Historical Markers in
Monroe County, Florida

15-Inch Rodman African Cemetery at Higgs Beach African Queen Alexander Cruz / Julia Gardner House Alfred Goldsboro Mayor Audubon House Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea Civil War Union Blockade Clinton Square Convent Of Mary Immaculate Cornish Memorial AME Zion Church Cuban Missile Crisis E.H. Gato Cigar Factory Eduardo Gato Cigar Factory Eduardo H. Gato House Florida East Coast Railroad Oversea Extension Fort Taylor Green Turtle Inn Gunrooms Highway Piers Hurricane Houses Hurricane Monument In Memory of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Indian Key Islamorada Baptist Church Jewfish Creek Bridge Joseph Yates Porter, M.D. Juan Ponce de Leon Keeping Powder Dry and Safe Key West Armory Key West Cemetery Key West Woman's Club Key West's Metal Roofs Long Key Fishing Club Mallory Homesite Marathon: Heart of the Keys Marine Hospital Meacham Field Milton W. Curry House, William Curry Homestead Naval Depot and Storehouse-Building One-U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters Naval Station Navy Club of Key West Monument Navy Days at Fort Jefferson Old City Hall Pan American Airways Phillip L. Cosgrove House, 1872 Pioneer Cemetery Plantation Key Porter's Anti-Pirate Fleet Rafters Red-Hot Cannonballs Road and Ferry Robert Curry Mansion Semper Fidelis Seven-Mile Historic Bridge Site of Camp Three Site of Islamorada Railway Station Southernmost Point Spanish Treasure Fleet of 1733 St. Paul's Episcopal Church Stained Glass Windows of St. Columba Episcopal Church State Road 4A State Road 4A Tavernier Tea Table Key The 1935 Hurricane The Cable Hut The Cosgrove House The Dry Tortugas, Home to a Myriad of Life The Florida Keys Memorial The History of the Southernmost Point The Little White House The Mosquito Fleet The Oldest Schoolhouse The Samuel O. Johnson House The Sweeting House The Trev-Mor Hotel Triangle of History Truman's Little White House United States Weather Bureau War of 1898 Water in "Dry" Tortugas Welcome to Key West's Historic Seaport! West Martello William Lowe Delaney / Theodore Holtsberg House
The Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee is the only state capitol in the United States that is taller than the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.
Monroe County, Florida, located in the southernmost part of the state, has a rich and diverse history. The area that is now Monroe County was initially inhabited by the indigenous Calusa tribe, known for their seafaring skills and trading network. European explorers, such as Ponce de Leon and Juan Ponce de León, arrived in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the 19th century that Monroe County began to take shape.

In the early 1800s, Monroe County became part of the newly formed Florida Territory. Key West, the county seat, quickly developed into a vibrant port city due to its strategic location. It became known for its sailors, shipwreck salvagers, and trading activity. During this time, wrecking became a major industry as many ships ran aground on the treacherous reefs surrounding the Keys.

The county's history is also intertwined with the era of American expansionism. In the 1820s, the US government established Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West to control piracy along the coast. It played a role in the Mexican-American War and served as a base during the Civil War.

The early 20th century brought significant changes to Monroe County with the completion of the Overseas Railway, connecting Key West to mainland Florida. This railway transformed the Keys into a popular tourist destination. However, a devastating hurricane in 1935 destroyed much of the railway and led to the construction of the Overseas Highway. This highway replaced the railway and became a lifeline for the county, allowing for increased development and tourism.

Today, Monroe County remains a popular tourist destination due to its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant culture. It continues to be a major center for fishing, boating, and diving. The county's history, shaped by its indigenous roots, maritime activities, and unique geographical location, continues to be celebrated and preserved.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Monroe County, Florida.

  • 1823 - Monroe County is established as one of the original counties in Florida.
  • 1830 - The first permanent settlement, known as Indian Key, is established.
  • 1836 - The Second Seminole War begins, leading to the abandonment of Indian Key.
  • 1870 - Key West becomes the county seat and experiences economic growth as a major port.
  • 1912 - The Overseas Railway connects Key West to mainland Florida, boosting tourism and trade.
  • 1935 - The Labor Day Hurricane devastates the Florida Keys, causing massive destruction and loss of life.
  • 1942-1945 - The Florida Keys become an active military zone during World War II.
  • 1982 - The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is established to protect the region's coral reefs.
  • 1998 - Hurricane Georges causes significant damage to Monroe County and the Florida Keys.
  • 2017 - Hurricane Irma makes landfall in the Florida Keys, causing widespread destruction and devastation.