English, they've never been found. To learn more about the history surrounding Florida and the keys, check out our latest book
The Florida Keys: A History Through Maps tells the story of the Key's past using different exhibits to enhance your reading. Maps are used extensively in almost every chapter and you'll find informative displays on ship wrecks, the railroad, reefs and maps on specific areas of the Keys. Maybe the best collection of antique maps ever published on the Keys makes up Chapter 3. My co-author Brian Schmitt's collection is world class and most of the specimens shown are his, many never printed before. The Spanish were the first to start mapping the New World after Columbus landed on San Salvador in 1492, but they were very secretive about them. The "Pardon Real" was Spain's secret map of the world updated with the findings of Columbus and other famous explorers. This map was closely guarded in the Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The Spanish 1511 map shown below was the first printed map devoted to the New World, it depicts the Florida Keys as a chain of islands running between Florida and Cuba, an early error of course. Accurate mapping of the Florida peninsula and Keys wasn't accomplished until centuries later since the area lacked the gold, silver and slaves Spain and other nations sought to possess. These riches were found on the larger islands of the Caribbean, including Cuba and Hispaniola, along with South and Central America. These areas were mapped accurately centuries before Florida was. It's interesting to see the progression of Florida and the crazy shapes it took on until England took possession from Spain in 1763. Only then did accurate maps of the Keys start to take shape and it's amazing the degree of accuracy that cartographers were able to achieve. Spain re-acquired Florida just 20 years later, but during the period of English possession from 1763 to 1783 more scientific mapping was done than during the prior 250 years of Spanish rule. The United States of America finally purchased Florida from Spain in 1819. Enjoy the especially beautiful maps in Chapter 3, there are brief paragraphs on each which describe them and how they evolved over time. Check out the book here along with our custom maps! For more information or to place a custom order call 239-963-3497.